Friday, 29 July 2016

balloon debate?


It's fascinating being in the USA for the two political party conferences.

Having seen last week's elephant Republican Convention, this week it's been the turn of the donkey Democrats, with a roller coaster start on Monday as they started a re-uniting of their party after the prior nomination process.

Thursday night saw a slick conclusion with Hillary Clinton's pitch to the predominantly friendly crowd in the mammoth convention centre and then enough balloons and streamers to fill the whole conference center.

The reporting is difficult to judge, because compared with UK television, there seems to be more tokenistic attempts at balance, so sometimes it will be 5 or 6 to one in the subsequent debates of a topic.

Another difference is the appeal to both party faithful and to those watching on television based on patriotism - particularly noticeable in the Democratic conference. The stars and stripes were very evident in the orchestration of the last night's assembly. Many of the rectangular cards carrying messages and slogans earlier in the week had been supplanted by the flag and simpler one word messages on vertical poles. A sea of flags. Aside from a few non-party UK events like The Proms, we just don't get this kind of patriotism appeal.

The Democrat messaging was entirely different from last week's trumped-up use of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. To be honest, I'm not sure that the Republicans would really have stood by last week's story telling, except there was really no choice by this stage.

The Democrats, instead of talking about building walls and throwing people out of a reconstructed insular USA, talked about a unifying force. Instead of last week's theme of "It's all broken and I (Trump) can fix it", this was "We can be stronger together"

I preferred the sentiment of inclusion in the second conference, but to achieve results there were some huge implied spending commitments. There were glossed over statistics about how massive new infrastructure spends and college rebates could be provided by taxing the rich and mega-corporations. Curiously the subsequent media commentary didn't really pick up on these numbers points, preferring the easier discussions around personality and more impressionistic matters. Maybe analysis is for later in the campaigns?

It's fascinating to watch some of this, but I'm not sure how most of America will weather the next three months of TV shows, based upon these two conventions. Or even whether many people watch or take an interest beyond the short sound bites.

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