A message to unite America versus a fearmongering president who aims to tear us apart
It has been a study in stark contrasts, from an opening prayer by a Latino minister in Florida, who asked God to bless “all of us, Republican, independent and Democrat,” to yet another train wreck of a speech by President Trump, who warned of “radical left” extremists trying to “abolish the suburbs.”
We’ve been watching the first nights of the Democratic National Convention, a strictly digital affair because of the pandemic, and we’re being reminded of the country we love, the one we thought we knew, the one we want back.
The one where most people care about other people. Where enough of us understand we’re in this together, as much as we might give each other fits. Where most of us know our diversity is our strength, as much as that jabs at our comfortable complacency.
“Help us, oh Lord, to be ever mindful of the most vulnerable among us,” the Rev. Dr. Gabriel Salguero said in his opening prayer at the convention.
That’s right. We had almost forgotten. We honestly care, as a country, about “the most vulnerable among us.” Words like that used to sound perfunctory. Now they feel imploring.
Meanwhile on Monday, Trump stood on a tarmac at an airport in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and warned of hell to come if Joe Biden — amiable, center-left Joe — is elected president, which Trump said will happen only if the election is “rigged.”
“They’re going to take away your Second Amendment. They’re going to make America a sanctuary for criminal aliens,” he said. “They also want to abolish the suburbs by allowing far left Washington bureaucrats to force the construction of low-income housing projects in every neighborhood in America.”
In three sentences, Trump hit a scaremonger’s trifecta: Democrats will take your guns, let immigrant thugs kill you in your sleep and station Black gangbangers on every suburban corner.
But back to the Democratic convention. Back to the America we still believe in despite the last 3oe years.
Rep. James E. Clyburn of South Carolina talked about American unity, which he said he still believes in despite the angry racial justice protests filling our streets — or maybe because of them.
“Much like the country as a whole, we are stepping out from the shadows of our past and beginning to lay the groundwork for a more just future,” he said. “It won’t be easy. We can only succeed if we move forward together. So we will need a president who sees unifying people as a requirement of the job.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, in his own way, talked about unity, too — the kind that defies party differences. The lesson of COVID-19, he said, is that we rise or fall together.
“Americans learned a critical lesson, how vulnerable we are when we are divided,” Cuomo said. “And how many lives can be lost when our government is incompetent.”
Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama deplored “some politicians” who “try to pit us against each other.” And he invoked the names of two civil rights icons to remind us — Lord, how we need reminding — what our nation at its best is all about.
“It was here in Alabama where Rosa Parks helped ignite a movement by refusing to give up her seat on the bus,” Jones said. “And it was here in Alabama where John Lewis marched across a bridge toward freedom.”
Jack Schlossberg, standing next to his mother, Caroline, invoked the words of the grandfather he never met, John F. Kennedy, to remind us that we’re a whole lot better as a nation when a president asks what he can do for his country, not what his country can do for him.
In JFK’s famous speech accepting his party’s presidential nomination, Schlossberg said, he called for “courage, unity, patriotism” — values “as important today as they were in 1960.”
Meanwhile, back on that tarmac in Oshkosh, Trump did his best to cast doubts on Biden’s cognitive health, based on nothing, invoking the names of brutes — the autocrats he admires most — to make his point.
“He’s shot, he’s shot,” Trump said of Biden. “Look, one thing I’ve learned Putin, President Xi of China, Kim Jong Un, Erdogan of Turkey. They are world-class chess players. We can’t have a guy who’s shot and in his best years wasn’t very good.”
Political conventions are not the fun they once were. The party’s choice for president is known beforehand and there’s little intrigue. A virtual convention, it turns out, offers even less excitement. It’s like a telethon.
But we’ll be watching this week all the same. We’re appreciating the measured tone, the lack of bombast, the premium put on basic decency, the respectful effort to communicate.
A sense of things we’ve sorely missed washed over us.
And we’ll keep an eye on Trump, too, just as long as necessary.
Narrator: In our last episode, Bullwinkle was protecting the super-secret Ferris Bueller Report that could topple the government.
Boris Badenov (watching as stacks of pages from the report are thrown into the air): “Quick Natasha, gather up papers.”
Natasha Fatale (applying lipstick to her mouth as her leg remains in the office aisle: “I am no longer member of proletariat. I voted Republican 10,704 times in Michigan in 2016.”
Boris: (Grabbing pages of documents and stuffing them inside his coat): “Ha, now we give incomplete secret document to top U.S. officials for TV news.”
Moose: “There’s page 7, 9, 12, 16, 33, and …” Rocky Squirrel: “Hokey smokes Bullwinkle! What did you do?”
Narrator: And just then Attorney General Bar D. Door reveals the result of the report to the waiting nation.
Bar D. Door: “This report conclusively proves Russia had nothing to do with anything ever.”
Boris: “I am brilliant spy.”
Natasha: “Ha! He had original. We could have stayed home and hacked some more on our computers.”
Boris (shouting to news media): “Russia election interference is fake news! Invented by Moose and Squirrel.”
Narrator: In the meantime, somewhere in Pottsylvannia, Russia’s Fearless Leader was hatching a new terrifying plot with Agent X to endanger the world.
Fearless Leader: “The liquid in this vial will destroy America. Make sure it gets into the right hands.”
Narrator: And those hands belong to none other than that vilest of villains, Boris and Natasha.
Boris: “We must sneak this into drink of Mr. Big in White House.”
Natasha: “Impossible. Mr. Big is way too big.” Narrator: As fate would have it, Bullwinkle J. Moose, after several appearances on Fox and Friends in the morning, has been appointed the president’s Big Science Moose Detective, or BSMD.
Rocky: “You don’t know anything about medicine.”
Bullwinkle: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but if you don’t have health insurance you don’t need an apple.”
Narrator: And so one day a Moose, of all people, found himself standing next to Mr. Big as the news broke that a worldwide epidemic had erupted.
Moose: “Fortunately, this bottle of fluid was just handed to me that will kill 99.9 % of all germs.”
Mr. Big: “Is this true?”
Moose: “It says so on the bottle and I saw it on Twitter. Also says right here it may cause nausea, internal bleeding, terrible gas and death in some people over the age of 65.”
Mr. Big: “It’s worth the risk.”
Moose: “It will also bring a high gloss sheen to your car’s tires if used according to the directions.”
Narrator: Fortunately, just at that moment our hero flew in to save the day.
Rocky: “Give me that bottle, Bullwinkle! You should never drink this stuff!”
Bullwinkle: “Maybe. But it prevents hair loss if applied daily to the scalp.”
Narrator: Having saved America from yet another crisis, Rocky set off for Frostbite Falls, Minnesota, where protests had erupted in the streets, creating the perfect distraction for even more dastardly deeds.
Boris: “We throw mail into wrong slots inside Post Office and all votes go to Fox News for counting.”
Natasha: “Am on cigarette break.” Boris: “No time. Put on sandwich board sign and march for social justice outside.”
Natasha (marching outside wearing sign): “Defund the U.S. mail. No more letters, no more bills. Make America Great Again.”
Narrator: Can this mean the end of democracy as we know it? Is there no longer anyone who can tell right from wrong? Is satire closer to the truth than the news?
Bullwinkle: “Is this really the most important job in our country?”
Mr. Big: “You’re holding the flag. Nothing is more important than that. Now pull it out while I sink this putt.”
From left: Rep. James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., former first lady Michelle Obama and Sen. Doug Jones, D-Alabama, speak Monday on the first night of the Democratic National Convention.
Rocky and Bullwinkle, about to be blown up by Boris and Natasha.