The Democratic Convention: Alongside the balloons, an air of realism - The Democrats meet in New York this week to endorse the man they are coming to believe can oust George Bush from the White House

THE PREPOSTEROUS, exhilarating hoopla is wonderful for morale. But what matters at this Democratic convention is unity. Five times out of the last six, the Democrats failed to conquer the White House. Whatever the song says, happy days will not return in 1992 - unless Bill Clinton can show his country he has created a party in his own image, at peace with itself and at one with him.

There may be scant sign of it on the streets of New York. Gays, the homeless and women's rights groups will be demonstrating, Aids victims will be marching - the very pressure groups that remind God-fearing, suburban America of everything it does not like about the Democrats. And all this in the city the rest of the country loves to hate.

Inside Madison Square Garden, however, if all goes according to plan, it will be very different. On display will be the new model party that Mr Clinton has spent his political career attempting to build: faithful to its liberal heritage, yet reshaped to reach out to the middle classes whose desertion in the 1980s proved fatal.

Bill Clinton has prepared the ground assiduously. By nailing down the nomination so early, he has been able to pack every committee that matters with his supporters. Few Democratic nominees presumptive have gone to their ritual crowning with such control of the convention agenda. In theory, the risk of bruising public floor fights is minimal.

The 9,000-word platform is the gospel of Clintonism. From its talk of a 'New Covenant' between people and government, promised on the day he declared last October, to the warm words for business, its emphasis on wealth creation rather than wealth distribution, and insistence on personal responsibility, the document embodies the centrist 'Third Way' for which the Arkansas Governor has long argued.

It urges defence cuts, but not such as to jeopardise US military supremacy and its capacity to 'use force decisively where necessary'. Only in its unconditional support for abortion does the platform have a liberal ring. It will be mighty hard for the Republicans to use the 'L-word' as they did so devastatingly against Michael Dukakis four years ago.

But the keynote will be unity. Nominating Mr Clinton will be none other than a once-suspicious Mario Cuomo, guardian of the party's New Deal soul. A deal has been struck with Paul Tsongas, his most serious primary opponent, whereby the former Massachusetts Senator will speak tomorrow night. In return, Tsongas-backers on the drafting committee voted to prevent the former Governor of California, Jerry Brown, from presenting his ideas in a full-scale debate.

Technically, Mr Brown's name may yet be placed in nomination. In effect, however, he has received an ultimatum: endorse Mr Clinton, support the platform and release his 600-odd committed delegates - or resign himself to presenting his quirky notions outside the convention.

Which leaves Jesse Jackson, who will speak tomorrow and who has crossed swords bitterly with Mr Clinton. But the Jackson bluff has been called. No longer is he the sole voice of the black community, and his influence at this convention is far less than in 1984 and 1988. On Saturday Mr Jackson bowed to the inevitable and tepidly endorsed Mr Clinton, gaining nothing in return.

In 1992, the master of the game is the moderate Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) which Mr Clinton once led. Nothing could be more symbolic than the choice of the Tennessee Senator Al Gore as running mate. Mr Clinton could have chosen a black, a woman, a north-eastern liberal, to 'balance the ticket'. The balance he has gone for is a man of his generation, from the same part of the country, cut from similar ideological cloth, another prime mover within the DLC. The message is plain: this is a different party, that wants to win.

The strategy has its dangers: Mr Jackson is down but not out. In eschewing him, Mr Clinton could forfeit his formidable campaigning ability to get out the black vote, a core Democratic constituency essential in a presidential year. Nor has Mr Clinton the coalition-builder dispelled the impression his party is in thrall to lobbies, Political Action Committees and other big contributors.

But that is a small concern. Democrats sense the tide is turning their way. No party has a greater talent for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. But this time there is none of the giddy optimism of 1988 which caused defeat to be so painful. In 1992, alongside the hoopla, the balloons and the flagwaving, an unusual element is in the air: realism.

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

JavaScript Developer (Angular, Web Forms, HTML5, Ext JS,CSS3)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: JavaScript Dev...


£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice