The Republican Party gathered in Tampa for their quadrennial convention this week, and to look at them thumping their chests and dancing and shouting ecstatically, even as Hurricane Isaac walloped them, what we see is not necessarily what we'll get on Election Day. The same is true of the Democrats, meeting days later in Charlotte, N.C.
Throughout this political season, I've watched the Republicans go bonkers whenever anything is uttered by any of their speakers deriding President Barack Obama. It's Pavlovian. It doesn't matter what the comment is, if it takes a jab at the president it makes them delirious. It's like the audiences are not even listening to what is being said, they're just waiting for the punch line and their cue to literally go "buck wild."
The television networks oblige, and every night all we see on the screen are the zingers hurled by the candidates at one another. There is no discussion, it's like ghetto teenagers "Playing the Dozens" only without the "Yo Mama" jokes. Nothing substantive will be talked about among this country's political elite until the American electorate rises up and drives a wooden stake through Gov. Myth Romney's gilded political heart on Nov. 6.
It is then, and only then will the nihilistic Republicans who control the House of Representatives make the compromises that are required of them in the upcoming Lame Duck Congressional session to solve some of the critical issues that are on an automatic Dec. 31 timer, and which cannot wait until the 113th Congress is sworn in January, no matter who controls the majority of both houses.
The two most critical issues are extending or allowing the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy to expire, and the budget cutting sequestration that will drive the economy over the financial cliff if they are allowed to make the automatic cuts that are written into law, unless Congress comes up with a better formula of spending cuts coupled with more revenue [read: tax increases] for the government.
Some of the younger people I watch today in both parties are not old enough to have formed any kind of intelligent opinions about any of the issues being discussed. They are just like I was at that age, influenced by family, school buddies, and various other clichés that filter through the otherwise hormonal urges and appetites that rule at that age.
When I was in high school, I attended California Boys State. Every year the American Legion sponsored those weeklong conclaves in all the states to introduce boys to politics.
When I was at Boys State, I was one of eight Blacks among 800 boys in attendance. We were arbitrarily [not ideologically] divided into two political "parties" – the Whigs and the Tories. I can't remember which group I was in, all I can recall is that for the previous seven years, that party had lost the elections for Boys Governor and other top offices.
On the night before the election each party had a rally. We were ecstatic. We screamed. We danced. We knew that we were going to break the string on losses our "party" had suffered. The next day the election was held, and just like before we lost. I wouldn't be surprised if that party is still losing elections at California Boys State.
Look back at every presidential race in the modern [read: TV] times. With only a few exceptions – when Gerald Ford fought off an insurgent Ronald Reagan to win the GOP nomination in 1976; when Ford's successor Jimmy Carter fought off an insurgent Edward Kennedy in 1980 for example. If we look back, except for those campaigns when the eventual losing party was bitterly divided at its convention, we'll see thousands of delirious partisans thumping their chests and cheering themselves hoarse, as if the self-induced ecstasy that comes from seeing their companions, men and women in star-spangled, red, white and blue stove-pipe hats was enough to win the election by itself. It's not.
So don't be swayed looking at the joyous, teary faces of attendees when either Gov. Romney or President Obama speak at their conventions. That's all fluff and cosmetics for the TV audience. The real thing to pay attention to from Republicans is their national efforts to disenfranchise millions and millions of registered voters at the polls on Election Day with their voter ID laws intended to prevent everyone except White, likely Republican voters from casting a ballot. They say it's to prevent in-person voter fraud, but that literally never happens! Never.
So, don't forget on Nov. 6, calmly, determinedly, be sure to vote early and often.