Race, Class and Gender at the DNC, part 1.
On Michelle, the South Side girl.
I’m not sure whether this is what I happen to be thinking, or if this is my recognizing some very insistent messaging packaged by the DNC machine(s), but I walk away from Michelle Obama's speech at the Democratic National Convention thinking that her remarks were intended to herald the novel possibility of a “girl” raised in a blue-collar family on the South Side of Chicago becoming the First Lady of the United States, a notion that stands to gain the Obama campign the allegiance and admiration of women of all races. I mean, don't Americans love those rags-to-riches, triumph-over-adversity, underdog wins tales?
Further, Michelle's willingness to speak publicly and passionately about her upbringing, her own credentials and (less directly) her love/hate relationship with the American political system signifies that Barack doesn’t need Hillary as a running mate in order to be accountable to women’s issues (or, for that matter, to the working-class). We might say that Michelle is [being] positioned to represent a sizeable portion of her husband's political conscience and to assure all of us who happen to share her identity categories that our priorities will not only be taken seriously, but will be housed in the safest place possible -- close to the future President's heart.
As such, Barack's [staged] public doting on his wife also serves to assure the voting public that his responsibility to her in and of itself constitutes an intimate committment to the rights of women and the working-class. This is of no small significance given recent discussions about Obama
1. being elitist and disconnected from the daily lives of the working class
2. losing hoardes of women voters as a result of the Clinton defeat
Is it true? Are Michelle's "South Side" origins and her committment to giving back to working-class communities weighty enough to counterbalance the Obama family's undeniable indebtedness to networks of power and privilege? Only time will tell. What can safely assume, however, is that the message we received last night was an intentional one -- shrink-wrapped and pre-packaged by those ever-clever, invisible campaign brains.
I, for one, am not mad at 'em.