Two conventions provide starkly different visions

Editor’s note: The Herald published state Rep. J. Paul Brown’s report on the Republican National Convention on Sept. 5. This is his Democratic challenger’s take on his party’s convention.

I watched the Democratic National Convention this year with pride; I saw it as the eye into the future of America.

I started watching party conventions in 1968, the year after I returned from Vietnam. As a Marine, I learned first-hand about the value of working together, communicating during tough times, listening to others, and keeping focused on the strength of community. I felt that same sense during the convention in Charlotte, N.C. – words of encouragement that we all need to work together. We all need to stop ideological politics. We all need to make sure we move forward together as one country.

The speakers were powerful and uplifting. Former President Bill Clinton told the audience how respect, community and kindness can make America stronger. His speech targeted a common-sense solution to the divisiveness of American politics – he described it as using basic arithmetic.

Michelle Obama confirmed that my wife and daughter are right: Women are smart, powerful, and perfectly capable of making their own decisions about their health. San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro awed me with his comforting words and commitment to family.

And President Barack Obama: He instilled the confidence in me that the country is finally recovering and moving in the right direction. We are indeed fortunate. He highlighted the strength of our education system, the future forward for economic growth, and the assurance that we have been and are going to continue to get our troops home safely.

The contrast between the two conventions was startling. The Republican National Convention seemed to focus on gimmicks – like Clint Eastwood and the empty chair – negativity, bashing of the president, and cursory nods to the women many had neglected before. There was no mention of Afghanistan or President Bush.

The Democratic convention, on the other hand, focused on bringing us all together and closing the widening partisan divide. The convention confirmed what many Democrats in 1968 predicted – rights for all people are essential, women should have the right to make their own medical decisions without the government getting in the way, and America will continue to be a strong beacon of hope for the world.

When I served as a Marine, I learned we are only as strong as the company’s weakest link. I learned we must all work together to move the country forward. Those words were echoed during the Democratic convention. I am not a career politician and, in fact, have no interest in ever attending these conventions. What I do know is that we must all work together to provide common-sense government in Colorado. The two conventions and this election provide a different view of our future in this country and in Colorado.

Michael McLachlan is a Durango attorney and the Democratic candidate for the Colorado House of Representatives 59th District. Reach him at 247-8236.