Life of the Party No More

So as it turns out, the liberals have quite a deep bench. From the San Antonio stud to Slick Willy, The Democrat’s convention had star performances every night. Unlike the Republican convention, defined mostly for its wacky speeches and empty chairs (more specifically, one empty chair), Charlotte churned with enthusiasm. The delegates and attendees gave the speakers their due attention. They clapped and whooped at the mere mention of the President and pulled out the pitchforks whenever one of those R-names came up. The Democrats united and put on one heck of a show.

In his speech Thursday, the President said, “… the election four years ago wasn’t about me. It was about you. My fellow citizens – you were the change.” As much as I wanted to believe him, I couldn’t. The line was corny and transparent. Four years ago, Barack Obama was a rockstar. I wasn’t and am not now. And while a lot of middle school kids may hope, most Americans aren’t rockstars either. Barack Obama was the point of the election four years ago, and it’s silly to say otherwise.

But he’s not anymore.

He hasn’t been a rockstar for some time. In his own words, he is the president, and he is hardened, battered, scarred, resilient, realistic, political, tough. Claiming that we were the change four years ago only served to lessen disappointment most Americans feel about him now. An historical rewrite to make the current situation more palatable.

Because the hard truth is that Barack Obama can no longer carry the party. Continuing with the rockstar analogy: He’s been releasing the same music, the same guitar solos and screeching falsetto. His speeches and ideas are known commodities. On Thursday, Obama gave an adequate, and unsurprising oration.

The thing is, it’s okay. I was nervous for the President’s convention speech. I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to the hype, that it wouldn’t deliver. I was right. But I was wrong to be nervous.

The DNC wasn’t about Barack Obama the transformational figure. It was about Barack Obama, the man. While it seems bizarre, I don’t think people knew Barack Obama four years ago. They knew an ideal, not a Democrat.

This convention was about a very real person in a very real party, with very real friends and family. There were testaments to his character, to his policy, to his decision-making. Michelle Obama’s speech gave us the specifics, the honest-to-gosh biography. Bill Clinton gave us the choice we face, the historical context in which the Obama presidency fits. Joe Biden gave us the Commander-In-Chief. What was left for the man himself?

The grit.

And that’s what he did. He gave policy details with a little bit of dream. But he grounded the speech in reality, in the very real truth of 2012.

That’s what made the DNC great. Barack Obama was the most human I have ever seen him. In not striving for the grand vision, and letting others speak on his behalf (something that would never have happened 4 years ago), he was more of a man than I have ever seen. And I applaud that.

We know — we have seen — Barack Obama get behind a podium, talk to us about ideals, and send chills down our spines. He could’ve done that the other night. Instead he defined himself and his policies. He used the context of the day to frame his speech. But more importantly he asserted his own autonomy. After watching his speech, voters must recognize it is not fair to pin their eclectic hopes and aspirations onto this one man. He isn’t an Etch-a-Sketch.

He is the president.

And while he may not encompass every last contour of “change” or “hope”, he certainly symbolizes the Democratic Party. Going back to the top. The Democrats have a very deep bench, and they utilized it to remind the American people that they love their President. The DNC was about rallying behind the President, defining the President, but for the first time in 8 years, also showed the Democratic Party is greater than this one man. He’s the President now, but the party runs deep.

Just see what happens in four years.