The Writings of John Wenz

Philadelphia-based freelance writer for The Awl, Popular Mechanics, Mental Floss, Hear Nebraska and other publications.

You can reach me at john.wenz@gmail.com

Convention contest: 2012 Republican National Convention, 2012 Democratic National Convention, 1998 Highlander Convention

Recently at a thrift store I chanced upon an irresistable offer: for a mere 95 cents, I could take home a video set to summarize the 1998 convention of fans of the Highlander franchise. For those unfamiliar, the Highlander franchise is a movie and TV series involving a group of immortals who like to cut each others heads off to gain more power because “there can be only one” for some reason that I’m currently too lazy to research. This find was of a unique providence, as it coincided (roughly) with the opening of the Democratic National Convention, an event I didn’t watch because I get bored easily. This came a week after the Republican National Convention, an event I didn’t watch because I think gays and women are people. However, I did watch some liveblogs of both conventions, with reactions ranging from “Clint Eastwood has lost its shit” to “I want to mount Joe Biden.” But I did watch all of the Highlander convention video, aside from fast forwarding through the last seven minutes. Here are my comparisons between the three. Like the Highlander platitude, in the end, there can be only one. 

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Highest Profile Musical Artist:

  • RNC: Kid Rock
  • DNC: Mary J. Blige
  • Highlander: Roger Daltrey

Winner? DNC

Footage playing at festivals:

  • RNC: Crying eagles or some shit
  • DNC: America’s downtroden or some shit
  • Highlander: Beheadings

Winner? Highlander

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Celebrity Speakers:

  • RNC: Clint Eastwood talking to a chair
  • DNC: Kal Penn bro-fist pumping Joe Biden
  • Highlander: TV Series Star Adrian Paul

Winner? RNC, for entertainment value.

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Haircut era of attendees:

  • RNC: 1980
  • DNC: 2005
  • Highlander: Immortal(ly terrible)

Winner? Highlander

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Quotes on work ethic:

  • RNC: “America has a choice between Mitt Romney, who seeks to grow the economy, and Barack Obama who seeks to redistribute it. Which one do you think will liberate America’s entrepreneurial spirit?” - Sen. Rob Portman, (R-OH)
  • DNC: ”Of course, we need a lot more new jobs. But there are already more than 3 million jobs open and unfilled in America, mostly because the people who apply for them don’t yet have the required skills to do them. So even as we get Americans more jobs, we have to prepare more Americans for the new jobs that are actually going to be created. The old economy is not coming back. We’ve got to build a new one and educate people to do those jobs.” - Former President Bill Clinton
  • Highlander: "I wanted to be good. I don’t do anything half assed. I want to be good." - Actor Adrian Paul

Winner? DNC

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Attendees reason for coming:

  • RNC: Defeat Democrats, destroy safety net
  • DNC: Maintain White House
  • Highlander: “I think the Highlander movies, from the movies on through the series, has a lot to say to people. Especially to the fifth series final episodes, (which) speak to me spiritually.” 

Winner? Highlander

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High Profile Factions

  • RNC: Tea Party supporters, Ron Paul supporters, old white dudes
  • DNC: centrist Democratic Leadership council, people who look the other way with NAFTA support, progressives who are tolerating their drunk uncle of a party
  • Highlander: Something called “Clan McSlut” and something else called “Clan McNut”

Winner? DNC, despite the entertainment value provided by Ron Paul supporters

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High Profile People Skipping the Convention:

  • RNC: both Presidents Bush, former veep nominee Sarah Palin, embattled Representative Joe Walsh, pretty much any senate candidate in a toss-up seat
  • DNC: SenatorsClaire McCaskill and Jon Tester, every Democrat from West Virginia save Jay Rockefeller
  • Highlander: Christopher Lambert, Clancy Brown
Winner? Highlander
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Party-line crossers:
  • RNC: Artur Davis, former representative and gubernatorial candidate from Alabama
  • DNC: Former Florida governor and senate Candidate Charlie Crist
  • Highlander: N/t
Winner? Highlander
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Audience Composition: 
  • RNC: Angry white dudes
  • DNC: Really, really hopeful people
  • Highlander: Nerds
Winner? Draw
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Looking to the future, from the de facto leader

  • RNC: “f I am elected president of these United States I will work with all my energy and soul to restore that America, to lift our eyes to a better future.  That future is our destiny. That future is out there. It is waiting for us.  Our children deserve it.  Our nation depends on it.  The peace and freedom of the world require it.  And with your help we will deliver it. Let us the begin that future for America tonight.” - Mitt Romney
  • DNC: ” America, I never said this journey would be easy, and I won’t promise that now.  Yes, our path is harder, but it leads to a better place.  Yes our road is longer, but we travel it together.  We don’t turn back.  We leave no one behind.  We pull each other up.  We draw strength from our victories, and we learn from our mistakes, but we keep our eyes fixed on that  distant horizon, knowing that Providence is with us, and that we are surely blessed to be citizens of the greatest nation on Earth.” - President Barack Obama 
  • Highlander: "We always thought that - wouldn’t it be great when you went to the theater to see Highlander that immortals could be sitting next to you and you wouldn’t know it?” - producer Peter S. Davis

Winner? Highlander

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Approaches to healthcare:

  • RNC: “You would think that any president, whatever his party, would make job creation and nothing else his first order of economic business, but this president didn’t do that.  Instead, we got a long, divisive, all or nothing attempt to put the federal government in charge of health care. Obama Care comes to more than 2,000 pages of rules, mandates, taxes, fees and fines that have no place in a free country.” - Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan
  • DNC: “And under Obamacare, insurance companies can no longer discriminate against women. Before, some wouldn’t cover women’s most basic needs, like contraception and maternity care, but would still charge us up to 50 percent more than men—for a worse plan.  They said women who had C-sections or survived breast cancer or even domestic violence had “pre-existing conditions” and would deny them coverage. But this president made it illegal to discriminate against women and ended the practice of insurance companies charging women higher premiums than men for the same coverage. This president ensured women’s free access to preventive services like breast cancer screenings. Being a mother is no longer a liability, and being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition! That’s what change looks like.” - HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebellius
  • Highlander: "I enjoy the thought of immortality - what I could do for the world or what I could create or what would happen if I was immortal - would I be as good at it as Duncan is, or the other immortals?" - random convention goer

Winner? DNC

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Body count: 

  • RNC: None at convention, millions at wars
  • DNC: None at convention, many members supported wars under GOP
  • Highlander: 10,000, according to series villain Silas

Winner? RNC

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Level of Discourse:

  • RNC: According to this, Ann Romney’s speech was written at the educational level of a 5th grader
  • DNC: According to that same source, Michelle Obama’s speech was written at the educational level of a 12th grader
  • Highlander: According to a convention goer, “The discussions that take place on the newsgroup are often at the level of a graduate philosophy seminar. They dissect the motivations and the meaning of every episode, and almost every line in every episode.”

Winner? Highlander

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Speakers brought in by satellite: 

  • RNC: None
  • DNC: None
  • Highlander: Actress Elizabeth Gracen

Winner? Highlander

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On-stage swordfighting:

  • RNC: No, but a lot of dick wagging
  • DNC: No
  • Highlander: Oh yeah. 

Winner? Highlander

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Chief fundraisers:

  • RNC: Multi-billionaires
  • DNC: Sympathetic millionaires
  • Highlander: Prop motorcycle auctions

Winner? RNC

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Invocation: 

  • RNC: Cardinal Dolan
  • DNC: Cardinal Dolan
  • Highlander: producer David Abramowitz

Winner? Tie between RNC / DNC. I guess. I don’t think Dolan sung his prayer in awkward Latin, unlike Abramowitz. 

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Lingering questions:

  • RNC: How will presidential nominee overturn the healthcare law he himself implemented in Massachusetts, and what tact will he take in the general election, especially as he’s shown a willingness to change issue positions to win elections?
  • DNC: Will the president deliver on his political points during a second term, or will he pay lip service to his party’s base while continuing domestic and foreign policies created under his reviled predecessor? 
  • Highlander: “What would happen if you tried to kill an immortal and split them in half? Would they grow back together? It’s been bugging me.” - Convention goer Christine, no last name given

Winner? Highlander

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Final Point Tally: 

  • RNC: 4
  • DNC: 5
  • Highlander: 10

Winner? Highlander

Now if only we could get a comment from Nate Silver …