Friday, August 31, 2012

The Republican National Convention – Third Day

First, I don’t want any readers to think that I’ve not been aware of the ravages of Hurricane Isaac. My heart, thoughts and prayers go out to those folks in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, especially, but also anyone else impacted by Isaac. I know a fellow nomad (in preparation) who lives in a studio apartment in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida near the beach. He felt the impact of Isaac a few days before the main part of the storm made its way up the Gulf of Mexico and made landfall on Tuesday evening. Bill had a large tree limb fall on his one story apartment and crack the roof. So far, there has been no leaking. This was a huge storm and Bill experienced some of the outer bands of the storm that were several hundred miles from the actual eye. It was a big positive to know that the work on the levees around New Orleans did their job as they were supposed to. Unfortunately, since the waters didn’t do serious damage within New Orleans, they flooded other areas that weren’t as hard hit by Katrina seven years ago. My thoughts and prayers are with all those who have lost their homes, possessions and the hundreds of thousands without power, sanitary facilities, food, water, clothes and air conditioning during the extreme heat and humidity.

Now, let’s move on to the third day of the Republican National Convention. Basically, it was more of the same except for the anticipation of the nomination acceptance speech by the Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney.

I didn’t catch a lot of the presentations by the more “average” Americans who gave testimony and endorsed Romney earlier in the evening. But, I’ve heard commentary that they were very effective and could have been used during other parts of the convention. Maybe that would have made sense. I did hear Jane Edmonds, former Massachusetts Secretary for Workforce Development under Romney. And, I saw the line up of Olympic champions who were endorsing Mr. Romney and heard their short presentations. I missed Jeb Bush, the Gingriches and several others. I did watch Clint Eastwood’s presentation. What can I say? He’s Clint Eastwood. I wasn’t overly impressed by his manner of handling his time, but I guess he got a point or two across.

Then came Marco Rubio. There is no question that he is an up and comer. He was poised, well spoken and, like the others before him, a strong speaker. I think he made some excellent points. I guess there was an underlying theme I caught throughout the convention of appealing to the average American, white and poor, lower middle and middle class individuals. The appeal continued to the minorities, especially the Black and Hispanic segments. And, there was a very strong appeal to women who represent slightly more then half of the U.S. population. There was also an appeal to the upcoming, younger generation. While time was spent talking about the senior segment of the population, I don’t think I felt the appeal was as strong as the others. I don’t think the seniors were neglected or written off, but not as strong an appeal.

Finally, the moment everyone had been anticipating since the beginning of the RNC, the nomination acceptance speech by the presidential candidate, Mitt Romney. It was a good speech. It was strong and well presented. It definitely opened Mr. Romney’s humanity, family values, business ethics, commitment to serving others as well as other qualities to public view. Many people don’t realize that Mitt Romney’s success in business has allowed him to contribute decades of his time without compensation to his church, always non-paid, the 2002 Olympics when he contributed the $1.4 million salary he received to charity and his four years serving the citizens of Massachusetts as their governor (as did Lt. Gov. Kerry Healy).

He did two things that allowed him to accumulate wealth. He learned to work smart and to work hard. Add on the other human qualities he has exhibited over the years, including humility and not boasting about his accomplishments for his own benefit and he does come off, at least in my eyes, as a very admirable man. Unfortunately, I believe he’s given credit for being far wealthier then he actually is. His estimated wealth is about $250 million. He is also an enigma to many people because, unlike people such as Bill Gates, the wealthiest man in the world for several years with wealth exceeding $50 billion, Steve Jobs (also a billionaire) and others like them, Romney maintains a generally low profile.

I would imagine that if Sam Walton or Warren Buffet, both the wealthiest men in the world at some point in time and both worth upwards of $25 billion, were to run for office, they, too would be ostracized by those who don’t understand them. Both of them were wealthier then Mitt Romney by 100 to 200 times. Certainly, he is in the top 1% of the population as far as personal wealth. But, as the old Smith Barney commercial by John Housemen used to say, “They make money the old fashioned way. They earn it.” And that’s true of all the people I mentioned including Mitt Romney. A number of years ago there was a book written titled, “The Millionaire Next Door.” It indicated that there are thousands of millionaires in this country that no one knows about because they live right next door to them and maintain a low profile.

All that being said, between the Democratic National Committee and the liberal PAC’s and special interests’ attack adds, the public will still unlikely gain a clear picture of who Romney is. The challenge I see is that like many people in the public fishbowl, the jury of public opinion is judging Romney. Is he the right person to lead this country? How will he serve? Will he accept the $400,000.00 a year salary and a lot of the other perks or will he suggest that since the country is in such debt he can’t accept it? Will he, as Lee Iacocca did when he bailed out the Chrysler Corporation back in the 80’s, accept a $1.00 salary until he has accomplished the task of turning this country around? Who knows? There has been no such indication, but perhaps he’s going to hold that until he wins, if he wins. In other words he isn’t a grandstander. If he were to do this, would he propose that members of Congress, who can afford to serve without salary, do the same? How deep is his integrity? That’s a question I don’t know the answer to. Certainly, I know that the incumbent would not make such a concession even though he is personally responsible for at least a few billion dollars in expenses to the American taxpayers to date.

I can’t necessarily say I agree 100% with Romney and his platform, plans, policies and beliefs. But, I have to say that I also don’t agree 100% with the opposing party and the incumbent. I just took a short quiz on the Internet while researching to write this post. The quiz was designed to indicate which candidate I most closely align with. By a significant margin, I (once again) align most closely with the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson. Unfortunately, most of you readers have no idea who Gary Johnson is and, most likely, never will. The same can be said for the rest of the U.S. electorate. The Libertarian Party never gets any media coverage, even though as many as 35 to 45 percent of the electorate very closely relate to Libertarian philosophies. Accordingly, raising the kind of money necessary to compete in a present day presidential election when the candidate is not known and the party can’t get any media coverage is all but impossible.

One other note I want to make. The RNC showed an excellently produced, extremely powerful video biography about Mitt Romney before he spoke. I agree with several of the commentators who said this should have been shown much earlier in the convention. I think it needs to be aired several more times during the campaign process on a national basis. I believe there are a number of sound bites that can be extracted from it to help people, at least, get to know who Romney is.

Will I vote for Mitt Romney? The jury is still out on that question. But, as I sift through the rhetoric and BS, I’m hoping to uncover enough fact and truth to help me make an educated choice. I hope you approach the election the same way – IF you plan to vote. Please, don’t vote to invalidate my vote or anyone else’s. Don’t vote because you buy into all the negative media claptrap. If you’re going to vote, be a responsible voter. Learn all you can. Make educated decisions and when you go to the voting machine, do it with full-confidence that the person you vote for is someone you honestly feel you can live with for at least the next four years.    

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