Political conventions have always been noisy, chaotic affairs that got on my nerves. Held in mammoth arenas with thousands of crazed politics addicts, all dressed from head to toe in red, white and blue sequins, everyone trying to look more outlandish than the next person, and the end result is everyone looks the same: nuts. The TV cameras zoom in on the flashing donkey hats, glow-in-the-dark campaign buttons, and the placards with cheesy slogans. It all has the feel of a circus run amok.
The screaming is constant, while journalists interview people on the floor, having to yell to be heard, even though they’re standing side-by-side. It’s like trying to have a conversation at the top of your lungs while the band is playing in the noisiest bar in town. It’s exhausting, even to watch. For someone like me, who struggles with anxiety that has intensified over the last four years, a conventional convention only adds to the feeling that I can’t catch my breath and my body is about to fly apart.
This year is very different, thank God. Forced to go virtual like the rest of life, it’s actually been quite meaningful and a pleasure to watch. The speeches have been shorter and informal, as if I’m sitting with the speaker in their living room and they’re talking just to me. The states’ roll call Tuesday night featured representatives from each state in a setting that characterized that state’s environment and culture. It was so cool to be reminded of the vast diversity of America, while getting an intimate glimpse of our fellow citizens and where they live.
Michelle Obama’s speech Monday night was heartfelt, urgent, and motivating. Gabby Giffords, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, the Clintons, Speaker Pelosi have all delivered powerful messages. President Obama’s speech last night was outstanding, as I’d expected. The nostalgia and longing for a statesman in the Oval Office almost made me cry, but his words gave me a glimmer of hope. Maybe it is possible that one day, this country’s highest office will once again be held by a normal person who doesn’t make me deeply ashamed to be an American. Fingers crossed, ballot ready.
I can only assume that the Republicans will do something similar with their convention next week, though I won’t be watching. I’ve heard enough lies and vitriol in the past four years to last a lifetime. And I can’t imagine that the My Pillow guy or Kid Rock will have anything quite as compelling to say. In this of all election years, I do NOT have hear both sides to determine for whom I’m voting.