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The Seattle Times Political Caucus is an online community aimed at adding diverse voices to our coverage of politics. How we'll use the Caucus will evolve over time. But the idea is to create a conversation with people of various backgrounds and political beliefs. As the election season unfolds, we'll ask participants to weigh in on key political questions and then post their comments here.

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August 25, 2008 8:46 AM

A "white suburban slacker" takes on the DNC

Posted by Richard Wagoner

This post is by Keith Houser of Bellevue, who is traveling to both Denver and St. Paul to "to observe history 'unembedded' and write about my experiences." Houser is a member of The Seattle Times Political Caucus.

By Keith Houser
A quintessential Seattle evening bid me farewell as I prepared for today's journey to Denver. Gentle drizzle will undoubtedly give way to something alien, and with any luck, strange, upon my arrival. The Mile High City has come a long way since its days as a 19th century criminal backwater, an evolution Seattlites can appreciate looking back on their own history of transformation from soggy lumber town to shiny tech center.
Progressive change defines the history of both cities, and will be the theme of this week's Democratic National Convention. Early today I left to see how well it resonates with the people of Denver.

Conflicting vibrations can be felt emanating outward from Colorado. Glib pronouncements of pride and celebration are readily projected by the party faithful while draconian security measures quietly add a more ominous tone to what is supposed to be a purely festive occasion. As opponents of the city's makeshift concentration camp are calling it, the "Gitmo on the Platte" looms large for those of us who remember what happened 40 years ago in Chicago. As does the government "fusion center" set up to integrate surveillance activities in Denver between the Secret Service, U.S. Northern Command, the FBI, and state and local law enforcement. Public demonstrations will be confined to a predetermined area away from the convention center, surrounded by chain-link fence. I doubt the locals appreciate the militarization of their city but I'll have to check with them.

Just how democratic is the Democratic Party? They obviously fear the demos enough to keep them out of sight, lest they spoil the event by waving a sign at a delegate. Or reminding the starry-eyed party optimists that the Democrats in Congress have signed onto virtually everything Bush has ever asked for. War funding continues, as do post-9/11 police state institutions. It has been my contention for the past seven years that Democrats have been the willing collaborators of the Bush administration not only due to their innate cowardice and ideological similarity to the GOP, but also because they understand something that most of us don't: as the American people continue to suffer under the Bush-Democrat alliance, the Republican Party will take the blame, leaving the Democrats to reap the electoral benefits.

It has been in the interest of the Democratic Party to help Bush ruin America.

And Barack Obama's recent choice of Joe Biden as his running mate underscores this principle. Biden, champion of the Jim Crow War on Drugs (that aren't alcohol), eager supporter of the Iraq War from the very beginning, and supporter of the 2005 Bankruptcy Bill that made life harder for millions of debtors, exemplifies how committed to change Obama really is. That Biden will help Obama in northern Appalachia, make a great attack dog over the coming months, appeal to older voters, and protect the campaign from accusations that it is weak on experience and national security is beside the point. The choice of Biden demonstrates that Obama cares more about winning than governing. That is the fundamental problem with the Democratic Party today.

So as delegates descend on Denver, congratulating themselves between speeches in a four-day-long exaltation of empty rhetoric, I will abstain from embracing Barack Obama the way so many of my generation have already. He represents an improvement over a long line of fraudulent populists, and that might be reason enough to vote for him. But it isn't enough to replace my frustration with enthusiam.

Keith Houser, 26, describes himself as "a white suburban slacker from Bellevue with a knack for understanding belt-way intrigue and synthesizing global macro phenomena into a coherent world systems theory." He isn't affiliated with any political campaign.

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