Michelle’s dress looked really nice.
The Troubling Myths of Opportunity and Mobility in the Democratic Convention
By: David Dayen Wednesday September 5, 2012 9:40 am
That hasn’t been true for a while, I’m sad to say. American social mobility is among the lowest in the industrialized world. We like to tell ourselves these stories about rising from hardscrabble beginnings – indeed, it was the theme of BOTH the Republican and Democratic conventions – but there’s a selection bias involved. The people telling the stories can always reach back as far as they need in their history to find some poorer ancestor whose courage and confidence led to where they are today. The poor ancestors who had just as much courage, just as much confidence, but didn’t get the same breaks, whose progeny didn’t rise above a certain level regardless of their ability? They don’t get talked about because their descendants don’t have the microphone.
We have a drastically unequal society, and that makes it all the harder to the vast numbers who grow up in poverty and below the middle class to make it to the top. When you only hear from the strivers, it can sound differently, that new people and new faces can always have a chance to rise, if government just gives them the opportunity.
But that’s simply not how it works in America. The door has been slammed shut to those who don’t have the benefits bestowed on the rich and powerful. To some, it’s unseemly to say that, I guess. But it’s true; the economy has ceased to work to reinforce this myth of getting ahead through hard work and realizing potential. And what’s also true is that equality of opportunity is not enough. The meritocracy doesn’t even work this way; it pulls up the ladder rather than extending it down a rung.
I don’t think the speeches reflected that, not because America isn’t ready to hear the message, but because those who benefited from the current system cannot conceive of a different one.
5 – 6 p.m.
- Call to Order: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa
- Invocation: Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, 10th Episcopal District
- Presentation of Colors
- Pledge of Allegiance
- National Anthem: musician Branford Marsalis
- Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez of Illinois
- Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado
- John A. Pérez, speaker of the California State Assembly
- Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino
- Rep. Judy Chu of California
- Steve Westly, former state controller and CFO of California
- An Economy Built to Last video: Small Business
- Rep. John Larson of Connecticut
- Deputy Sheriff Ken Myers, Carroll County, Iowa
6 – 7 p.m.
- Richard Trumka, president, American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations
- Rep. Steve Israel of New York
- Sen. Patty Murray of Washington
- Pedro R. Pierluisi, non-voting member of U.S. House, resident commissioner of Puerto Rico
- An Economy Build to Last video: Energy
- Tom Steyer, co-founder of Advanced Energy Economy
- Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York
- Rep. Karen Bass of California
- Rep. Al Green of Texas
- Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II of Missouri
- Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy
7 – 8 p.m.
- Denise Juneau, superintendent of the Montana Office of Public Instruction
- House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California
- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
- Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland
- Education Secretary Arne Duncan
- Progress for People video: Education
- American Voices: Johanny Adames
- Former North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt
- Video: in memoriam
- Harvey B. Gantt, former mayor of Charlotte, N.C.
- Live performance: singer/songwriter Jessica Sanchez
8 – 9 p.m.
- Stronger Together video: Women’s Health
- American Voices: Elizabeth Ann “Libby” Bruce
- Cecile Richards, president, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
- Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland
- Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts
- American Heroes video: Veterans
- American Voices: Ed Meagher
- Gen. Eric Shinseki
- Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter
- Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper
- Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Roman Catholic Social Justice Organization, NETWORK
- Delaware Gov. Jack Markell
9 – 10 p.m.
- Karen Mills
- Progress for People video: Small Business
- American Voices: Bill Butcher
- California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris
- Stronger Together video: Immigration
- Benita Veliz, DREAM Act activist
- Cristina Saralegui, journalist, actress and talk show host
- Sandra Fluke, attorney and women’s rights activist
- Austin Ligon, co-founder and former CEO of CarMax Inc.
- An Economy Build to Last video: Auto Industry
- American Voices: Karen Eusanio
- UAW President Bob King
- Randy Johnson, Cindy Hewitt and David Foster: former employees at companies controlled by Romney’s Bain Capital
- Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland
10 – 11 p.m.
- Jim Sinegal, co-founder and former CEO of Costco
- Elizabeth Warren, candidate for Senate in Massachusetts
- Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, chair of the 2012 Democratic National Convention Committee
- Former President Bill Clinton
- Roll call vote: Alice Germond, secretary of the Democratic National Committee
- Benediction: Rabbi David Wolpe of Sinai Temple, Los Angeles
- Retire Colors
Because I’m such an incredible chauvinist I have to shout out my homes John Larson and Dannel Malloy from the Nutmeg State where we’ll sell you a piece of wood and call it nutmeg. Elizabeth Warren and Bill Clinton are the real entertainment.
They will be having the official Roll Call tonight and I’d be surprised at a single dissenting vote. They may or may not indulge in a round of passes to allow a selected State to put the delegate count over the top and end with a motion for unanimous acclamation which would be kind of old school.