Bill Clinton, above speaking at the World Economic Forum in January, had the crowd pumped and energized at the DNC
From the DNC, Day 3: Us vs. Them rhetoric; Clinton speechifies
By Isabella Fuentes
Yesterday, the 5th day of Spetember and the penultimate day of the Democratic National Convention, was a masterclass in democratic rhetoric by (who else?) the masters of democratic rhetoric.
Chris Van Hollen, John Hickenlooper, our very own Patty Murray, and other powerful Democrats provided strong arguments for the reelection of Barack Obama. As soon as the convention officially started at 5 the party began and it didn't stop until (spoiler alert!) Barack Obama walked off the stage at 11:30 p.m.
The main story of the day and the reason for the President's visit was revealed midday: Mother Nature hates politics. Due to weather concerns (a warning is in place) Obama's acceptance speech was officially moved from the vast, uncovered cauldron that is the Bank of America football stadium (capacity 75,000) to the itty-bitty but roofed Time Warner Cable arena (capacity 20,000), meaning that 55,000 delegates, guests, and press won't be able to see the speech despite having been already given credentials for it. The reason for the move is not the weather itself but its implications for peoples' actions; a few months ago, the same thing -- a politician speaking to a nearly empty, storm-battered stadium -- happened with Mitt Romney. It was a huge embarrassment for the campaign and the media had a field day with it. Substitute incumbent president for former governor and high-stakes nomination acceptance for stump speech and you have the Obama campaign's worst case scenario. The campaign wasn't willing to take that risk, so the venue was moved. Smartly and safely played by them, but leaving a lot of dejected delegates wandering aimlessly around Charlotte. Out of sympathy, the Obama campaign concocted a not-so-secret surprise (motorcades are not known for their stealthiness) that was his visit to the hall tonight.
But before that nightcap came a lot of speechifying but also genuine inspiration. Yesterday was about social issues and human politics; in contrast today was mainly about two things: the economy/business and the idea of us vs. them. The Republican party has long been the champion of businesspeople everywhere with its emphasis on trickle-down economics and the free market, but tonight a couple of businessmen-turned-politicians as well as the Costco founder (representing Seattle!) dropped by to argue that one can be a democratic businessperson. That is, one can be a businessperson who still has a strong moral compass. And to assert that Mitt Romney can't, three former employees of companies that Bain Capital took over and bankrupted (while Bain walked away with tens of millions of dollars) talked about their personal encounters with Mitt's style of management.
In addition, lots of words were spewed about Obama's budget plan compared to Romney's, a fight, Dems said, between forward with new ideas and backward to the ones that got us in trouble in the first place. An oft-spoken line was "the economy isn't grown from the top down but from the middle out and the bottom up." This election was cast by almost every speaker as a contest between the top vs. the middle and the bottom: that President Obama is a hardworking, middle class fellow who knows about and cares for average Americans, one of "us," while Mitt Romney is not a bad guy but an entitled elite who is decidedly one of "them." Speakers, such as Elizabeth Warren and Sr. Simone Campbell, argued that Obama has stood by women, minorities, veterans, the LGBT community and the middle class -- and now it's time to stand by the President by nominating and voting for him.
And offering the nomination was none other than President Bill Clinton. His speech was vintage Bill: witty, charismatic, intelligent, and beautifully blending facts and rhetoric. Everyone in the arena was fired up already and Clinton's speech ratcheted it up. After almost every line he delivered the crowd emitted guffaws, caustic boos, or deafening roars of approval. And that was before our president walked out. When Barack Obama stepped on the stage the arena exploded with a sustained cheer as our past and current presidents clasped hands in their own show of solidarity. It was a display of affection and emotion only serving to support claims made throughout the evening that Obama is one of "us," someone who will work to help regular Americans and will stand by Main Street no matter what.
It reminded me of an Elizabeth Warren quote: "We built it. Together."