Last night, a friend of mine offered this summation of late summer’s political season: “Conventions are so conventional.” And much as it pains me to admit it, a more succinct and appropriate description of the past two weeks in national politics I have not yet found. The conventions of political conventions can get pretty freaking exhausting: the yelling, the fist pumping, the hordes of carefully distributed mass-produced signage, the catchphrases and buzzwords and “American values” and “American families” and “God Bless Americas” thrown thick and fast around superdomes and across arenas.
Yet beneath the trappings of gimmickry—both red and blue—that so enshroud these late-summer party tents, there are some real statements being made about the demographics, priorities and emotional cores of the Democratic and Republican parties. And though last night’s DNC did feature the exceptional speeches of Deval Patrick, Julian Castro and our beloved FLOTUS, it came as a sweet relief when the Dems’ relentless mantra of “Moving Forward” was left alone long enough for the convention footage to speak for itself.
Because folks, a picture is worth a thousand “Moving Fowards.” And my favorite picture of last night was this one: Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic ladies of the House spanning the Charlottesville stage in every color of the rainbow; the rainbow in this case being both figurative (Nydia Velazquez of New York and Gwen Moore of Wisconsin were only two of the eight or so women of color on that stage) and literal (those ladies were rocking more solid jewel-tone pant- and skirt-suits than I knew existed).
The words put forth weren’t too bad, either. The representatives called, individually, for America to stand with Obama in championing health-care reform, combating violence against women and ensuring small business growth. My personal favorite speaker of the bunch was actually Pennsylvania Representative Allyson Schwartz, who declaimed in measured and comfortingly scream-free tones about the necessity of Medicare to all Americans, about her own experiences caring for an aging father, and about the commitment of President Obama to protecting and improving Medicare coverage.
But the image of those women all together on that stage, more than any other of the night, displayed what I believe to be the Democratic party’s true strength: the support base of women and communities of color from which it draws. Sure, the demonstration of solidarity with oppressed minorities didn’t go nearly far enough. Sure, Nancy Pelosi pissed me off with her ginormous pearls and her insistence on introducing herself as Grandma Mimi, and extolling her ultimate feminine role of wife and mother. Sure, the closing send-off music was a hackneyed choice: that The First Wives Club classic “Sisters Are Doing it for Themselves,” which features such delightfully normative lines as “the ‘inferior sex‘ got a new exterior” and “we ain’t layin plans, cause a man still loves a woman, and a woman still loves a man.”
And sure, it may be getting terrifyingly difficult to tell these conventions apart; hell, it might be getting terrifyingly difficult to tell these party politicians apart. But at the end of the day, as Sandy Hingston so rightly pointed out in her piece on the RNC ladies, what self-respecting, sane woman would actually choose to vote for Mitt Romney, to align herself with a party that clearly gives not a shit for her rights or humanity? Especially when the ladies of the Democratic House are rocking such rad fuchsias and ceruleans.