The Democratic National Convention was a Social Experiment and It Was a Wild Success

Bulleted commentary on the Democratic National Convention below. Overall, it was incredibly well done given the extraordinary circumstances. Having planned a large event or two, the committee did a phenomenal job and set the bar quite high for the upcoming RNC. I think we all had low expectations for a virtual conference, given our individual experiences with WFH on Zoom. But the DNC pulled it off so well. Let's see how the RNC shakes out.

Day 1

Eva Longoria is a good host, pronounces some words weirdly

Amy Klobuchar loves laughing at her own jokes as she is delivering them

Bernie delivered a great speech.

Kasich whatever. I get it, but I'm still annoyed. Standing at a crossroads literally felt heavy-handed and unnecessary. Like a film location scout found this spot and decided, "Here. This. This is where we shall drop the anvil." I would have enjoyed hearing Bone Thugs' n Harmony's Crossroads as background music then.

Gretchen Whitmer wore what looked like a leather blazer in the dog days of summer. I would have noted this had it been worn by male or female. It’s really hot here, okay? I’m sweating just looking at it

Cuomo was right to highlight this nation divided chose Trump, who amplified division. Not the other way around

Michelle Obama great and virtually perfect, as always.

The musical performances were all insufferable. I feel old. 

The most useful commentary about Biden (as far as I’m concerned) seem to paint him as a genuine empath, which I think is key. Obviously in contrast to the self-absorbed sociopath in office currently. But as a defining characteristic, it matters a lot more than the next most common descriptor, which seems to be “decent.” That’s as devoid of meaning as describing a friend as “nice.” Everyone is nice. Most people are decent. Like is the bar that low? Jon Stewart in some interview somewhere also expressed his optimism for a Biden presidency, noting that this is a man who has suffered. Someone who has experienced such extreme tragedy that he truly understands pain and the need to give and support others in order to survive. So I am optimistic about Biden. 

But not about the musical acts for the rest of the convention. Please make that stop.


Day 2

The roll call was an absolute delight. Cheesy, touching, unexpectedly hilarious at times. More of that, please.

Jill Biden sometimes picks up dead snakes on her runs and leaves them around the house for her family to find as a “prank.” I stand by my assertion that pranks are the lowest form of humor.

I was busy googling about the delegates process this evening, and I have come away with zero understanding. The rules on who is a delegate, how many delegates states can get, bonus delegates, superdelegates, rewarding states with more delegates if they hold primaries later, in-person caucuses in high school gyms, territories can have delegates but can’t vote in the general election, etc. It is so incredibly convoluted, complicated, and inconsistent. Designed to be gamed. We are stuck with this *and* the electoral college? We need a better, simpler process. It’s strange that we are all just resigned to these inane, non representative systems 


Day 3

Nothing will top the roll call of Day 2.

We have one more day of this. Please stop saying, “unconventional convention.” 

Intrigued by who chooses to sit vs stand in with these speeches. Some are at home, which I guess makes standing weirder. Of the longish speeches, I think only Michelle Obama and the Clintons have sat. For Bill, obviously it’s because he wasn’t wearing pants. But what about Hillary and Michelle? I would’ve sat in the comfort of my own home, too, because I have no core muscles now, thanks to shelter-in-place.

Elizabeth Warren is the best. And she used to be a serious conservative! Makes me admire her even more. She is humbly learning always and willing to change with new information, something many politicians are probably too proud to do.

Barack Obama is the greatest orator of this generation. Once in a lifetime, an absolute treasure. His point that democracy was never intended to be transactional, that it requires continual engagement and education—this is a needed reminder. It’s impossible to keep up with all issues, but it would be great if no one opined on things until at least partially informed. Partially informed. And willing to be corrected and further informed. Is that asking so much? 

Kamala did great, especially given the setting. The camera panning out to a huge, virtually empty auditorium made it clear how difficult that speech must’ve been to deliver. Talking to multiple, distant cameras, five masked DNC interns, and a bunch of state banners. 

The most effective and personal-feeling speeches have been delivered by the Obamas, and that is because they are phenomenal speakers, but also because of the camera placement. They were able to talk directly to the camera and look into the eyes of the viewer. Imploring us, as individuals, to do better. They’re like America’s perfect TV sitcom parents after we did something bad—they’re not mad that we elected a sociopath; they’re just disappointed. Biden tomorrow will likely speak in the empty auditorium, and it’s gonna be weird. 

The best part of the musical performances (which I continue to dread) was seeing the sign language interpreter sign the lyrics and almost lip sync with Jennifer Hudson.

Gun control opening: I am not optimistic that any serious reform will happen. If it didn’t happen after Sandy Hook, it won’t.

Clean energy and jobs: all for this, but I really wish we would explore nuclear energy more (in non-earthquake lands). 


Day 4

Gavin Newsom impromptu pre-opener: what was with the camera angle? But yes, California is on fire and wildfire season has barely begun. We are only partly through this, the natural lightning-incited pre-season. We’ve yet to begin the annual man-made PG&E criminal negligence-incited wildfire season. Separately, someone please explain to me why PG&E equity is still allowed to trade. 

Andrew Yang: wasn’t the biggest fan during the primaries, but he has grown on me since I randomly started listening to his podcast. It’s important to note that he got his speaking slot because he tweeted his surprise at not being included. Some read it as whiny, but it was a real slight: 1) UBI is as valid and viable an idea as ever, 2) I haven’t been watching, but I believe he has been making a name for himself as a CNN commentator since quitting the race, and 3) look at all the other buffoons invited to speak. Nearly every other former primary candidate was slotted—including Michael Bloomberg, who was universally disliked. As an Asian American, Yang’s initial exclusion felt disappointing. Just like all the other times Asian people have been overlooked and overshadowed by pretty much every other race. So I’m glad he said something, whiny perception or not. We too often don’t.

I love Julia Louis Dreyfus, and she delivered a bunch of jokes of varying quality with aplomb. Odd that all four emcees of the convention were actresses. We already know Hollywood is liberal. It is a hard job, but they couldn’t find women in other industries? A reporter? A comedian? A writer? A talk show host? A CEO? A brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, or a criminal? 

Finally, a musical performance I enjoyed: Common and John Legend

Bloomberg shouldn’t have gotten to speak. I know he donated a bunch of money but wtf. I do like how he wasn’t included in the zoom chat of “what it was like campaigning with Joe” with all the other former primary candidates. Like they couldn’t even stand to be in the same virtual room with him. 

Cory Booker has also grown on me, particularly since I watched the documentary, Street Fight, about his 2002 Newark mayoral run. But I will never forget how, when asked what his campaign trail comfort food was, he replied, “veggies.” 

Still can’t stand Mayor Pete, and I am not sorry. 

Biden: excellent speech. I needed to hear him get through a lengthy speech without wandering off-script or biting his wife’s finger. I’d like to fully dismiss all the cognitive ability doubts (which I, too, had). He seems very humble so hopefully he will not begrudge the fact that everyone’s expectations were so low. In addition to everything awful we’ve been reminded about Trump about all week, I am glad Biden also brought up the empty infrastructure promises. It’s been Infrastructure Week every week for, like, decades. 

Enjoyed all the Biden biopic storytelling before his speech, too. Like I didn’t know Biden was a public defender. That earns him so many points in my book. And he calls his grandkids every day. His wife got a call from his unknown number one day which led to their first date, Amy Klobuchar described getting a call, Andrew Yang got a call, Julia Louis Dreyfus got a call. TIL if you give Joe Biden your phone number, he is going to call you.

So impressed with the execution of this virtual convention overall. Innovative, creative, poignant, informative, entertaining. The logistics of the roll call alone. I can’t even imagine. Bravo, DNC.

The Trump Presidency has been its own insidious virus, an infection that snaked its way into the heart and is now choking the soul of this country. Some of the symptoms will take time to shake, and some of the damage will be, unfortunately, permanent. But thankfully, it’s mostly fixable, and Biden is the antidote right now. This, too, shall pass. 

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Tags: politics

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