September 12, 2012

Me Vs. Music

I can’t go for that …

I’ve watched two political conventions in two weeks, each with a very different soundtrack.

I’m happily way left-of-center, and I make no apologies for being fond of our president. I will also let you know that I did find some evil joy in watching the Republican National Convention drag on night after night.

Let’s start with the RNC. They lost a night due to the hurricane, and the three days that followed were a funeral of sorts. It was a funeral for a once-great party of thinkers and doers who have been co-opted by a band of ignorance peddlers, liars and frauds. For three nights, I watched the GOP blame President Obama for things that happened before he took office and cast aspersions on a record that does show that our country is not faltering but working slowly toward its financial recovery.

I watched them give their speeches and, in between, I listened to a cover band led (sadly) by ex-Hall & Oates guitarist G.E. Smith. If you’ve ever seen “Dancing with the Stars,” then you recognize the kind of music I’m speaking of. They could play just enough of a song to remain in the fair-use realm, but were limited to the few covers that most wedding bands butcher on a regular basis. To me, this speaks volumes about the party the GOP has become. It is no longer a party of people with ideas, unless you mean bad ideas.

The GOP has spent an entire presidential term sucking up taxpayer dollars with no other goal but to ensure that Mitch McConnell’s statement, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” was a possibility. So hearing the sad, limp music of their convention and seeing the whitewashed old party with hanging, floppy faces like bloodhounds, I didn’t feel a sense that their message was effectively transmitted. I felt sad that this is the best they could do with all of the money being poured into the race for Romney. My feeling after watching their convention was, “That was painful.”

Honestly, I was amused that the best they managed in three days was an awkward session of doom reports about a nation that is floundering when the facts clearly say it isn’t. Their winning strategy can’t even win good musical guests. So they got Taylor Hicks while the Dems got Willie Nelson.

Fast-forward one week: We get a convention that starts not with a sea of faces indistinguishable in their anguished similitude, but a room lit by smiles, cheers and diversity. What a difference.

First, there was no cover-band version of Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” We got Stevie’s voice (recorded, but original artist nonetheless). The Foo Fighters performed, as did Mary J. Blige, James Taylor, Method Man, and the aforementioned Mr. Nelson. Sure, many artists lean left, but I think their presence at the DNC says more than that. Artists are constantly searching for and creating ideas. It is safe to say that, as an artist, one might want to be attached to a political situation that has the same or similar goals — new ideas or, better yet, any ideas. Democrats spent their week with one powerful speech after another, and never did the tone turn into a nasty soliloquy of racist comments about the president “not seeing the world as we Americans do.”

Bill Clinton, who clearly outlined the GOP’s platform, rhetorical approach and their inability to use factual information, gave the most enlightening speech of the week. It was amazing to watch Clinton work his undeniable people-centered magic. It was during this speech that the race became crystallized for many watching. Even many GOP pundits had to call the race won after watching Clinton. It isn’t, but, as usual, Clinton makes a strong case.

There is a stark difference between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. There was a stark difference between the conventions. One was a morgue of stale ideas filled with obstructionists pandering to a soundtrack of bad country music; the other was a celebration of what it really means to be an American today — diversity, integrity and the dedication to creating a better future, not just for the self but for all, and for much better music.

Erica Rucker is a freelance weirdo, writer and professional wedding/portrait photographer at eElaine Photography.