Upon the Democratic National Convention and the Future
Going back to Kennedy, the first president whose speeches I ever read out of personal interest, the Democrats used to be the party of the future, complete with big dreams of a better tomorrow; who proposed great things "not because they are easy, but because they are hard." [I should clarify here that I'm talking about Northern Democrats, not the Southern Democrats who ran the White Primary until the Voting Rights Act of 1965]
Yesterday, John Kerry was campaigning in Florida, a hotly contested state despite being run by Jeb Bush, proposing research dollars for cures to Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other ailments that predominantly afflict the elderly. While no one wants a cure for Alzheimer's disease more than my family, I couldn't help but see through the good intentions and find ordinary political pandering to the locals, who will most likely be dead by the time that cures for these diseases are found. I don't care what he says to the elderly, largely because I'm not one of them, just as I doubt Senator Kerry cares what my generation thinks because we don't vote in percentages significant enough to warrant fighting for. We're simply a non-factor.
Really, I just want to be inspired, as I almost was by Jimmy Carter's speech about being able to trust your government; and how our government should be respected by other countries out of admiration rather than fear of reprisal. I think that Carter is probably the single greatest representation of what America should and could be all about, and that's helping other countries to help themselves. Politically, Carter got a raw deal, in the way that time may look back on the current Bush regime; however, Carter really elevated the role of the ex-presidency to a level that Reagan couldn't because of disease, Nixon couldn't out of reputation, and Ford and G.H.W. Bush just didn't care to bother with. Time will tell with Clinton, but I think he's probably too happy kicking back a few with Jimmy Carter's brother to bother going around the world, trying to change things for the better. Jimmy Carter, though, only became a great statesman once he got out of politics.
So, more than anything that I want from this convention, I want to be inspired. To quote Fox Mulder's poster, "I want to believe." However, we're just not being given anything to believe in, at least in terms of our generation. Social security, medicare, prescription drug coverage... there's something in it for everybody except us. Meanwhile, we are the shoulders that have to hold up this country as our parents retire, eventually (hopefully) followed by the politicians who leave the country with a mind-boggling national debt, a bad reputation, an economy that has American companies outsourcing jobs faster than a 1980's General Motors, and what plans do they have for our future?
None. I think that the Democratic Party has gotten so far from being the party of idealists that we're left with the horrific choice of Kerry, Bush (read: Cheney) or voting for Ralph Nader (read: voting for Bush/Cheney). And I found myself wondering last night, if there was any one thing that they could say that would wake me from my political coma and get me to believe in the party again, what would that one thing be? So I thought about it for a moment, and then it came to me like a bolt of lightning from the gods. And I thought about it, and I smiled as I sat back and sang to myself:
I'd like to buy the world a Coke and shower it with love...