At the Carol Woods Retirement Community in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, some of America's elders are keeping a close eye on the action in Los Angeles:
Tura Lipscomb: It has been an enormous relief to hear the issues not only mentioned, but
actually discussed. The distinctions between the two parties are very clear
- and I can only hope the right people are listening.
Lee Sloane: Kate Michelman - first to bring up the vital question of Supreme Court
appointments - albeit indirectly, with reference to reproductive choice -
the prospect of Supreme Court appointments is one of the most, if not THE
most important issue involved in this election.
H. Slater: Once again we see that politics in a democracy is a messy business. Nevertheless, when people of good will gather together and speak frankly of the need to address the real daily problems, not only the most prestigious but the least of citizens demonstrate that our democracy is working. I feel that the Democratic Convention is doing a better job of identifying and prioritizing the country's fundamental deficiencies and they are actually proposing some solutions unlike the Republicans at their convention. I sensed a greater spontaneity and a less programmed approach to the issues tonight than we were shown a couple of weeks ago.
James O. Cansler: The opening night of the Democratic National Convention gave us speeches almost without exception, and from President Clinton especially, where full
credit was claimed for the robust economy we now enjoy. The point was
reinforced by warnings that made failure to elect candidate Gore would
ensure a return to high unemployment, mortgage foreclosures, and overall
hard times. Although not mentioned, Vice President Gore's earlier claim to
the invention of the Internet is another example of this human/political
failing. It seems to this writer that such a claim is a disconnect from the
claims of honesty, truthfulness and integrity speakers also emphasized as
characteristic of their leaders and their party.
Surely, credit is due the Clinton administration for a portion of the
exhilerating economic changes we have enjoyed in the past eight years. I
gladly give him that portion of credit he can honestly claim. However, MANY
factors are beyond the control of either party. (Neither) can truthfully argue that he or
it has accomplished that feat alone.
We know these are intelligent, observant and knowledgable leaders who know
better. I believe politics and politicians in this country would be held
in higher regard if readers and listeners were given greater respect by
their not engaging in such gratuitously reckless handling of the truth.
Natalie Fiess: The Democratic Convention is more of a real civic event - not a carefully
staged show minutely scheduled. The GOP probably counted the confetti and
managed a performance worthy of the Rockettes! Tonite, real issues are
being discussed, real people reflect the variety of our democratic society,
and many civic and government leaders are forcefully reminding us of the
enormous importance of the election in November.
Rev. Robert Seymour, Democrat: "I hope the American electorate will not be seduced by the prevalent opinion that since both parties have moved toward the middle, it doesn't matter who wins. This is an alarming opinion, for there are enormous differences: the use of the surplus, drugs for the elderly, gun control, patient's Bill of Rights, campaign finance reform and abortion! Democrats need to underscore the differences! Our nation's future is at stake."
Mary Turner Lane: The first night of the Democratic Convention was a great showcase for women
in the Democratic Party and for the equity and responsibility they have been
accorded by their peers in this Party. The women focused on Democratic
programs that have helped women as home makers, as wage earners, as users of
the Family Medical Leave Act. Women also spoke to the need for greater gun
control and for women's right to choose. As the convention progressed, we
learned more about Gore's proposals' specifics for education, social
security,Medicare, use of the surplus and the budget, defense, gay rights
Frances Selvidge: Here are the issues which are important to me, and I shall be following:
Reducing the deficit
Fair estate taxes
Health Care - accessible for all
Women's right to choose
Helping the less fortunate in this country AND around the world
I hope the debates will bring out enough specifics to be able to make an
Grant Dahlstrom: One of the most serious issues in this election is the power to nominate new
Supreme Court Justices. Recent votes on the Court have come TOO close to
reversing women's rights protections. Gore will work to assure the next
Justices interpret the U.S. Constitution accurately.
Jean D. Cooke: 1. Boring! I've always enjoyed Democratic conventions but this time around
it is not only boring but seems disorganized and poorly planned.
2. All of the elected officials have said the same thing over and over
until it has blurred. In prime time only Diane Feinstein has said anything
specific about issues. Issues concerning the elderly have been glossed over
with emphasis only on prescription drugs that we'll all get, paid for the
Federal Govt. with no cost to the individual. Also, over and over again,
"give us the next four years and we'll fix EVERYTHING. What have they been
doing the last eight? Caroline Kennedy is the only speaker I've heard to
speak about individual responsibility.
3. The background music should have been violins to go with all of the
daytime talk show "sob stories," hard luck stories told by "little people
whose problems have been solved by Clinton-Gore. I thought I'd heard it all
before, but this hard luck, Clinton-Gore will fix it all. The Republican
Convention had its share of huggy/kissy time too. I hope as an adult group
of presumably intelligent citizedns we haven't come to the need for this
4. This is not strictly about the convention, but how long will it be before
the media and all of the people in both parties realize what a master stroke
Sen. Lieberman was. In one stroke it has made Mr. Clinton's only mistake a
moral one and not an administative one.
In a way I feel sorry for Al Gore's poor reception and hope we will have an
exciting campaign, but nothing I've seen or heard so far will change my vote
from Mr. George W. Bush. I like him and the kinds of people with whom he
Maurice Kurtz: I am unaffiliated and waiting...
Both big political conventions, especially in Philadelphia, produced a
3-ring circus: on stage, in the audience and in the VIP box. Bodies, heads,
opinions and judgments were juggled non-stop. Two or three "performers"
intentions are not enough to make, much less sell, a show. Ideas, stories,
people, they are the meat and potatoes of drama and life. Some
soul-searching and an appeal to the imagination can help.
Take me, for example: I've been out of the country for long periods. I
need to have clear-headed ideas backed up by facts, presented honestly, not
launched into empty space like inforcommercials, as pre-packaged blurbs. Am
I the exception to the rule (I do not think so) when I say I expect
authenticity, not to impress or fascinate, but to convince? I think I'll
recognize the Real Thing because it will offer me a glimpse into the Truth
of our situation, national, local and personal.
Truth is not a device. It's discreet opening into a human being's mind and
Jean Spalding: The importance of preserving a woman's right to reproductive choice should
be underlined! Unless Gore is President and in position to make Supreme
Court appointments, the Roe v Wade decision will be reversed, and our
grandchildren will lose the freedom so lately gained.
Robert Seymour: With the nomination of Joe Lieberman for Vice President, Al Gore has
demonstrated great faith in the inclusiveness of our country. Another wall
of bigotry has been broken down. It seems such a short time ago that
restrictive covenants in suburban neighborhoods and country clubs excluded
Jews. Now, at last, we can stop talking about tolerance and claim equality
for all Americans irrespective of their faith or origin. It is time to
James O. Cansler: In response to the extensive attention given to education at both the
Republican and Democratic Conventions, two thoughts are offered. First, the
emphasis is surely welcome, because it is desperately needed. Education
deserves all the suport this nation can provide. Second, we miss the mark,
in my view, when we talk of all we will do to "make sure every child gets a
world class education" and say nothing of the students' central role in the
I have heard promise after promise to provide sparkling new facilities, the
latest equipment, smaller classes and teacher respect, all of which are
assuredly important. However, it seems to me that the speakers in both
parties have failed or refused to acknowledge that learning is ultimately
the work of the students. Without question, thirst for knowledge can be
cultivated by teachers and by learning environments. Educational resources
do, surely, provide the tools for learning. However, these tools are not
education; they only offer the means for it. Why does no one say publicly
that a love for learning - desire to know - if finally up to each person to
embrace or ignore? In education especially, the old saying is true: "You
can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink."
Of course we must offer a "world class education" to every American.
However, the key word is OFFER: educational opportunity requires a learner
response to become education.
The political parties may fulfill their promises with many dollars for
education. My point is this: whether LEARNING takes place in these
promised new facilities will be determined by those tho whom the new
learning opportunities are offered.
Wes Spalding: Three days of speeches proclaiming the accomplishments and goals of the
democrats and the errors of the opposition, and soon we will learn how well
Al Gore can fire up the troops. Many, if not most of the speakers invoked
God's name in gratitude and supplication. Let us not forget about the
separation of church and state, and that the accomplishment of worthy goals
will require hard work and statesmanship.
Maurice Kurtz: The symbol of Presidential Conventions for the unaffiliated like me, can be
summed up in the banner of the Missouri delegation: Show Me!
It's all well and good to focus attention on major problems, to contradict
your opponent, to extol the talent, knowledge and experience of candidates.
There's no place however for facts and solutions to convince the TV viewer.
Prime time is short, and the Show must go on!
Presidential elections then become a springboard into High Drama where
anything goes, including intrigue and political assassination. This Play
can be divided into Three Acts:
Act One: Primaries and Conventions with candidates and ideas running wild.
Act Two: The long Campaign with its myriad ups and downs punctuated by debates, unsavory revelations, whatever can disarm or destroy the opponent.
Act Three: Election Day -- and Night! -- with or without suspense, that end with a Happy Victory or a Tearful Defeat. Where and when do I fit in?
Students from the University of Colorado in Boulder give us their opinions.
Wesley Herrin, Democrat "First I must comment on the terrible coverage done by C-SPAN. The camera
shots were ineffective at best, they couldn't adjust the sound levels so you
could hear who was saying what (or even hear the crowd cheering), and in
general I got the feeling that they just really didn't want to be there. I
was highly offended by the lack of professionalism shown by the C-SPAN crew,
especially in comparison to the coverage of the RNC.
The first night seems to have all the big-name speakers: Mayor Webb, Mayor
Archer, the six female Senators, first lady Hillary Clinton, and of course
President Clinton. All the speeches were performed exceptionally well and
were spoken from the heart - this is why the Democrats are the better party:
we actually mean, and stand up for, what we say. If the rest of the
convention is anything like the first night, it should be a blast. I only
wish I had been able to go.
I was also pleased to see so many important issues being addressed, such as
pro-choice, better health care, and the need for a freshly elected
Democratic Congress. I am hoping other vital issues will be discussed
within the next three days, such as better funding for higher education,
stricter gun control, and even better environmental protection. Once these
and other issues are highlighted, then the Convention will be a success.
(Herrin was moved to offer a couple of political quotes, too:)
"Enter here the timeless fellowship of the human spirit."
-Dr. George Norlin, former President of CU
"We cannot be satisfied as long as a colored person in Mississippi cannot
vote and a colored person in New York believes he has nothing for which to
-Martin Luther King Jr., March on Washington, 1963
Here's my response to the DNC.
Dylan Wiersma, Green Party: The first night of the DNC appeared as contrived as their Republican
counterparts first night two weeks earlier. While criticizing the GOP for
parading token minorities on stage, the Dems mirrored this action while
exclaiming they were "real" thing, a tolerant and inclusive party.
Granted there weren't any ignorant Texans taking off their cowboy hats to
pray for Melissa Ethridge while she sang the Star Spangled Banner, but at
the end of the night, the Dems were cheering the same as the GOP, "Let's
elect two white, heterosexual males to our presidential ticket." The Dems
were a little arogant to claim they have overcome racism, sexism,
heterosexism, and classism. Our gov't, split between two parties, is
still disproportionately white, male, heterosexual, and wealthy.
Highlighting the female Senators leading up to Hillary Rodham Clinton's
speech was the one redeeming quality of the night. It was empowering to
see these women stand up and address issues facing women in the U.S.
Finally, the Clinton's, possibly the most charismatic couple ever to grace
the White House, gave two rousing speeches. Like the first night of the
RNC, I felt disappointed that the final speaker, Bill Clinton (Colin
Powell @ RNC), would not be on the ballot in November.
The second night of the DNC was fairly uneventful. They quickly brought
up two important issues of difference between the GOP and Dems: abortion
and gay rights. The theme of the convention seemed to be on pointing out
every difference between the two parties answering to critics like Ralph
Nader who calls them Repulicrats. Jesse Jackson gave a great speech. I
almost swore never to vote for a Democrat again though, when Leiberman
interrupted Dr. Stephen Hawking's speech. Here is a man infinitely more
intelligent then the entire Staples Center crowd combined speaking about
politics, and every moron in the arena turns around and has a cow about
some senator from Connecticut. I was so utterly disappointed that the
rest of the night was ignorable. Not being a Democrat, I could care less
about how the Kennedys are doing in their Camelot fantasy world.
Al Gore almost won my vote on the final night of the convention.
Although, like every politician, he was spouting rhetoric, he brought up
one important issue after another. I didn't agree with everything, but
most of what he said was powerful and not as far center as I expected.
Probably the most important part of the well written speech was not in the
text at all. Gore actually presented the material well and without the
stiffness the media has tagged him with. He doesn't have the charm of
Clinton, but it is easy to tell that a little of it has rubbed off.
Gore's appeal to the left encourages me. I'm going to have to think hard
between Gore and Nader. My vote for Nader isn't as solid as before, and
my vote could certainly change in the next few months.
Chuck Hogan and his wife hosted a group of Parent Teacher Association members at their home in Cambridge, Vermont Monday evening to watch the Democratic
National Convention. There was a mix of party supporters, including three Republicans, one Democrat and three Independents (one Bush and two Gore supporters).
"In all, we felt that the convention got off to a very slow start. The most
effective early speaker was Mayor Riordan of Los Angeles. There were too
many poor speakers to really grab our interest. That all changed with
Senator Mikulsky of Maryland. We felt she not only spoke to the group, but
had a style that made us take notice. She was a very forceful and dynamic
speaker. However, parading the other women senators did little to follow
on her performance. In essence, we felt that we were just hearing the same
thing over and over again.
It was at about this time that we were called and told our focus group would
not be needed tonight, so the guests left and my wife went to bed, no one
seemed interested in hearing Mrs. Clinton or the President speak. I,
however, watched both. I realize that the Clintons have been in power for
eight years, but they should, at this point, be pushing Mr. Gore to the
forefront. I found both speaches lacking in this area. When Mr. Gore was
mentioned, it seemed to me to be as a minor bit player in our national drama
of the last eight years, with little projection of his abilities into the
next four. The amount of time spent talking about 'Joey' gave me to think
that Mr. Lieberman should be the nominee, not Mr. Gore.
A mix of groups including labor union representatives, small business owners and other citizens from across the U.S.
Don Lance, labor union rep., Akron, Ohio:
"As we sat watching the convention this evening, it struck me how well they
showed the diversity of the Party. The accomplishments over the last eight
years for working people, children, and the working poor were well
The part about elected women played a bit too long, but showed the strength
of Democratic women officeholders and candidates.
I felt the President engaged the crowd and set the tone for the work that
lies ahead for the delegates this week. The most important thing for them is
to focus on the point: 'Are we better off than we were eight years ago?'
This is the message which I feel will resonate with voters and bring people
to the Gore column.
In the area of Ohio where I live, many people hunt. Almost every household
has a gun. The gun control issue turns people away. The consensus is that
gun control only takes guns away from law abiding citizens; not the
criminals. We have no big cities near us, so we have few big city problems.
That's about it for now. Talk to you tomorrow."
Francis T. Kehoe, firefighter, Akron, Ohio:
"First let me say that given a change in our electoral process, I firmly
believe that President Clinton would win another four years in office. The
man is a wonder, and it is nice to see him riding out at the top of his
The convention itself, much the same as the earlier one in Philadelphia, is
a sleeper. I would rather see these political parties
donate some of their monies to art organizations. It all seems like so much
pandering to foregone conclusions. Perhaps if we supported art organizations
instead of wasting our resources, we might unleash a creative storm that
would surprise us."
Jolenta Walczak, steelworker, Akron, Ohio:
I'm very impressed to see that under President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore, that my native country of Poland was brought into the NATO alliance.
Also, it was quite interesting to find out from all the different ethnic groups particularly women how well they have done under the Clinton/ Gore administration and I think this will continue under the Gore/ Lieberman administration.
Rich Hiles, steelworker, Akron, Ohio:
As usual the president's speech was electrifying. However, I think he could have included the Gore/ Lieberman ticket in it. It almost seemed to me that he was running for four more years.
And ethnics seem to have done much better for real rather than as a proposition like in the Republican convention.