As a political fan, I of course watched both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. These conventions are mainly political infomercials, meant to convince the average voter to vote for Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.
But they’re also very useful for something else. The conventions show what the parties are like. They show the soul of the parties.
The RNC is very Southern. It’s one of the things that I noticed about while watching it. There’s the country music, there are the Texans wearing cowboy hats, there’s a very small-town vibe to it. It makes you realize that there’s a reason why the South votes Republican. Southerners are simply more culturally comfortable with the Republican Party.
Republicans also really really really love America. The stereotype that a lot of Republicans throw around is that Republicans love America more than Democrats do, and I feel that there is something to it. Both parties agree that America is the greatest country in the world, but Democrats always try to explain why. Or they add a conjunction: “America is the greatest but… America is the greatest if… America will be the greatest when…” Republicans just say “America is the greatest country in the world.” They put a period at the end of the sentence instead of a conjunction. There’s no need to explain why America’s the greatest country in history. It just is.
The RNC is also very white. I remember watching the RNC for the first time four years ago, and it came as quite a shock to me. I hadn’t realized that the Republican Party was that white. You get used to it the second time around, though. The fact that I grew up in California has a lot to do with that surprise. I have to remind myself that California is not very representative of America as a whole, and that there are many places in America (i.e. “real America”) where a scene like the RNC is the norm.
But it’s not as if all Republicans live in homogeneously white places. After all, lots of Republicans come from the South, which has a high black population. So Southern Republicans must be used to seeing a lot of non-white people around as well. Aren’t they weirded out too when suddenly everybody else is white as well?
The DNC is kind of the opposite. There are a lot of black people at the DNC. It was kind of surprising as well; I feel that there were more than last time. Of course, this has a lot to do with Barack Obama being an inspiration to the black community. I do worry as a Democrat, however, that a lot of white Americans will be culturally turned off by seeing so many blacks.
There are also a lot of exotic communities at the DNC. At the RNC it was fun to try to pick out the non-white people. At the DNC there are so many non-whites that there’s no point. Instead, it’s fun to pick out people who are neither black, nor non-white Hispanic, nor white. You could occasionally pick out the East Asian. I saw a couple of Arab-Americans who were quite angry when the party platform declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel. There were also some South Asians; during Obama’s speech I saw a couple of Sikhs rocking their turbans. You’d never see that at the RNC – they might get lynched (just kidding, kind of). Finally, there was a person holding a sign saying “Brazilian Americans For Obama.” I’ve never actually met a Brazilian-American, so that’s really impressive.
I think that a lot of the ways Americans vote come down to these cultural differences. The politicians debate about policy, but a lot of people vote based on whether or not they would be comfortable in a room in the DNC or RNC. Why is New England so Democratic, for instance? I bet that it has to do with a lot of New Englanders feeling turned off by the Southern culture of the Republican National Convention.
After watching the conventions, you really get the sense that there’s a cultural divide between the Republican and Democratic parties. Simply put, Democratic culture is different from Republican culture. It’s kind of strange, but it’s definitely a fact of life in this country.