It was not that long ago that people said the differences between Republicans and Democrats were negligible. But after watching both conventions these past weeks, it is clear that this dichotomy is no longer true.

The Democratic Party spent a week in Denver offering solutions to the nation’s problems and hope for a better future. Last night, the Republicans concluded a week in Minneapolis by spewing fear and offering nothing but obfuscation and outright lies. With 60 days left until the most important election of the new century, it is remarkable to observe the contrast between the two parties.

Somewhere in the first Bush term there was a brief moment when I admired the Republicans. At that point in time, they had figured out how to win elections, and even appeared to have some idea how to govern. But then the cracks began to show and Karl Rove no longer seemed to be another evil genius.At their apex of power, with all levers of government at their command and the ability to seamlessly implement their platform, the Republicans failed.

On both domestic and foreign fronts, the American people have rejected the policies of the Republican Party. The failure of their domestic agenda is embodied in the failure to privatize Social Security. As for foreign policy, four simple letters are all you need to know – I-R-A-Q.

So now, how does the party move forward? The answer: they don’t.

In an election where it is overwhelmingly clear that the country is one a failed course what do the Republicans offer? Fear. What is Sarah Palin’s main objection to Barack Obama’s position on Iraq? That he didn’t use the word victory in a speech about it.

If Governor Palin had espoused any of her own views on Iraq, we could have a real debate on the two positions. But she didn’t. If Governor Palin had offered any positions on any issues we could debate them. But she hasn’t.

Instead, she belittled Senator Obama’s life and work experiences while glorifying her own. She was on the PTA, she was a mayor of a town with a population of 7,025 people and she is a proud mother. Those are all great qualities, but they do not guarantee her her the qualification to be president. Her speech revealed the truth behind her selection. It was a cynical move by a cynical politician belonging to a cynical party.

The Democratic Party offers a different path. On the issues that matter to Americans — the economy, healthcare, energy and education — the Democrats offer change. The last eight years have left us weaker at home and ridiculed abroad. The Democratic message is: we know what’s wrong, and if you give us the chance, we know how to fix it

I am told there is a culture war going on in America right now, but the war I see is between two political parties with near opposing views on where the country is and where it should be. The optimism and hopefulness of America is what sets us apart from the rest of the world; the Democratic Party understands this — and that’s why the Democrats will win.

So, to Governor Palin I say: Victory!