Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Finakpo' Denver - What I Learned from the DNC #3

What I Learned from the DNC #3:
Ocean of Excited Amnesia
(this is the third in a series of concluding thoughts on my time as the blogger from Guam at the 2008 DNC)

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To the world outside of the convention the purpose of this massive complicated event is to be a show of force, an articulation of their purpose and destiny to lead the country. Inside the convention, on the one hand, the purpose might seem to be about excitement and “revving up the base.” The convention is where the party gets “fired up and ready to go.”

But during my time in Denver, talking to Hillary Clinton supporters, and also interacting with the Guam delegation, the other purpose of the convention, on the other hand appears to be the creation of a mass outbreak of amnesia.

The media coverage leading up to Clinton’s speech was obsessed with whether or not the party could “heal,” whether or not the factions could come together for the good of their party. This coverage was naturally irritating because it always seemed to overstate party divisions and also simplify the majority of American women to become beings who will follow only women. (This was revived for several weeks after the pick of Sarah Palin). But as ridiculous as it was, it nonetheless made clear an idea that haunted me the entire time I was at the DNC, especially when interacting with those from Guam in Denver or from the other territories. And that was the role of amnesia in the making of a successful convention.

The convention is all about the subsuming of the individual interests of different delegates and states, to become a temporary political movement or coalition. Although all may be Democrats, they come from states or territories with different stakes in the future, the direction of the country. Some want ethanol, some want offshore drilling, some want decolonization.

Just as the excitement of the week washed away much resistance from Hillary supporters, who were caught up in the excitement and fervor, this is supposed to be the experience of all delegates and states.

Nowhere was this more apparent than in the case of those with the most “unique” interests, who became the least self-interested of all present. Those I spoke to from Guam, the Virgin Islands and American Samoa were all, by far, the most excited to be there, who shouted the loudest and held their American flags the highest. The reason given was always that we are the smallest, come from the furthest away, we are the most fortunate and luckiest to be here. But these unique factors make them the most susceptible to this collective amnesia, even if they should be the most resistant for so many reasons.

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