That this recitation of conventional phrases about what a nice person someone is passes for democracy is a travesty, and a disgrace to the philosophical and literary giants who founded this country. It is a far cry from the British party conferences I'm used to watching, which dabate policies and make real decisions. The Labour Party Conference is probably the scariest week of the year for Tony Blair - in the USA it's more like a teenage cheerleading camp.
Thus it was with more of a sense of duty than of hope that I listened to John Kerry this evening. But he surprised me. He talked about real issues, including the ones that make me, an immigrant, committed to America. The value of the Constitution. Being repected by the world, not just feared. Those who preach family values should value families. A system where a mother with breast cancer is working while undergoing chemotherapy because she's terrified of losing her job and her children's healthcare isn't a system that values families. A system where elderly couples scrimp on their medication, and the profit margins for drug companies grow and grow, is no way to honour thy father and mother. A nation should only ever go to war because it has to, and never without first making a plan for winning the peace.
For me, Kerry's reference to faith, which he does not wear on his sleeve, was particularly moving. "I don't want to claim that God is on our side. As Abraham Lincoln told us, I want to pray humbly that we are on God's side." To a lifelong Christian, there could be no more favourable contrast with the arrogant presumption that a vote for Bush is a vote for Jesus and the teachings "Be afraid, hate thine enemy and live by the sword!"
I don't think Kerry got full marks for body language, for fake smiles, for baby-hugging adorability and for all the plastic Hollywood rubbish that is supposed to count for more with many Americans than whether a president will do a truthful, intelligent and honorable job. But if he does become President then America will once again have a leader who will meet face to face with other international statesmen and women, to represent the world's most influential nation with the dignity it deserves.
You can read the speech