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Screen Scene: Gay political pundit Jim Morrison fired up about the DNC, political messaging

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Jim Morrison is fired up again, and this time he’s at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

The Here Network’s “For And Against” host and political pundit shared an insider’s perspective on the importance of political conventions.

“Even if I was just here as a fly on the wall, it would be a dream to come to a political convention of any party. I wanted to go to the Republican convention, but they weren’t interested in giving out credentials to the host of a liberal television show. Go figure, right?” he said.

“I would have love to attended (the RNC) and walked around and asked people why no one says anything about LGBT issues on the convention floor, or in any speeches whatsoever, unless it’s to say, ‘I’m Mitt Romney and I have a real marriage or so and so is a defender of marriage.’ Unless it’s to disparage, you won’t hear a word out of those people.”

Morrison continued unabated.

“By contradistinction, I just walked out of the LGBT caucus, and for the record I’m not a big Democratic Party booster all the time, but you know what? There were 534 delegates! LGBT delegates! 15 transgender delegates!” Morrison said.

“These aren’t just people hanging out and watching the convention. These are actual delegates. At least the DNC is representing the face of America, and that face includes LGBT people.”

When asked if he thought that reaching out to the community would pay off at the polls, Morrison responded positively.

“I do, I absolutely do,” he said. “A lot of people say that this is our year and that for once maybe we’re not being completely taken for granted. For sure, President Obama coming out and completing his so-called evolution in being in favor of marriage equality helps.”

History will be made if an American President, in seeking a second term in office, touches the third rail of politics, the nuclear, the apocalyptic, the Godzilla of political third rails: the LGBT community and that community’s constitutional rights.

“I don’t know that you’ll hear the President mention LBGT people, but I’ll bet he does,” Morrison said. “That’s just a guess, but I can tell you for absolutely sure that you are going to hear the words gay, lesbian and transgender come from the podium of this convention.”

“As the radical queer, I sometimes end up getting into rants on my show, because I for one sometimes think we go too far and assimilate too much when we only fight for marriage equality. But at the same time, sometimes it’s good to be out on the streets marching. But, it’s pretty damned cool that we’re inside this time,” he said.

There’s been a lot of discussion about the DNC choice of host cities, Charlotte, and host state, North Carolina. Anti-union and a “right to work” state, North Carolina may not be the heart of Dixie, but it’s not far. Many Northern progressives and the political base of the President took issue with the decision.

“I’ve been asking people about that,” Morrison said. “I think it’s politics because the Democrats want North Carolina. Barack Obama won North Carolina in 2008 and it’s probably going to be a little harder for him this year because we’re probably not going to see the same level of enthusiasm and turn out. He needs a Southern state.”

“I didn’t want it to be here though,” Morrison said, “especially after Amendment 1 passed.”

Amendment 1 was a ballot initiative in North Carolina, passed on May 8, 2012. The amendment proposed to change the state constitution to limit the types of domestic unions to heterosexual only. The voters of North Carolina overwhelmingly approved the amendment, 61.05% to 38.95%.

At the end of the day, the winners and losers in life and politics are determined by messaging. Whoever gets the message out first and most effectively, and whoever can ignite the hopes and fears of voters with the greatest skill, will win the election.

Messaging has been a consistent concern with this President. While Obama is clearly a gifted and inspirational orator, his first term demonstrated a pronounced deficit in stating the important messages of accomplishment. Often, the President failed to explain in clear, understandable terms, the benefits of what he’d accomplished in his first term in office. Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, would be a prime example.

Yet in his defense, the President has been forced to out shout a noisy and vocal opposition. The Tea Party has been tremendously effective in getting its message heard.

“We could have had a Tea Party,” Morrison speculated. “Our side, the progressives, the left, whatever you want to call us. At base (the Tea Party) aside from the crazies, consists of a lot of regular Americans who saw their relative salaries decrease over the last 10 – 15 years. They’re working harder, working two jobs to feed their families. They’re working harder and seeing less for it. Their property taxes went up, a tax that disproportionately hurt the lower incomes, and they’re frustrated.”

“So what happened is these rightly disgruntled people who actually were affected by the tax policies of the Republicans of the past eight years: What happened to those people who saw their lives get marginally worse? What answers did they get? What response did they get? They didn’t get a response from the progressives, that this is the result of tax policies and wars that were put on a credit card. They got Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh telling them that it’s immigrants and big government that’s taking their jobs … and women’s uteruses,” Morrison said, laughing.

The latter was the contribution of a bystander, listening to this interview.

“The more that people hear these answers, the more that people who don’t have time to think about politics or philosophy all day, the more they hear that one answer from the Glen Beck’s of the world, then the more they think,”

“Yeah, it was the immigrants and big government who took my job.”

“So then we lose,” Morrison concluded. “We lose, because we didn’t message the truth. That’s what happened with the Tea Party.”

It could be argued that the progressive wing hasn’t messaged the truth as quickly, as collectively and as loudly as the conservative wing of American politics. That tendency could be part and parcel of the definition of what it means to be a liberal, but that’s another discussion.

It could also be argued that truth is in the eye of the beholder. But, what can’t be argued is that most people don’t really have an open mind, no matter how much they’d like to think otherwise.

We spend much of our news gathering energy seeking others who support our own opinion. The likelihood of shifting those opinions, and attitudes of people deeply invested in their own, personal belief systems, is daunting.

Yet, political conventions are an opportunity. They’re an opportunity to glimpse nuance and subtle implication. It’s a chance to read between the lines to the true message.

Most minds are made up. The truly undecided “swing” voter is rare as Yetis and just as hard to document. Yet, unlike Yetis, we know that undecided voters actually exist.

Thanks to Morrison and every other journalist for the opportunity to ferret out and “message” the truly undecided. Every indication is, the undecided will decide this presidential election.

Kurt Niece writes about visual arts for SDGLN. He is a freelance journalist from Tucson, Ariz., who will be soon relocating to Lakewood, Ohio. He is the author of "The Breath of Rapture" and an artist who sells his work on his website.