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The Miasma Of Bipartisanship

By Niranjan Ramakrishnan

27 August, 2008

As part of the pre-Convention program on Monday, C-SPAN showed some footage from conventions past. One of the speeches was from the 1988 Democratic Convention, the speaker was Ann Richards. It was a stark reminder of how far the Democratic Party has fallen in 20 years.

With her languid manner, easy cadence, instinctive pauses at the right times, Ann Richards made the audience yearn. She was withering in her scorn. Having watched the original speech, the only line I remembered was the one about poor George, he born with a silver foot in his mouth. I had forgotten the rest of her speech, which drew blood with each turn of phrase. She could have given the same speech this week without change, with just the names of the characters updated, and it would be just as relevant. Consider this: "They tell us that they're fighting a war against terrorists. And then we find out that the White House is selling arms to the Ayatollah". Or this, "And you don't have to be from Waco to know that when the Pentagon makes crooks rich and doesn't make America strong, that it's a bum deal."

But more striking than any particular punchline was her attitude of disgust, anger, contempt, and scorn for all that had taken place during the Reagan years, palpable in her every word.

It has been two days since the 2008 Democratic Convention started, and not one speaker has come close to expressing the nausea one hopes any decent person would have developed for this administration. Instead, all we hear are hosannas to that persistent Democratic weasel word of conventions past, 'bipartisanship'. Of the war in Iraq there has been scarcely any mention (Dennis Kucinich was given a non-primetime slot, where he through an enthusiastic speech, too rushed and breathless for much effect -- it bears mention that he never even mentioned his own impeachment resolution).

Once again the Democrats have fallen into the Republican trap and set about proving that they are patriotic. This time they feel saddled with another burden of proof, to show that they are American. Election consultants are to Democratic candidates what defense contractors are to the country. Two days into the convention, the Democrats have not come close to showing their anger for what has happened to this country, how it has been terrorized by its own government, and how its lives and wealth have been squandered to make money for a few, the warmongering and the war profiteering, the serfdom that is in store.

High-tech videos and soft-touch lifestories have never yet roused a people, and will not this time. Without the kernel of anger and indignation, all else is but a frill. With the kinds of speeches we have heard so far, the Democrats could do worse than replay Ann Richards' 1988 address. But that would be partisan, divisive, and disruptive, no? To paraphrase Robert Frost, Democrats have become too bipartisan to make their own case.

Niranjan Ramakrishnan is a writer living on the West Coast. He can be reached at Some of his writings can be found on indogram.

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