THE Democratic convention was a diverse chorus of conscience with a decidedly female face on it, which was nice to see because female elected officials in America are at the lowest numbers since the 1970s.
There were profiles in courage, symbolized in epic fashion by former U.S. Rep Gabby Giffords reading the Pledge of Allegiance to close the convention.
Sister Simone Campbell, organizer of the "Nuns on a Bus" tour in opposition to proposed Republican budget cuts, speaking only if Democrats allowed her to affirm her "pro-life" position on abortion, said that "we went on the road to stand with struggling families and to lift up our Catholic sisters who serve them. Their work to alleviate suffering would be seriously harmed by the Romney-Ryan budget."
Democrats also gave a prime-time spot to Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law student who was not allowed by Republicans to testify before Congress and was called a "slut" by conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh for simply saying that contraception should be covered by employer health plans.
From Bill Clinton's "brass" to Michelle Obama's elegance, the convention was masterfully orchestrated, a testimony to Democratic Party Chair Deborah Wasserman Schultz who hails from my "hometown" of six years, Delray Beach, Fla.
Michelle Obama sounded the Democratic Party theme: "When you've worked hard and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you; you reach back and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed."
Elizabeth Warren, running for the U.S. Senate after Republicans in the Senate blocked her nomination to head the consumer protection agency that she created, talked of economic morality. Warren is the primary target of the Koch Brothers and Wall Street in her race against Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts.
"People feel like the system is rigged against them," Warren said. "And here's the painful part: They're right. The system is rigged. Look around. Oil companies guzzle down billions in subsidies. Billionaires pay lower tax rates than their secretaries. Wall Street CEOs – the same ones who wrecked our economy and destroyed millions of jobs – still strut around Congress, no shame, demanding favors, and acting like we should thank them."
Another of the party's strong women, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Mulhern Granholm, electrified the crowd in a speech that singled out the number of jobs that the auto bailout saved in each state. "In Romney's world cars get the elevators," she said, "and workers get the shaft."
Former President Bill Clinton surgically dismembered the mendacious rhetoric of the Republican Party in a historic speech. Dare I say the best of his life? Of course, if Obama is re-elected, the odds of Hillary Clinton becoming the first woman president in 2016 rise substantially.
"Though I often disagree with Republicans," Bill Clinton said, "I never learned to hate them the way the far right that now controls their party seems to hate President Obama."
And then there was Obama, in a careful address, who spoke of the soul of his presidency by quoting Abraham Lincoln.
"While I'm proud of what we've achieved together," said Obama, "I'm far more mindful of my own failings, knowing exactly what Lincoln meant when he said ‘I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.' "
And then there was this note of foreshadowing a full week before Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney disgracefully injected himself into an ongoing attack on the U.S. embassy in Libya before any facts had been known: "My opponent and his running mate are new to foreign policy," said Obama at the convention. "But from all that we've seen and heard, they want to take us back to an era of blustering and blundering that cost America so dearly."
Because the presidential race takes up all the oxygen, it is easy to forget that our government is steered mainly by congressional, state and local officials. At its convention, the Democratic team put its best foot forward, featuring female leadership and portraying itself as a thoughtful, nuanced party.
John Watson is the former publisher of the Sunday Dispatch in Pittston. He lives in Seattle. Contact him via email at [email protected].