One Take on the 2020 Virtual Political Conventions by Sophia Kouidou-Giles

August was the month of political conventions in the United States, a time when parties put on their best accomplishments and vision for the future, while emphasizing the deficiencies of the opposing party. This year’s virtual coronavirus version has televised the usual basic agenda that ends with the acceptance speech of the nominee. Although devoid of the pomp and circumstance that the adrenalin enthusiastic delegates contributed in the past, the events have featured the famous, the lesser known and the ordinary citizens on television screens giving speeches, telling stories and reviving optimism in America. We, the observing audience, screened the information, took sides, cheered or stultified the messages attempting to gain our allegiance and vote.  It has always been two major parties delivering political theater, but the divisions among the voters are deeper.

After four afternoons of viewing, the virtual Democratic Convention projected awareness of the issues on people’s minds, prime among them the pandemic, the economy and the systemic racism toward minorities. The conventions are taking place amid a tropical storm and a pandemic, coincidental signs of the times and passions of the politics of the day. Ineffective leadership has allowed this virus to kill nearly 180,000 Americans, very much a living symbol of an ailing society, thirsty for sunlight. The economy is tanking. The promise of light replacing darkness, respect for the people and their rights, a vision for a better future, and specific policy proposals filled the airwaves. As the social safety network has been frayed in the past four years and basic rights threatened, I am thirsty for a nominee that is the conciliator who can redirect the energies of people to constructive endeavors. Also, his selection of Kamala Harris, a woman vice president who is black and South Asian and represents minorities in this election, has lent positive energy to the campaign. It has been a great antidote to the disparaging messages, the egocentric, vague, and bragging statements of the current president.

The democratic candidate came across as a decent, empathetic human being, whose years of experience could guide this country away from fear, away from the autocratic style of Trump. The inclusivity of all citizenry in planning for the future was a theme of this  candidate. As he said, “… the job of a president is to represent all of us, not just our base or our party. This is not a partisan moment. This must be an American moment.” Proposing policies that are based on science to manage the pandemic, striving for fair taxation, the creation of jobs, a reasonable immigration policy, support of the police and regard for the right of the people to vote was clearly championed. Testimonials about Trump’s character as caring were offered by speakers, but his four year record has irrevocably tarnished that image for me. After all, it is Trump’s administration that ripped children away from their immigrating parents. It is the party that limited medical abortion services to women. It is this party that fueled riots by sending the army to Portland and Seattle to create havoc. This is the new swamp in Washington that needs to go.

In my opinion, Trump’s political alienation from the party he is supposed to lead and the people’s agenda is tangible, to the extent that several traditional republicans declare they will vote for Biden (The Lincoln Project). Tactics of attack and divisiveness do not inspire a nation. The self-indulgent businessman is failing on so many fronts. Easy to identify are audiences without masks, the lack of empathy, demeaning statements about his opponent, and an emphasis on army/police power tactics even after George Floyd’s death. Most offensive is a general disregard for facts; the man is ready to lie and is not embarrassed by constant corrections.

We are getting closer to the election day and will know who the winning party is after they count all the votes.  My concern is that a lot could happen to challenge, boycott and prolong the determination of who will govern next. The effort to dismantle the post-office is the most recent evidence of such disruptive plots. For me, one thing is clear: I know who will get my vote. I join the side of a new promise for a decent, caring America. Michelle Obama said it well: “Vote as if your life depends on it because it does!”

Sophia Kouidou-Giles

Sophia Kouidou-Giles, born in Greece, resides in the USA. Her work has appeared in Voices, Persimmon Tree, Assay, The Raven’s Perch and The Time Collection. Her poetry chapbook is Transitions and Passages. Her memoir, Επιστροφή Στη Θεσσαλονίκη, published in Greece, is forthcoming by She Writes Press, entitled The Return.

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