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UNITED STATES: Republican Convention--250,000 (?!) Balloons

Blasco Ibanez' novel The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse opens with a scene in which a character peels a handsome apple and reveals that the inside is rotten. This was a symbol of la belle epoque, the period when Paris, the "city of light" (electricity), dazzled and attracted many Spanish artists and intellectual who adopted one or more of the silly then-fashionable -isms. All this mindlessness ended in World War I.

The 250,000 (the figure quoted!) balloons which dazzled those attending the close of the Republican convention remind me of that apple. Their content was just gas. I have a gut feeling that our proud and pleasure-seeking civilization is going to collapse in disaster. I hope I am wrong, but who knows?

The Convention was characterized by sound-bites which dismissed complex issues with a slogan, met with roars of applause. There were references to the Founding Fathers who met in Philadelphia, and candidate Bush wowed the crowd when he said his first names, George W, reminded people of Washington.

If in fact the Founding Fathers had attended the convention they would have been appalled. They would have thought that the feverish partisanship justified Washington's warning against factions.Their well-honed, thoughtful speeches were replaced with shouts like those at a football rally. In print, they appear to be the ejaculations of illiterates. The Democratic Convention will be no better. They both are like the rallies supporting Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. All these crowds, like football rallies, are marked by battle cries like Stanford's "Beat Cal!" They are unworthy of a society which grew out of the ideas and eloquence of the eighteenth century. I attribute this decline from grace to Andrew Jackson, but that is a long story.

You may have gathered that I don't like crowds, especially noisy ones. I look forward to the time when these conventions will be studied as a historical curiosity.

Ronald Hilton - 8/04/00