The major political parties made their pitches to the American people, with the Republicans in Tampa, Fla., last week and the Democrats in North Carolina this week.
We turned to the Canadian expat members of our U.S. Election 2012: Canadians in America series to share their reactions on what the conventions accomplished.
Jonathan Havercroft, a political science professor in Oklahoma, from Montreal:
Both the Republicans and the Democrats are running the Reagan playbook. The Republicans are using Mr. Reagan’s 1980 line “Are you better off now than you were 4 years ago.” And the Democrats this week responded with a variation of Reagan’s 1984 “Morning in America” theme.
What struck me about Mr. Obama’s speech tonight is how he kept the themes of hope and change from 2008 but turned them around. Gone is “Yes we can” in its place was “You did that.” An interesting rhetorical twist where it is now the people bringing him hope and change rather than he being a messiah figure.
Jonathan Li, who lives in Chicago, from Toronto:
As a liberal, the highlight of the conventions for me was definitely Michelle Obama’s speech on opening night. It was heartfelt and deeply moving, and for the first time in a long while I felt that same electric energy as I did in 2008. Her speech reminded us of our ideals – of why we still care about this election – and I think it set the stage perfectly for Bill Clinton and Barack Obama to draw contrasts between the Democrats’s vision for our country and the Republicans’s.
I think most Americans already know in their minds who they prefer, and I don’t know that either convention flipped many people’s preferences. But I think Michelle, Bill Clinton, and President Obama accomplished the vital yet difficult task of motivating Democrats and centrists who weren’t sure they would vote this November to show up and vote for Mr. Obama. In that way I believe the DNC has been hugely successful.
Colleen Pendergast, who lives in Nantucket, Mass., from Edmonton:
I thought Bill Clinton’s speech was also good, though he lost me for about the last 20 minutes when he rattled off data that seems, at times, even he was questioning. His honesty about the far right hating the president and the consequences of that for the country was right-on. His discussion of the war between parties was also dead-on, though he didn’t fair much better himself at the end of his own presidency.
Clinton was a great president, in my opinion, and is clearly a leader. I don’t think Obama has been or will be a leader. I am not sure about Romney, as he seems to say whatever is popular at the time and I don’t think that is leadership, either.
As for me, an undecided voter who has been a Democrat forever, it didn’t change anything for me because the last four years speak for themselves and they just haven’t been good enough. Maybe the debates will help shed some light.
It was nice to see Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren speak as I think she has a very promising political future. But, it was hard to watch someone whom I respect have to say, through gritted teeth, that President Obama has taken on Wall Street. Elizabeth Warren actually does walk that walk, so I don’t know what she had to tell herself to be able to say that one.
Sri Artham, who lives in San Francisco, Calif., from Toronto:
Policies aside, the Democratic Party in recent times has been seen as the party of losers: Not willing to stand up for what they believe in and too weak of a team to put up a good fight.
This week the Democrats proved that they're ready to win. The keynote speeches were beautifully co-ordinated. It started with Michelle Obama’s touching speech about her husband’s character, making a compelling case that he is by far the better man. Bill Clinton set the record straight, like only he can, on the progress Mr. Obama has made in his first term and the flaws in Mr. Romney’s proposed policies. Finally, Barack Obama closed by painting his vision for his second term and America’s future.
Each played to their strengths, and as a collective proved that this team of Democrats is ready to fight, and has the talent to win.
Jenny Zhang, who lives in Raleigh, N.C., from Ottawa:
As San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro put it, the American Dream is not a sprint, or a marathon, but a relay. Nowhere was this theme – of passing the torch, of paying it forward, of building a society where nobody slips through the cracks – more eloquently expressed than in the First Lady’s address on the opening night of the DNC. Her personal history, and her display of utter faith in the president’s integrity and conviction, was nothing less than inspiring.
I can’t deny that I’ve been disappointed with some of Mr. Obama’s policies, but I’ve been equally frustrated with those who use that disappointment as an excuse to opt out altogether. Mr. Obama didn’t turn out to be the magic eraser for this country’s many structural problems…so what’s the alternative? Sitting idly by while the advancements of the last few decades are rolled back?
Michelle Obama’s speech was a much-needed reminder of why, when things seem at their grimmest, we need to keep soldiering on. Someone worked really hard to give us what we have today, and we owe it to them to work just as hard to ensure a future that’s more progressive and more prosperous, for all. Forward, indeed.