Oct. 23rd, 2016

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An impression I got watching the Convention was that Hillary, and a lot of others speaking, seemed genuinely happy to get to sound like Roosevelt, McGovern, Carter, Sanders. Not just like they meant it but like it had been quite a while since they got to say these things.

It's nice to eat well and it's nice to be seen as important, but I still think of most Democratic politicians as heroes. Sometimes they're dumb ones, sometimes they burn out, sometimes they've made too many devil's deals to break even and lack the (more than heroic) level of self-scrutiny it would take to realize this and step aside. Sometimes, these days most often in super-Democratic cities where scummy people can't make it as Republicans so, by lying freely, infiltrate the party that wouldn't seem to welcome them, the heroes are in the minority and beholden to, or personally advised by, non-hero compatriots. But the desire to help others is the only heroism there has ever been, and the selection process for Republican candidates (I almost think for becoming a Republican at all) has quite thoroughly screened out those animated by that desire. Whereas it remains the main reason to go into politics as a Democrat, so with Democratic politicians you are mostly dealing with human beings who at least started out with their hearts in the right place. And, as the behavior of politicians has demonstrated amply enough, people change less than you think. Even if their policy positions - pretty necessarily - flip with the wind. And even if it proves both pragmatically and psychologically necessary, which it usually does, to contort oneself so as to actually believe in each newly flipped position. But there's degrees to belief: beliefs against one's grain lack force, aren't clean.

A Trump won't run every year, so we may not often see the veils removed, the spines straightened. But it says something - proves something - that when Democrats get to say what their base wants they sound like they're saying what they do too. Labels aside, there's only ever been one party, and you're either part of it or on your own.

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