mr. zilla goes to town

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Lick Bush In '04

Although I live in a joyfully TV-free household state, one thing I've been missing and thankfully catching on C-SPAN's excellent site has been the speeches at the Democratic National Convention.

The Dems have advanced solidly to plant the flag right in the centre of the electorate. On the whole, they're running on a platform of John Kerry Fought In Vietnam as the fulcrum to lever the Bushies out of office. Perhaps the most hilarious example of this was Bill Clinton's tarring of Bush and Cheney, who also did not go to Vietnam, as similar to... Bill Clinton! That's some wily ninja verbal judo, man. Edward's speech included a fiercely bloodthirsty line about destroying terrorists, but the best speaker at the convention apart from Clinton was Illinois senatorial candidate Barack Obama. Great oration, take a look.

I think you really have to be careful here not to enter the echo chamber of your own hopes the way the entire Dean campaign did, but I'm actually pretty optimistic about Kerry's chances of winning. A comment I read recently summed it up as follows: consider the number of people who voted for Bush last time who will change their vote to Kerry. Now consider the number of people who voted for Gore in 2000 who are going to swing their vote over to Bush. I suspect that at a rally for the second group all you would hear is the crickets. Granted, with the predominantly winner-take-all electoral college system and the particular 'swing states' in play, its not that simple. And both parties are fiercely attempting to enrol new voters which may alter the balance here or there.

Nonetheless I remain optimistic. Kerry is a bland inoffensive patrician who readily fits the mould of 'anyone but Bush', and the jury is still out on whether the convention will immediately deliver a bounce in the polling, but the Bushies came away with no gotchas from the Democratic convention. Seriously: the biggest stories in that respect to pop were Teresa Heinz Kerry tellinga reporter to 'shove it', and that Kerry himself had a sweaty chin during his long speech. Heaven forbid! Pretty hard to get any traction on Mrs Kerry's impoliteness by the way when recently on the floor of the Senate the Vice President told a Democratic senator to go f**k himself.

One aspect of the event that jazzes me a little, is the flag-waving, triumphalist rhetoric about the uniqueness of the upwards social mobility that can occur in the US, as if there were no other country in the world where this is possible. Speaker after speaker crowed about their downtrodden roots to establish their authenticity and credibility as men (generally) of the people. However stats I saw recently (but am too lazy to find the link to at the moment) showed that upward economic mobility in the US is at present the lowest it has been in 50 years. Apparently post WWII, approximately 25% of the bottom quartile of households were making it into the top quartile of income groups within one generation. That figure is now down to approximately 5% making that leap. Upward mobility exists, but the magical Disney kingdom of opportunity is more a feature of history, and the national identity mythology, than a tangible reality today.


  • I share your cautious hope my friend. Any you're right I think, about the "American myths." They're so pervasive that even othercountries sometimes miss them for what they are - nice stories, that realy don't hold up what so ever.

    By Blogger Chris, at 2:46 am  

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