In the years I’ve lived in the Twin Cities, I’ve witnessed some pretty high-profile events: a Super Bowl and the visit of Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev. But nothing compares to the hype surrounding the upcoming Republican National Convention.
The official count is that 45,000 people – including 15,000 members of the media – will descend on St. Paul for the four-day convention Sept. 1-4. Those numbers don’t include thousands of protesters also expected to participate in marches and demonstrations.
What really caught my attention was the huge number of media representatives. What could they possibly cover? How many different ways can one report on John McCain’s acceptance speech or President Bush’s more-than-likely brief and low-profile appearance?
Of course Minnesota can always provide colorful fodder for members of the media from other regions of the country. We’ve got Garrison Keillor and F. Scott Fitzgerald, ice-fishing, hockey and curling. We’re the birthplace of Prince and Bob Dylan.
Expect articles comparing Minnesotans to the residents of the mythical Lake Wobegon and references to the many Paul Bunyan statues scattered around the state.
All of which might make Americans forget that serious business will be taking place in the Xcel Center during those four days. A party platform will be adopted; candidates will speak about their vision for the nation.
Knowing 15,000 members of the media will be swarming this event, I will be listening and watching for the real stories – the ones that resonate with the lives of working people.
Stories like this:
• What do the Republicans plan to do to stem the flow of jobs out of the United States and the stream of people forced to come here by unfair trade? What do they plan to do to create a just and fair global economy?
• When do the Republicans plan to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – so working people, the children of working people – and their grandparents – can stop fighting and come home?
• How do the Republicans plan to fix our broken economy, end the foreclosure crisis, stop the drunken behavior of Wall Street (Bush’s own words) and create an economy that works for working people? (And no, tax breaks for the wealthy don’t constitute a plan).
• When will the Republicans do something about a health care “system” that leaves 50 million without coverage, millions more underinsured and many, many people just one illness away from financial disaster?
• And why do the Republicans – advocates of the free market – never propose unions as the best way to raise living standards and build the middle class? Unlike much of Corporate America, unions don’t get tax breaks and they’re not dependent on government handouts. At their best, they function as highly democratic, proudly independent organizations. (Maybe I just answered my own question).
Anyhow, I figure 15,000 TV anchors, reporters, producers, newspaper scribes, photographers, videographers, radio announcers and the like ought to be able to ferret out the true stories behind all these questions.
OK – if you believe that, I’ve got a bridge over in Minneapolis I can sell ya.
Barb Kucera edits www.workdayminnesota.org, a website of workplace news and resources sponsored by labor organizations.