Forget Bar Harbor or Nantucket, I’m heading to sweltering Philadelphia on “vacation” for the Democratic National Convention. I’ll be in traffic for hours, traveling with hoards of strangers, eating expensive bad food, staying in a hotel near the airport and waiting in long security lines in sizzling, sweaty crowds – and I can’t wait. It’s going to be huge and it’s going to be great and it’s going to be beautiful.
Yes, I watched the Republican National Convention this week, and the bar is set pretty low. I figure as long as Bubba doesn’t plagiarize his speech, Bernie behaves and the crowd doesn’t break out in a lynch-mob chant to lock up Hillary, it should be a success.
That’s not to say there will be no idiots in the City of Brotherly Love. I am prepared for the angry scrum of Bernie Bros stomping around waving stapled sheets of tobacco-stained paper containing the “rules” and other important creeds while shouting about the injustice of superdelegates. I know they’re just mad because they lost the primary. I understand why they resent this, one more loss to toss on their lifetime’s heap.
The Democratic National Convention is expected to be more fun, more musical and more inspiring than the Republican convention, but that doesn’t mean all Democrats are blue and sparkly and nice. The politics of resentment is practiced by the liberal fringe too.
On the extreme left there is resentment of success. Anyone perceived to be “rich” or found living in a nice town or driving a new car is suspect and there is bias against them. People who appear to have it all are thought to be incapable of understanding or helping people who have nothing.
The extremists occupying the far left – let’s call them leftists – gloss over their spasms of envy with self-righteous piety. They know better than you what it’s like to be poor – they’ve been doing it for a long time. Leftists are not ashamed of their squalor; it’s a sacrifice they’ve made for others, they say with a stiff upper lip.
The politics of resentment on the extreme right is just as annoying. These people – rightists – resent their own failure. They think about a lifetime of disappointment and seethe. If only the minorities didn’t come in here and wreck everything, they mumble to themselves as they crack open another cold one.
“You don’t understand! I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could’ve been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am,” they imagine saying on the big screen.
One thing these fringy elements on both sides of the spectrum share is their deep resentment toward elected officials who engage in the profession of governing. You know, the establishment. Leftists and rightists are cynical when any group of disparate people appears to know, like and respect each other. Leftists and rightists are wary of those inclined to cut a deal or get something accomplished without bloodshed. They think sticking to their guns is always the answer, and they always do. Then they suspect a conspiracy is the reason they’re never asked to be on a blue-ribbon committee.
The other plot of common ground in which the loons from both sides of the aisle stake their claim is the yearning to have more money. Deserving to be richer is a common denominator of those who resent the success of others and those who resent others for their failure.
The leftists don’t talk about their resentment out loud because they are ashamed of it. How can they say they want more money and clout when children are starving and the climate is heating up?
The rightists have the opposite problem. They can’t shut up about their resentment, and God knows they aren’t going to take personal responsibility for it.
So why am I excited about spending the coming week and thousands of dollars at a partisan convention with some of these bozos after watching the spectacle of others on television for the past week?
Well for starters, I can’t wait to hear Michelle Obama and Barack Obama speak. They are gifted orators who call people to their feet in service of others with amazing speeches. I can’t wait to see the beautiful first family on the stage after eight years of being in the White House. I look forward to seeing Joe Biden’s smiling face, too, and hearing Bill Clinton explain how stuff works. It gives me chills thinking about casting a vote for the nomination of Hillary Clinton to be the next president of the United States. I’m eager to see the news organizations and celebrity pundits competing fiercely for the best coverage of heavyweights like Elizabeth Warren and Julian Castro. I’m anxious to see if I actually like the music of Lady Gaga, Lenny Kravitz and Snoop Dogg.
Most of all, though, I’m thrilled to be heading to Philadelphia for the convention because I love our country and I believe in democracy. Because I know most of the people I meet will have ideas about how to improve things and make the world a better place. Because a huge, diverse group of people will come together in a unified belief that problems can be solved. That we are and will remain forever the greatest country on earth. That we need not be afraid.
Cynthia Dill is a civil rights lawyer and former state senator. She can be contacted at: