You will notice that a common theme here today, when not considering issues of civil liberties, has been a sort of naive wonder at how, er, “unreal” this convention seems.
I think the root of this has something to do with the fact that I am trapped inside a mental model that sees society’s governing of itself as a sort of scaled up version of an honest, thoughful conversation between two people sitting on a park bench.
Two people sitting on a park bench, I reason, can pretty effectively manage their park bench relationship, especially if they’re open-minded, more so if they are like-minded.
You scale up from that to a town council, and so on until you get to national-scale governing.
Where I break down, and the root of my naiveté, is my assumption that as you travel up this scale you don’t, of necessity, depart from the real, observable, understandable world of the park bench and enter a world of far more fluid, complex, neutrino-like forces.
It is the management of these forces — which by their nature are difficult to manage — that events like this convention are designed for. This is not a series of one-to-one conversations. It’s not even a series of one-to-many conversations. It involves using the battering ram of television to attempt to bash into the minds of enough people, in a seductive enough way, to move the pendulum in your direction.
Several readers have suggested that I get out on the floor and “talk to real delegates” by way of mitigating this primal flow with some real conversation. But real conversation is irrelevant here — what one person thinks is no longer important, for it is only as part of the collective that their nature can be shaped.
My friend Oliver says, somewhat in jest, that I should “just look for the chi” when trying to understand the measurement of “energizedness” here. And in a way he’s right: “chi” — “the vital force believed in Taoism and other Chinese thought to be inherent in all things.” it says here — is maybe what I’m talking about.
This is a butter sculpture. We are the butter. The convention is the sculptor’s chisel.
Looked at through that lens — which is indeed what the mainstream media are doing in abundance and with considerable enthusiasm — the Democrats are doing a decent job. The butter is taking shape. Dip in.