BY SKEPTIK SINIKIAN
The dust has settled and the waters appear calm again–but Democrats have yet to feel the bump in the polls that everyone predicted from their Democratic Convention last month in Boston. Pundits predicted that the Kerry-Edwards ticket would make a ten point gain in the polls after the scripted and rehearsed display of political clout that is the Democratic National Convention–but alas–they’re still waiting for a boost in numbers that will not come. Don’t wait too long boys–the election’s just around the corner (less than three months to be exact).
Here’s why I don’t think there was any major gain in the polls after the Convention and you’re welcome to add your own two cents. First of all–the Democrats have no message. They can’t make up their minds. They’re more confused than a dyslexic contestant in a scrabble tournament. The second reason is that this election is one where most people have already picked which side they support and are sticking to their choice.
Here’s a sample of the schizophrenia that has taken over the Democrats. One day–they claim to be against the war in Iraq and bringing the troops home–the next day they’re talking about a stronger military–intelligence–and "finishing the job right!" One day they’re criticizing the Bush administration for handouts and tax-breaks for corporations and large businesses–the next day–they’re handing out farm subsidies to farmers and agriculture business and paying farmers to burn and destroy their crops. The contradictions in what they say and do are so great that it’s no wonder that Senator Kerry has been labeled a flip-flopper.
Much like the Republican Party–Democrats realize they have a base of support they need to count on to do the party’s dirty work–make calls–talk to voters–donate money. But they realize elections are won by winning over the center or the "undecideds" as they are called in campaign-speak. That explains why the real extreme Democrats like Howard Dean–Al Sharpton–Ted Kennedy–and Dennis Kucinich weren’t allowed to speak during prime-time television. Unless you’re addicted to CSPAN or you’re a feminist member of Greenpeace who owns a new-age music store in Santa Cruz and listens to National Public Radio all day–you wouldn’t have even known these guys were at the convention. Instead–those of us who were unfortunate enough to catch the ridiculous spectacle on TV endured hours and hours of dull–uninspiring speeches which focused more on John Kerry’s four months on a swift boat in Vietnam than on how he plans on improving the nation’s economy. In fact–if it wasn’t for commentators telling me I was watching the Democratic Convention–I wouldn’t have even known there was a difference in between Republicans or Democrats.
Sure–the speakers mentioned one or two sentences here and there about real issues–but it was usually followed by a comment like "And if you don’t believe me–just ask the guys that served with him in Vietnam!" What guys? We’re supposed to take advice from a bunch of folks that hung out with Kerry for four months? FOUR MONTHS!?? I’ve had relationships that lasted longer than that where I still knew NOTHING about the person after it was over. But the Democrats have to play the Vietnam card because they finally have a candidate who served in the war instead of dodging the draft or smoking doobies in a commune outside of Berkeley.
Hindsight is 20/20 and when we look back on this convention next year–we’ll be able to see exactly where the shortcomings of it were. But for now–my advice–if any–to the Democrats is "Pick a message and stick with it!" And "Anyone But Bush" is not a good enough message. Say what you will about the Republicans–they have a goal–albeit ridiculous–to end terrorism. I think it’s a ridiculous goal only because I’ve grown up watching another Republican war on an imagined and invisible enemy fail miserably–the war on drugs. You can’t declare war on just anything. Democrats are no better. They’ve declared war on racism and on poverty in the past but their declarations have been symbolic. My point is that even though some of you may dislike the Republican leaders or their agenda–at least respect that they have one. And if you’re a Democrat supporting Kerry–pray that he comes up with a clear message soon. "Hope is on the way" is not an exciting chant or rallying call in this nation’s time of need. This is what John Edwards told people to say when faced with tough times–"Hope is on the way." Just what Americans want in time of great need–someone who tells them to yell for "Help."
Speaking of help–I’ll need all the help I can get just to stay awake through the Republican Convention in New York later this month. Especially when Dubya takes the podium. On second thought–sleep isn’t such a bad idea. Someone wake me up November 3rd –the day after the elections when the circus has decided to pack up it’s tent and leave town.
Skeptik Sinikian lives and works in Glendale. His hobbies include watching CSPAN and giving his unsolicited opinions to innocent by-standers. He can be reached for comment at [email protected]