[Letters] The power of U.S. democracy, on the scene

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[Letters] The power of U.S. democracy, on the scene

I watched the U.S. Democratic Party’s national convention first hand. The marvelous political event in Charlotte, North Carolina earlier this month was in sharp contrast with the political culture we are familiar with.

First, I was amazed by the remarkably festive mood among the roughly 35,000 participants - including delegates, journalists and others - across the city. One of the most noteworthy scenes was a great number of volunteers with diverse backgrounds and age. The only benefit they can get in return for their eight-hour shifts is a T-shirt and a light meal. But they applied for the job - again without any benefits in transportation and lodging - just to see Barack Obama accept his nomination as candidate for a second-term presidency.

Another surprise was activities of various political and interest groups. Women, African-Americans and sexual minorities had clear goals to further advance their rights through Obama’s commitments and pledges.

One noticeable scene was a huge number of police officers around the venue. As pro-life and pro-choice groups vehemently shouted at each other on the street, the police swiftly arrived but didn’t restrain their chanting. Instead, they tried to dissuade both sides from swarming into the road. No one refused or protested the police action.

Most of the delegates seemed to value Obama’s “achieved success” higher than Mitt Romney’s “given success.” Not a few of them could logically refute the Republican Party’s platforms, but they still bet on the renewed hope that their lives would be better if Obama came back to power.

On the last day of the convention, the entire press pool paid keen attention to Obama’s acceptance speech. His address was not as dramatic as I expected, and he demanded all participants to take part in making a better nation. But delegates gave him enthusiastic support as if to demonstrate the power of American democracy. I hope we can also build a mature political culture like that and the sooner, the better.

by Lee Hyeon-woo Political science professor at Sogang University
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