The Democratic National Committee, whose conventions in 2000 and 2004 were marred by left-wing protests (the former ultimately undermining Al Gore’s chances to become the 43rd President), has apparently learned nothing from that painful experience. The Denver Post reports that protesters at this year’s convention will be corralled behind fences, in an attempt to bury their legitimate concerns about a party whose commitment to its own stated values tends to depends on day-to-day exigencies.
They know this won’t work; in fact, they should realize that the effect of such action will be exactly the opposite of their desired goal of a convention scrubbed clean of Clintonistas, a captive audience for what should be some pretty amazing additions to the Obama personality cult. Given their understanding of the stakes, and their knowledge that a Democratic victory in November will be the result of long-simmering resentment among the American people, particularly among the young and the poor, it’s worth questioning the party’s commitment to winning. Imagine the blogging that will come out of that protest pen; imagine the camera-phone video that will come out after the inevitable civil unrest.
The smart thing would have been to let the protesters protest, allowing them to engage the self-satisfied suits who run the party, trusting that Obama (who is extering enough control to move party operations from DC to Chicago, but has remained silent on the protest-pen issue) is a real enough deal to bring all these people together. Instead, Howard Dean and friends are handing the Republicans an opportunity to present the Democrats as being too factionalized to run the country effectively. After all, the Democratic congress has done nothing since they took over 18 months ago, seemingly afraid of the slightest criticism or blowback from actions that the American people elected them to put into motion, and the primary process was marred by public infighting that is only now starting to cool down a bit. The Democratic convention could potentially serve as Exhibit A for the proposition that the Dems don’t have what it takes.