The Democratic Party Finds Its Backbone

My Wednesday column looks at the new and fully-backboned Democratic Party we watched last night:

I’ve been following politics for most of my life, and while I’ve always felt energized by the potential and history of liberal policy-making, I’ve never felt like my chosen party reflected that energy or lived up to my expectations for it. Frankly, the Democrats have tended to disappoint more than they’ve impressed, and I’m not the only one who’s noticed. Evidently Deval Patrick has, too. More on that presently.

The party has struggled to shake an almost sleepy, flustered attitude, more interested in the noble even strain than the passionate barn burning many of us have wanted it to be. It’s been disorganized, crumpled, fumbly and hopelessly off message — almost out of breath — and all too willing to fearfully bend over backwards to avoid saying anything that might incite a counterattack from the other side.

But the Democratic Party on display last night is decidedly a brand new Democratic Party, if not in substance, almost certainly in style. The line-up of speakers presented on the first day of the convention was an extraordinary breath of fresh air — and a much needed shot of enthusiasm and electricity. Throughout the proceedings, I literally kept thinking to myself, what the hell party is hosting this convention because it certainly doesn’t sound like the Democrats of four, eight or twelve years ago? Who are these people? They’re razor sharp; they’re unafraid to seize the initiative and stick it to the Republican nominee; they’re energized; they’re inspired; and, chiefly, they sound strong. Surely they can’t be Democrats. Continue reading here.

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  • http://twitter.com/SugaRazor Razor

    It was a big night. Strickland was a badass and as an Ohio boy, it’s nice to see him in rare form. Hopefully he can use this piss and vinegar to return to the governor’s mansion.

    Deval and Ledbetter were downright awesome.

    O’Malley and Rahm were yawns.

    We saw our first Latino president with Julian Castro.

    And there’s a reason why Michelle Obama is the most liked person in politics.

    • Lavander

      I thought O’Malley got better and better as he went along. But, he came after Deval Patrick, so he had no chance.

    • mrbrink

      O’Malley delivered his speech with some good old timey populism, I thought. I liked it, actually. I caught it on the radio and I thought it was pretty good. Good radio, at least. On the replay he seemed to be having some fun with it. Maybe he was excited. T’was a big night.

  • eljefejeff

    Bob, FWIW, in response to your Adding at the end, Bill Clinton supposedly recommended that democrats not point out Romney’s flip flops such as on abortion, because swing voters might take that as “oh good he’s not really far right, I guess I CAN vote for him”. Obviously we see it as he’s a disingenuous liar, but others might look past that cuz they figure all politicians are anyway. Clinton points out they tried that against him in 96 and it failed miserably.

    However I agree about the health care. They need stories like that every night, hell every day throughout the rest of the campaign. Obama needs a few stories like that in his pocket for the debates.

  • http://JCohenMusic.com Justin Cohen

    Bob, it’s nice to see you so fired about about the Dems and their newly found backbone. I agree that Michelle gave the best / most powerful speech of the night and that Deval came in second.

    I noticed just one potentially confusing item in your column with regard to one of Strickland’s lines. You quoted:

    He also attacked “Mitt” directly and relentlessly with lines underscoring Romney’s elitist wealthy tax dogdes, “It’s summers on the beaches of the Cayman islands and winters on the slopes of the Swiss Alps!”

    I believe the gist of the line was something like, “Mitt Romney’s money needs its own passport. It summers on the beaches of the Cayman islands and winters on the slopes of the Swiss Alps!”

    If you leave out the bit about his money needing a passport, folks who didn’t hear the speech may think Strickland was talking about Mitt chilling in the Cayman’s and skiing in the Alps, which sounds like a good gig if you can get it, as opposed to Mitt’s money doing the traveling, which it did to avoid contributing to the ongoing maintenance of our society.

    • http://www.twitter.com/bobcesca_go Bob Cesca

      Thanks for that. I filed my column late last night and was working off hand-written notes, so that quote fell through the cracks. Corrected.

  • i_a_c

    David Kurtz also sees something new. Economic patriotism he calls it. I suppose I would rather call it economic populism. But whatever you call it, the Democratic message was strong and unwavering.

    One of the reasons I voted for Barack Obama in the 2008 primaries is because he was able to take the liberal message and pitch it to everyday working people, who for almost three decades now have been more receptive to “government is the problem” bullshite. It’s a message about togetherness and peace of mind for people who get up and work hard every day to provide for their families. Finally, it seems that other Democrats are catching on to the efficacy of this approach.

    Too many on the left rely on abstract concepts and theories to make their arguments. Not that they’re wrong, but those are not arguments that work politically. Barack Obama has managed to rewrite the script in a way that connects with the audience emotionally, like Reagan was able to do. Let’s see if the Ds stick with it.

  • D_C_Wilson

    There were some great speeches all around last night. The RNC was one long session on how much they hate Obama interspersed with “Romney’s all right.” This is a time where democrats need to seize the initiative. We need investments in infrastructure, not more wars. We need more education and opportunities for the middle class.

    When faced with an opponent who believes in nothing, it’s time for the democrats to show what they believe in.