The good thing about conventional wisdom is that it's just one step from being passe. The conventional wisdom on political conventions is that they're become nothing but parties and scripted programming, with none of the backroom politicking of the days of old. Well, who says those days were so good?
In fact, as Bob Geary's report on the Democratic convention this week shows, it is also a marketplace for the discussion of issues and the exchange of ideas and information. It is a place where the powerful importance of this year's election is being pronounced. There is no better example than President (and Nobel winner) Jimmy Carter's speech Monday night. Since the daily newspapers only saw fit to carry one or two quotes, here's a significant chunk of it. Read it, and understand why Carter concludes that, "At stake is nothing less than our nation's soul."
"As you know, our country faces many challenges at home involving energy, taxation, the environment, education, and health. To meet these challenges, we need new leaders in Washington whose policies are shaped by working American families instead of the super-rich and their armies of lobbyists. But the biggest reason to make John Kerry president is even more important. It is to safeguard the security of our nation.
"Today, our dominant international challenge is to restore the greatness of America - based on telling the truth, a commitment to peace, and respect for civil liberties at home and basic human rights around the world. Truth is the foundation of our global leadership, but our credibility has been shattered and we are left increasingly isolated and vulnerable in a hostile world. Without truth--without trust--America cannot flourish. Trust is at the very heart of our democracy, the sacred covenant between the president and the people.
"When that trust is violated, the bonds that hold our republic together begin to weaken. After 9/11, America stood proud, wounded but determined and united. A cowardly attack on innocent civilians brought us an unprecedented level of cooperation and understanding around the world. But in just 34 months, we have watched with deep concern as all this goodwill has been squandered by a virtually unbroken series of mistakes and miscalculations. Unilateral acts and demands have isolated the United States from the very nations we need to join us in combating terrorism.
"Let us not forget that the Soviets lost the Cold War because the American people combined the exercise of power with adherence to basic principles, based on sustained bipartisan support. We understood the positive link between the defense of our own freedom and the promotion of human rights. Recent policies have cost our nation its reputation as the world's most admired champion of freedom and justice. What a difference these few months of extremism have made!
"The United States has alienated its allies, dismayed its friends, and inadvertently gratified its enemies by proclaiming a confused and disturbing strategy of 'pre-emptive' war. With our allies disunited, the world resenting us, and the Middle East ablaze, we need John Kerry to restore life to the global war against terrorism."
Once again, we've lined up theaters across the Triangle to show a film that carries a point of view not regularly found in the mainstream media--indeed, a film about the right-wing corruption of at least one mainstream medium. We're sponsoring three showings next week of "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism" in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. There will be discussions after each showing. Hope to see you there.
Looking for a place to watch John Kerry's acceptance speech Thursday night? There are more than 30 parties around the Triangle. Go to www.JohnKerry.com/events to find one.