Bearing Witness to the Two Americas. The Democratic and Republican Conventions.

Today is week number 23 since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in Maryland and to date, over 175,000 people have died in the United States. Each time I leave the house I worry that I’ll be somehow exposed to the invisible virus.  In less than 71 days we’re having our Presidential and Congressional elections. We’ll be choosing who we want to lead us out of this crisis.  That’s a big deal because our economy is failing, children are unable to attend school,  and many citizens have no reliable source of food or shelter.

This past week we had the virtual Democratic Convention and next week it will be the Republican’s virtual convention.  

Political conventions used to be a big deal when I was growing up. It didn’t matter whether you were a Republican or a Democrat. You watched because even if you thought you knew who was going to get the presidential nomination, you wanted to witness history being made. 

This year because the conventions are virtual, everything was planned in advance. We knew who were giving speeches and who were the candidates, but we didn’t know what would happen in between.  So I got in front of my computer with my husband Peter and we watched for four nights.

I  tried talking about the Democratic convention with a few of my friends but they hadn’t bothered to watch it. Too busy. Maybe later. I’m pretty sure they’re Biden supporters, but that’s not the point. What did the Democratic Party organizers decide were the important points they wanted to emphasize about the candidates, about the direction of the party? Four years is a long time. Think how much has changed in the United States since 2016.

I look forward to watching the Republican convention which starts Monday evening.  Some of the delegates are going to be meeting in person and how is that going to look different from a completely virtual event.  What themes are going to be emphasized?  The Democratic Convention is still available to watch, as are many things online, on YouTube.

For me some of the highlights of the Democratic Convention were the individuals from every state in the nation who  were filmed in a scenic location announcing their delegate vote and their support for Joseph R. Biden Jr. They used their brief moment on camera to give viewers a glimpse of their history and culture. And while their remarks were scripted, the result was warm and authentic. I wouldn’t be surprised if Republicans do a similar roll call. 

Speeches by Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris, Presidential nominee Biden, past presidents and stateswomen made for a star studded cast already announced in advance. So it was the unexpected appearances such as the young boy learning to overcome stuttering with Joe Biden’s encouragement that brought tears to my eyes. 

Other highlights included short documentary interviews with young and old activists who have been working in different ways to combat climate change and Ady Barkan  a young man and father stricken with ALS  who has lost his voice, making the case that all Americans deserve access to quality healthcare. Zoom chats between the primary candidates interjected a little humor. 

If you don’t witness things firsthand, and you wait for journalists to summarize what transpired and for the pundits to tell you whether the production was successful, how much do you really know about what went on?  I’ll be interested to see how the Republican Convention is handled and presented. Wouldn’t you rather observe directly for yourself? I would. 

Two American Flags symbolize two American Points of View.
Two American Flags Symbolize Two American Points of View.

Published by Nadja Maril

Nadja Maril is a communications professional who has over 10 years experience as a magazine editor. A writer and journalist, Maril is the author of several books including: "American Lighting 1840-1940", "Antique Lamp Buyer's Guide", "Me, Molly Midnight; the Artist's Cat", and "Runaway, Molly Midnight; the Artist's Cat". Her short stories and essays have been published in several small online journals including Lunch Ticket, Change Seven, Scarlet Leaf Review and Storynews. She has an MFA in creative writing from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine. Former Editor-in-Chief of What's Up ? Publishing, former Editor of Chesapeake Taste Magazine a regional lifestyle magazine based in Annapolis, and former Lighting Editor of Victorian Homes Magazine, Maril has written hundreds of newspaper and magazines articles on a variety of subjects..

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