By David Corn
Not too far from the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, a local art gallery is featuring an exhibit called "Divided State of America," but it's not necessary to trek to this space to contemplate the deep divisions within the nation. You need only spend a few nanoseconds at the Democratic presidential convention, after experiencing a week at the Republican gathering in Tampa, to realize you have left one reality for a much different one. And this goes far beyond policy positions and political stances. Here's a brief guide.
The people. It's rather obvious: Planet Democrat is inhabited by people of different colors; Planet Republican is monochromatic. This stark contrast has long existed and is not a surprise. (One recent poll showed Mitt Romney with zero—yes, zero—support among African Americans.) Yet shifting from Tampa to Charlotte is not unlike the moment in The Wizard of Oz when black-and-white gives way to the full spectrum. In Tampa, it seemed there were more black and Latino Americans on the stage than among the audience of thousands of white people. The streets of downtown Charlotte—which, for some reason, is called "uptown"—are overflowing with diversity.
And this extends beyond race. The thousands of delegates in Charlotte represent more income (or class) diversity. Sure, plenty of well-heeled Democratic donors, lobbyists, and supporters are strolling about, but there are many folks who look as if they are heading back to tough jobs when the convention is done: teachers, nurses, Teamsters, and the like. In Tampa, I conducted an experiment and asked several journalists to fill in this blank: "These Republican delegates look like they come from ________." The most common answer: "a country club." Another reply: "a gated community." [READ MORE]