That unity ends at the convention doors.On the sidewalk outside the Charlotte Convention Center, protesters gather. They don’t agree with the Democrats and they don’t agree with each other.
Bob Kunst is wearing a blue T-shirt emblazoned with the word “Infidel.” Kunst is a Jewish registered Democrat. But President Obama? He calls him his enemy.
“Obama’s a traitor to Israel and to America,” Kunst says. “He wants to take my 5,000-year-old homeland – right in the Bible God gave it to us, reaffirmed by the League of Nations in 1920 – and give it to the very Arabs who aligned with Hitler and danced in the streets on 9/11.”
Since Obama announced his candidacy for president, Kunst has protested his policies on Israel. The DNC is his 554th demonstration since October 2007.
A few yards down on the same sidewalk, two men are wearing sackcloth. They’re displaying huge signs bearing photos of aborted fetuses and, they say, they’re trying to bring a crowd of Democrats to repentance.
“We need to give account to God for all this murder we’ve allowed to take place in America,” Alan Hoyle says into a microphone. “Now we’re paying with our tax money for this murder to take place in other countries.”
As Hoyle speaks, a young woman in business casual dress steps up.
“Okay, you know what?” she begins. And then an argument between the two kicks into gear, and they don’t find common ground.
Hoyle tells us later he’s not sure of the impact his words have on a crowd that’s inclined to disagree with him. But he is sure, he says, this is what God wants him to do.
“We’re saving babies every day,” he says.
Further down, a group of men and women in red shirts are advocating for a less familiar cause: they want statehood for their home, the District of Columbia.
“The people of the District of Columbia are treated unevenly,” one man says. “We have no votes for the Senate; we have no votes for the House of Representatives. And yet, we pay per capita more taxes than any other jurisdiction in the United States.”
Not everyone outside the convention center is in disagreement. Others are just showcasing something.
The guy in the “Proud Catholic Democrat” shirt is young. Curly hair, fresh face. And it’s the Democrats’ policies on healthcare and for the poor that put those three words on his shirt.
“I consider myself a Democrat because of Catholic social teaching,” he says.
This hasn’t been a tough crowd for him. But even for those whose views were met with more hostility, the rhythms are mostly the same.
Inside the walls of the convention center, all are in agreement. They cheer at the same things. Clap at the same things. Laugh at the same things.
Then outside, people are louder. More dissonant. Some of them sing. (There’s even an Obama-themed remix of the Cupid Shuffle.)
Those rhythms will likely continue in Charlotte throughout the week.