Editor’s Notebook: Live from Charlotte DNC: Michelle and Democrats Push Stories of Struggle
by Richard Muhammad
Editor, The Final Call Newspaper
(CHARLOTTE - September 5, 2012) - The contrasts between the Democratic and the Republican conventions are stark from a convention center that looked full in Charlotte, NC versus a large arena in Tampa. The faces of the crowds and even the pictures on newspaper pages are striking as well with a pretty striking --- a lot more Black and Brown folk and a picture that looks more like the actual racial makeup of the country.
Mom-in-Chief and FLOTUS Michelle Obama rocked the house with her speech and Julian Castro, the Latino mayor from San Antonio, stepped into the national spotlight with his recitation of his family history as an American story. The theme that ran through the First Lady's speech and the Castro speech was an element of struggle and families that achieved despite the odds. The story of Castro's grandmother working as a maid, babysitter and domestic all her life and his mother's work as a civil rights leader is much different from the millionaire club lineage of Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential hopeful.
The life of Mrs. Obama's father, who suffered from MS and used a walker at times, was also compelling. As she talked about the pain he endured and lifting his legs, one at a time, to get up the stairs to the family apartment in Chicago. Both speakers focused on how in this country, there is always a desire for children to do better than parents, and that future direction is what the election is about and the competing visions between the DNC and RNC. One shuts the door after making it and the other keeps the door open to expand opportunity for others. “Barack knows what it means when a family struggles. He knows what it means to want something more for your kids and grandkids,” said Mrs. Obama.
The president pushed health care reform because it was the right thing to do, which reflects how he was raised, she added, in defining what her husband “stands for.”
The question is will these words and stories generate enough enthusiasm among Blacks, whose support could provide the critical margin for winning several states.
And will the arguments convince a sliver of enough of the White vote to give the president a second term. That road, however, is uphill. As Askia Muhammad, senior correspondent for The Final Call newspaper and radio veteran with WPFW FM in Washington, DC, noted the Republican game plan is to “suppress, discourage and anger Black voters,” and anger White males with welfare scenarios and racist appeals. “That’s the only way they can win,” said Muhammad over a morning chat with coffee. “This is not about ordinary people … this is about stoking the anger of White males and suppressing the Blacks,” he added.