Four years ago, Barack Obama accepted the presidential nomination of a Democratic Party that was as unified and energized as at any moment in its past: Clintons and Kennedys, labor and Wall Street, centrists and leftists, old and young, blacks, whites and Hispanics. It bristled with the excitement of history and the expectations of a new era.
But Democrats are arriving here to nominate President Obamafor a second term in an atmosphere far removed from the Denver convention in 2008, driven by a different kind of urgency and with new questions about their party’s direction.
Their unity at this point is defined less by faith in Mr. Obama or a robust vision for what the party should stand for than by the prospect that Republicans could control the White House and Congress next year and enact a conservative agenda that would unravel much of what Democrats have stood for since Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society. Mitt Romney’s selection of Representative Paul D. Ryan as his running mate has only intensified the ideological fervor.