Quotation from Mark Krikorian at The Corner (conservative group blog):
"Even Palin couldn't get me to vote for McCain, but her daughter's pregnancy just reinforces what seems to me a big part of her emotional appeal. It's more than her being a relatively normal person; rather, her family represents vitality and life — the men are virile, the women are fecund — as opposed to the effete, navel-gazing, metrosexual arugula-muncher heading the other ticket. The only downside is that her grandchild won't come before the election."
This seemed like a good introduction to a general line of thought I was having, which was:
I cannot identify with the Republican party. I mean, I know Republicans who are totally great people and with whom I can relate. But anyplace where that's a legitimate sentiment is just beyond me. It's not even meant to be condemnational (in this particular instance)--it's that I am generally an extremely empathetic person, I'm all about seeing the other side and putting myself in someone else's shoes, and when I read things like that all I can think is, "What planet are you from?"
Similarly, I've thought to myself a few times about the incredible disparity between the two parties in terms of diversity. Footage from the DNC showed a crowd of great diversity--both genders (I have no idea if anybody there was genderqueer, intersexed, or trans, but all I can go on is what's readily visible), all races and ages. The RNC is a sea of white (while both genders and all ages are represented--although I don't see so many children brought by their parents. I haven't watched as much, though).
What made me sad about this was that Chris Matthews (not that he's known for his great progressivism) referred to the Democratic party as "an incredibly diverse party." No. It's a party that reflects the diversity of the nation it seeks to represent. Rather, the GOP should properly be referred to as " an incredibly homogeneous party." Homogeneity--and in particular white homogeneity, which is the true media definition of unremarkable nondiversity--should not be the default. It's an inaccurate portrayal of the population of this country. (You know if a convention's audience was entirely black, or entirely Asian, it would be remarked upon. An entirely white audience, generally, is not.)
Probably more than the videos looking back on past Republican Presidents and achievements (George H. W. Bush? Really? The guy didn't even win reelection), more than all the sepia tint, more even than the reference to Reagan's having "saved our century" (you can have that one, we'll take this one, kthx) or the age of the Republican nominee, that all-white crowd screams to me that this is the convention of a party of the past.
Not because white people are suddenly going to become the underclass (white supremacists, calm down) or because miscegenation (oh noez!) will make everybody the same lovely shade of latte (weird)--because this country used to be white, by a huge margin. The majority is still white, but most likely only for a few more decades (at which point whites will become the largest minority, or maybe even be eclipsed by Latinos--I don't know, I don't remember the statistics). Either way, this country has never been completely white; and it ceased declaring that it would serve only whites decades ago. How well that change has taken root is a difficult question, although I think few would disagree that there is more to go, and that notwithstanding, Obama's nomination is a huge testament to progress. A perspective that sees and serves only white people is bound to be doomed, and at this rate by sheer force of market share alone the Republican Party as it is now will become obsolete. (This became certain when most Latinos, leaving aside Florida, figured out that GWB and John McCain weren't actually very good friends and started voting Democrat.)
Anyway. Something about that makes me sad too. Not out of love lost for the GOP, certainly; I just, I don't know. I look at all these very white, very classically American people getting so excited at their convention, and it has absolutely nothing to do with me, nor I with them. Partly, as Rachel Maddow indirectly said*, I have the feeling that most of those people wouldn't like me much if they knew me. Partly, we live in two different worlds within one nation.
*Maddow was talking about the Clintons back in 1992 when she was a fairly apolitical 19-year-old. She was saying that at the time she was glad to know they'd be around for a while, on TV and so on--because it seemed like if they met her, they wouldn't hate her. (What with her being a radical lefty butch dyke and overeducated to boot, and all.)
Actuallly (damn, epic footnote), that more than anything else humanizes the way some conservatives can react to national candidates who are not of their race or economic class (i.e. don't pretend to be of their economic class). Probably that makes me an elitist too. I don't know.