Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Republican National Convention – First Day

I am basically apolitical. By that I mean I am not affiliated with any recognized political party. I don’t automatically agree with or accept the philosophical ideologies or platform planks of the parties, especially the Republican or Democratic parties. I do not support politicians with campaign contributions. And I, basically, accept that as a civilized society we must have some form of governance, but in it’s current operations, the governments at most levels are out of touch with their constituents, “We the People.” I also accept that living by my philosophy of living free means I’m not likely to ever have a representative who can truly represent my personal interests. In other words, for someone like me, it almost doesn’t matter who is elected to the various offices, virtually none of them will ever represent me.

So, with that being said, why am I watching or even remotely interested in the national conventions? Why do I even bother to vote? Philosophically, voting, to me, means selecting the “evil of two lessers.” In other words, while I hear a lot of rhetoric and pandering to the voters, I realize that those elected to public office are beholding to (I’m being kind, I wanted to say “owned by”) a number of special interests that raised large amounts of money for the candidates to wage their campaigns. They really aren’t serving us, “We the People,” unless indirectly we are gaining specific direct or indirect benefits from these special interests. One could argue that in our country it’s impossible to not be impacted positively or negatively by all these special interests. I’d have to agree.

Back to the question of why I vote. I’m actually not sure. While everyone says that every vote counts, I personally know of at least (and this is without even thinking about it) a half dozen other voters will invalidate my vote. Then we could use the old lottery slogan, “You have to play to win.” But, since I don’t personally see that I will win regardless of who wins the election, it strengthens my point. So, I use the lame reason that it preserves my “bitching rights.” I don’t have the right to bitch if I didn’t participate in the process. Actually, bitching is just a waste of energy and creates air pollution and contributes to global climate change, plus, nothing changes so there’s no percentage in it anyway,

So, do I really even care? Of course I do. Unfortunately, I agree with some of the Republican positions, some of the Democratic positions and some of the smaller shadow parties (shadow simply meaning they are lost in the shadows of the two major parties). So, like the pioneers who risked crossing the oceans and then the mountains and the plains to seek out the life and freedom they dreamed of, I have to be responsible to and for myself. Along the way, I’ll reach out and assist others seeking the same freedom to pursue and live their dreams and be happy and fulfilled, whatever that means to them.

Back to the RNC. What did I see and hear. Going in, I am neither a fan of the incumbent president nor was I a fan of the presumptive challenger and now, official Republican candidate. The convention appears to be much like past conventions. It’s a giant party and pep rally to celebrate finally settling on a candidate for president and a running mate. It’s a big kick-off into the actual, official campaign. (What the heck is all the stuff that’s been going on for more then a year called?) It’s a time for LOTS of rhetoric, puffery and grandiose promises, most of which will never come to pass and if they do, not in the manner they were presented. It’s a good thing Hurricane Isaac pretty much bypassed Tampa, the site of the RNC because there is enough hot air and wind being generated at the convention center to dwarf that of the Category 1 hurricane.

In general, I was impressed by the quality of the speeches and the delivery styles of the various speakers. It was interesting to see the diversity between women like Senator Kelly Ayotte and Governor Nikki Haley, the African-American, former Democratic House member and Obama supporter turned Republican, Artur Davis, Governors Scott Walker and John Kasich and the Texas candidate for a Senate seat, Ted Cruz, to mention those I heard. All of these folks are the rising stars in the Republican Party and they represent white, Middle America, women, African-American and Hispanic parts of our population.

Okay, I have to put this in context. They were selected because of their abilities to relate to the public and their presentation skills, some not quite as strong as others, but all strong, just the same. As someone who has done my own share of speaking to diverse audiences and as a former long-time member of the National Speakers Association, I understand the techniques they used. Some of my friends are some of the finest and most polished professional speakers in the world. I’ve witnessed the best of the best during my lifetime. So, I know precisely what I was watching. Yet, I was still impressed. And, to be honest, I expect to be impressed next week when I watch the Democrats expound on the virtues of their party and candidates.

Governor Chris Christie from my home state of New Jersey (yep, if you didn’t know or remember, I’m a Jersey Boy – Exit 153 and 154), did a very nice job of painting a picture, yet, he was very restrained. Capable of being extremely bombastic and pulling no punches (not untypical of Jerseyites), he didn’t blast the incumbent president and competitor in this election. But, he made his point of the failings of the leadership and issues that contributed to no one playing nice with each other inside the Washington elected government establishment. I believe everyone was expecting him to drop a nuke on the president and the Democrats in Congress. I still believe he had a strong message.

But, in my eyes, the winner last night was Ann Romney. She obviously prepared for that speech. None of the speakers went up there and spoke entirely extemporaneously of course. Every word was calculated. But, Anne Romney came across as very real and exhibited appropriate amounts of shyness, humbleness and yet, confidence, grace and class. I can’t say I’ve followed the First Ladies that closely over my lifetime, but I’d have to say that, should she become the next First Lady, much like Nancy Reagan, she will be one class act. She gave me some insights into her husband that I didn’t have before. I have not been a fan of Mitt Romney, but after her speech I softened my position on him. Her line about him not talking about all the things he does for others because he considers it a privilege to have that opportunity, not political talking points, was very powerful to me and I relate very strongly with that attitude. I truly felt like Mitt Romney might actually be seeking the presidency because he truly wants to serve and help everyone in the country. He served his church without compensation. He served and fixed the Salt Lake City Olympic games without compensation. He served as the governor of Massachusetts for four years without accepting compensation. He doesn’t need the income paid to the President of the United States now or in the future. If he were to indicate that he’d serve as President of the United States without compensation for four or eight years and maintain a modest lifestyle eliminating a lot of the trappings of the position and paying for his own and his family’s indulgences, he would virtually have my vote in an instant. I still may not see him as my most favorite person as an individual, but then, I don’t know him personally (and probably never will). But, who knows? I might really like him if I had the chance to get to know him. I do know that I don’t relate to the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue – and that has nothing to do with his race, color, religion or anything else.

So, that’s my take on the first day of the RNC. I’ll attempt to watch as much of the rest of it as I can. I’ll attempt to do the same with the DNC next week. Unfortunately, while I do hear the kind of rhetoric the general population wants to hear and the promises they are looking for, I don’t believe if the incumbent is reelected or if the Romney-Ryan ticket take the race that much will actually change. I don’t think we’ll feel any freer or that conditions will improve markedly over the next four to eight years. But, then again, I’d love to be proved wrong. So, only time will tell.  

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