I love live sports (which is to say, ritualized conflict) and I love language, so how could I not love the political arena? Herewith some notes provoked by the just-ended and much-blogged Democratic National Convention.
Poetry · My passion for poetry is second only that for music. Poetry is like blogging; more write it than read it. I’ve written lots and even sold one (it vanished without a trace), but for me, the poetry that today affects the world lives only in sports commentary (the left-hander winds, works, deals / a hard liner / stabbed by the shortstop, leaping) and political speech (In the Blue States, we worship an awesome God or Strength and wisdom are not opposing values). And also like sports, but unlike TV, in politics you don’t know how it ends till it ends (or weeks later, depending on Florida and the Supreme Court).
Content · The actual content of the DNC speeches was kind of thin, they were more about emotions and values and personalities. Which is just fine; you might, just maybe, in a one-hour speech, sketch out your ideas on one of alliance-building or medical insurance or international trade; but you’re never going to get through all of them, so putting together a few fine-sounding words to convince people you know what’s important is about the most you can hope for.
In any case, I don’t think democracy is about choosing the best policies, it’s about betting on individuals and (most important) reserving the right to give them them a peaceful and orderly heave-ho a few years later. To me, it doesn’t look like the Bush administration has earned another four years, and I think the Democrats have established that they’re not bozos and deserve a chance.
The Election · This stage of the election, with most of the ongoing economic and political crises in summer stasis mode, reminds me of a high-level game of Go. Particularly in the mid-game, when life and death and big swaths of territory hang in the balance, it nearly always looks like the player “with the stone in his hand”, i.e. who’s about to move, is behind. The converse is that whoever moved last looks like they’re ahead. Coming off the convention, which was decent television (they’re complaining because “only” twenty million people watched?), the Republicans have the stone in their hand and look weak.
But anyone who predict how the election is going to turn out at this point is just nuts. It’s a complicated, dynamic world, and the only real surprise would be if there are no surprises between now and November.
The Coverage · I didn’t think it was that great; the speeches themselves were evidently better on TV (or Webcast) than in the room, and the bloggers—with the exception of Micah Sifry—didn’t find that much interesting stuff happening off the stage.
David Weinberger, in this not-bad video piece (does anyone spot a trend?) (Hey Dave, face the light), points out that next time around you won’t need to credential bloggers because they’ll be there among the delegates and politicos and janitors. And I think blogs are at their most interesting, and their most different from everything that came before, when they’re by doers, not commentators.
And for a refreshingly different non-American take on the whole thing, see Jonathan Delacour.