In every outdoor shot of events surrounding the Democratic National Convention, the modern city of Charlotte, hosting the states first such national political gathering, is in the spotlight. Thats good for the ambitious Queen City, and yes, its good for North Carolina. Any viewer unfamiliar with the Tar Heel State by now knows the mailbox is no longer on Tobacco Road.
The event that will renominate President Obama for a second term also has showcased some young party leaders such as Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx. It has brought attention to Gov. Beverly Perdue and Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, the latter in an uphill fight for the governorship against Republican Pat McCrory. But the national party was having a good run, with a much anticipated address by former President Bill Clinton slated for last night.
Democrats complained that Republicans last week in Tampa, despite efforts to build up GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, engaged in never-ending negativity.
Early speakers at the Charlotte convention, however, didnt exactly leave the gloves on the dresser. Contrasting Romneys attitudes about jobs and economics with Obamas, former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland said that if Romney were Santa Claus, Hed fire the reindeer and outsource the elves.
Diversity on display
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro likewise drew contrasts between the Republicans and their convention, which didnt have much diversity among its delegates, and the Democrats, who at this convention as they have at others are showcasing a cross-section of the American people.
Castro, as will be the case with most speakers, attempted to emphasize hope to highlight the value of Obamas emphasis on programs like Pell grants to the disadvantaged for higher education, and to draw a stark comparison with Republican positions that seem to want to leave those people on their own. Personal stories matter, and Castro had one: a grandmother who had come to the United States from Mexico to forge a better life.
Touching on the immigration issue, and not just illegal immigration, Castro said, Our nation is like no other, a place where great journeys can be made in a single generation ... the path is always forward. That is a message central to the Democratic effort to spotlight a more enlightened policy regarding immigrants, by which those who may have been brought to the country illegally as children still should have a chance for education.
The real goal
Democrats did stumble on arrival, hedging a couple of times on a question Republicans have asked about whether Americans are better off than they were four years ago. But now, with health care reform, a bounce-back in the stock market, better housing statistics and a quickening pace of job creation, it seems that many people are indeed better off.
There have been and will be electric moments. Michelle Obama, the first lady, took a back seat to no one on oratory as the convention opened. In her Tuesday speech, she effectively recounted the presidents hard upbringing by a single mother and grandparents. She painted a glowing picture, but a relevant one, for this presidents background is in considerable contrast to that of Romney.
What Democrats want, what their ultimate goal is during this convention, is to rally enthusiasm and support for Obama and his achievements, at home and abroad, during a difficult period when Republicans often opposed him for partisan advantage.
They properly want to underscore the view that government can help and should help those slammed to the ground by an economic collapse that began under President George W. Bush, and that more tax breaks for the wealthy are not a good idea.
By the conventions end, the American peoples choice should be clear.