Looks like maybe the Democratic big tent is real and not a mirage

President* Trump,

Oh me of little faith! Last night when we’d gotten past the wonderful and wonderfully brief speeches nominating Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden and Tracee Ellis Ross told us that we’d be hearing from all 50 states and the 7 territories, districts, and delegations (not sure this last one is correct – I don’t remember what the people living abroad are called), I let out one of my ginormous exasperation sighs and prepared to be bored, bored, bored.

Oh me of little faith.

It was the best part of the night. There we all were in our geeky, earnest Friday/Saturday/Sunday best outfits, with our homemade signs and symbols of our communities, with our breathtaking backdrops and our scrappy settings as we cast our places’ votes for the nominees. Most of those (obviously) went to Biden and people were variously smooth and not smooth as they proclaimed him the next POTUS, the triumph and the relief on their faces when they’d gotten through that part of the ritual flashing like neon. And, there were enough votes for Sanders from enough of our places that we were all reminded that the Center Left needs the Left Left to win. Between the non-trivial number of Sanders votes cast and AOC’s beautiful speech, it was made clear that the Left Left is a force to be reckoned with and that the Center Left knows the table needs to be big enough to seat us all when it comes to prioritizing and governing.

Did you see any of it? If you did, I’m guessing the rainbow parade of people and places made your blood boil since it so clearly repudiated your false narrative about who we are. And yes, I get that you will likely claim that most of the people who participated were hired hands, actors paid to mouth support for Biden just like you claim people out protesting injustice are paid actors. Even though that’s an elaborate (and silly) fantasy, apparently it’s a more believable (or at least palatable) tale for your base to swallow than the truth, which is that White supremacist MAGA-its (not very nice, I know, but just this one time shouldn’t mess up my karma too much) are not the majority and are not in ascendance. Newsflash – the rainbow people are America and we aren’t going anywhere.

I didn’t do any tallies to see how the speakers did or didn’t balance out with regard to gender or race and ethnicity and I didn’t count how many were elected officials or were representing some crucial part of our collective story. It crossed my mind for a second when there were three or four states in a row where it was White men either presenting solo or getting to do the most talking, but then there was a nice run of women of color doing their thing alone or with one another and I simmered down.

There was obviously some serious care and thought given to how the Biden campaign, and by extension the Biden administration, can compensate for the fact that he’s an old, White, establishment man. They are clearly making a strong case for what a nice (compassionate, caring, empathetic but still tough as nails) guy he is and there does seem to be plenty of evidence pointing to the veracity of this. But it wouldn’t have cut it for an old White man to sail along on his niceness and government creds in this time and place – he needs to be buoyed up by a rainbow of different sorts of people and he needs to convince us that he’s not just using us as window dressing, that he’s really invested in listening to and heeding us all, that he’s invested in governing for and with us all.

My take is that so far, so good. Me of a bit more faith signing out.

May we be safe to be seen.
May we be willing to risk the possibility that the big tent is real and not a mirage.
May we stay strong and vigilant nonetheless.
May we elect leaders who believe we are each irreplaceable, precious works of art.

Tracy Simpson

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