Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Democratic National Convention – Day 1

It’s just as I expected. More power speakers. It seems like this year at this convention there are a couple themes. First, everyone rose up from the depths of poverty and despair, worked hard, nose to the grind stone, knowing that because my grandfather, grandmother, single mother, laborer father, whoever knew that one day I could be a Congressman, Congresswoman, mayor of the 7th largest city in the country, First Lady and Barack who dumpster dove for his first furniture and drove a rusted out old car that you could see outside through the rust holes – could be the President of the United States. Can we one up the Republicans? We’re certainly going to try.

I have to wonder about all those poor people watching out there who grew up the same way and were told similar things by their parents (if any of them ever actually were). How come they didn’t make it to Congress or the Senate or the White House or even the state legislatures or the governor’s office or the mayor’s office? And, geez, what about those people who are just working away at average jobs and occupations that were fortunate enough to grow up on the other side of the tracks? How come they didn’t make it to the big time? What happened to equality? What happened to opportunity that was constantly bantered about? How do Hispanic twins from the poor part of San Antonio, whose grandmother was a maid, housekeeper and babysitter and whose single mother was a schoolteacher BOTH get to attend Stanford University and then Harvard Law School? There are kids all of this country who qualify to go to those fine institutions who come from families of modest, but significantly better means then the Castro kids, but not even one of those kids can take advantage of that educational opportunity and equally or otherwise – let alone a pair of handsome, Latino twins.

But, I’m being picky now. I just find all the rags to riches stories a little hard to stomach after a certain point. And, I’m not just picking on he Democrats. There was a lot of that at the Republican convention, too. So, what’s the point? We got the breaks, but you didn’t, but we wish you had?

Now, I have to wonder how many of the populace and even the delegates sitting in the arena realize that those heartfelt speeches have been written, rewritten, tested for effectiveness and delivered in such a way as to make them seem like they are extemporaneous and heartfelt? I wonder how many of the electorate actually understand that the Castro boys and Michelle Obama have gone through intense training by very expensive professional speaking trainers and coaches. Every pause, question mark, gesture, chuckle or laugh, scowl and so on is virtually orchestrated for impact. Indeed, the intention is to come off like you’ve speaking mano a mano, one on one as if the speaker is addressing you individually. Yep! Republicans, too.

So, here are my impressions of last night. The two main speakers I caught were Julian Castro, the mayor of San Antonio, Texas, introduced by his twin brother, Joaquin Castro. Both look beautiful. Both are excellent speakers. How come the mayor was chosen to keynote the convention instead of the brother who is serving in the state legislature and running for Congress? What happened to equality? Oops! I digress. Julian’s speech was very good and he was very well prepared. And, as I suspected, he was essentially attacking the man (Romney) and not so much his political record.

There is a very significant ideological difference between the Democrats and the Republicans. The Republicans also talked about the American Dream, opportunity, equality and becoming successful, but their approach was that each person is responsible for themselves and needs to excel, overcome the challenges and do whatever it takes to make it to the top of the heap and claim his or her dreams. The Democrats seem to believe that people need the government to succeed. The government provides opportunities and pathways to success and if you follow the Pied Piper – in Castro’s case, Barack Obama, you’ll have the chance to better your life.

Sorry, I’m not ready to buy that, yet or ever for that matter. The very idea that every kid should have an opportunity for a great education that their parents want for them does not work for me. Heck! If Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Michael Dell had spent all their time in classrooms learning how to do things “the right way,” we would never have had a Microsoft, an Apple or a Dell Computers. None of them completed a college education. They saw opportunity and pounced on it. They made mistakes. They experienced failures. They had to learn by doing because no one had actually ever done what they were doing. Throw in a Mark Zuckerberg, another college drop out and the list goes on and on. There used to be an old saying that college graduates end up working for non-college graduates. I’m not sure how accurate that is currently, but at least in the four, very obvious, cases I just noted it’s certainly true.

So, let’s see, give all these kids college educations. Encumber the kids and their parents with tens of thousands or even more then a hundred thousand dollars of debt before they’ve even learned how to make their own breakfast, send them out in a world with an education in fields that have limited or no realistic career opportunities and what do we have. We have a generation of dependent people who will continue to live with and off their parents for who knows how long. And now, with the new healthcare law, they don’t even have to be responsible for their own health insurance as adults until after they turn 27 years old. Heck, by the time I was 27 years old I had completed a bachelors degree, a masters degree, most of four years of a military enlistment during a war time and was the president of an emerging media production company.

Again, I guess I digress. But, these are my reactions to what I was hearing last night. So, I was generally impressed with how pretty, educated, well spoken and coached the keynote speaker was. Unfortunately, he didn’t do anything to convince me that his (the Democratic ideology) road was the one I could buy into.

So, let’s move on to the First Lady’s speech. First, let me say this, the POTUS made a comment in the afternoon during a campaign appearance in Norfolk, Virginia about watching his wife’s speech at home (1600 Pennsylvania Avenue) with his daughters. He said he didn’t want them to see him cry during her speech. And he should feel that way. Michelle Obama, in my opinion is a better speaker then the POTUS, hands down. Whoever her speech trainer and coaches are did an excellent job with her.
She delivered it well. She used the teleprompters excellently – I doubt that anyone saw her using the prompter. She delivered it in a heartfelt, personal way, which, of course, was precisely her mission, as it was with Ann Romney.

Her introducer wasn’t some other slick politician, but a mom of five kids, four in the military and a fifth in high school, yet. That, of course, was part of the mission, relate to women, working women and especially moms. The introduction was short and sweet. I doubt that Michelle or any Democratic (or Republican, for that matter) politician or politician’s wife is all that “personal” with the vast majority of the constituency. For one thing, it’s hard for people to even get close to them since the POTUS and First Family are veiled in so much security. These folks are singled out for their political advantages.

I believe she met her objectives admirably, even getting in a few shots at the Romney-Ryan ticket. She wisely did not attack or even subtly dis Ann Romney or the Romney family. That would have been political suicide. For, those women and even those men who are supporters of Barack Obama, I believe she kept them in the fold. Certainly, everyone in the Arena last night were with her. As far as how much of the doubting and questioning, disillusioned women and men, especially those in the continually pounded number of 23 million unemployed and underemployed people in the country. I’m not sure she made a lot of in roads with them. There was, of course, no mention of the national debt, of the obvious areas of under performance, broken promises or failures.

Overall, the first night of the convention was pretty much what I expected. They talk around the issues. When commentators asked direct questions of any of the Democratic pundits they could corral, they were well versed in indirect answers, redirecting the topic or just plain didn’t answer the questions. While I don’t think I saw as much of this at the Republican convention, they are certainly adept at it as well. Hey, they’re all politicians; it’s what they do. I thought it was interesting that when Brian Ross of ABC News, one of the supposedly liberal media outlets, attempted to interview or ask any questions of the recognized deep pocket campaign funds contributors, they ran from him and even used police and uniformed security details to stop Ross, even threatening him with arrest. What is it that these powerful money sources don’t want the public to know about their support of the incumbent POTUS?

I’ll watch more of the circus tonight. So far, the Democratic Convention and their power speakers haven’t convinced me that the current POTUS has earned or deserves my one measly vote.   


Patrick said...

"There is a very significant ideological difference between the Democrats and the Republicans."

Good post, BUT. . .

I would argue there is very little ideological difference between the Democrats and the Republicans--only the rhetoric is different.

Case in point: Asset-stripper, Mitt Romney hates America just as much as Barack Obama.

Still Voting?

Ed Helvey - Professional Nomad said...

Ref the ideological differences, I have to agree with you. The conventions remind me of Amway rallies or vice-versa. I'm not a fan of either candidate. With a business background, I have a deeper understanding of people like Romney then I do of Obama.

Everyone in business makes choices. Some choices turn out wrong. Most people call them failures. Entrepreneurs call them lessons. Not every business succeeds.

12 years ago I published a book on banking about the first bank mega-merger. One of my least favorite banks was the prevailing party in that merger, Bank of America. The author was the CEO of the bank that was merged into BofA. His bank, a 125 year old institution, found itself in trouble and was failing. He inherited the problems that caused the collapse from the actions of a couple preceding CEO's. The Board of Directors and the stockholders brought him in to save the bank if he could or save as much of the stockholders' investment as possible (many were also employees). The result was that my author's bank disappeared. He saved as many jobs as he could, losing his own in the process. Ultimately, he was blamed and despised by several thousand employees who lost their jobs. Had the bank failed 100% of the employees would have lost their jobs.

I don't see Romney as an asset stripper, simply as an entrepreneur who earns his living investing in viable businesses and cutting his losses when he makes a mistake. Before there was just the Big 3 there were scads of other automakers in this country. They weren’t competitive, failed and faded into the dust. The list of failed businesses in lots of industries is long. Romney, Obama and the government weren’t responsible for their demise.

I don't believe Romney or Obama hate America. I think they each have very different visions (ideologies). They are manipulated by their parties. They take all the credit and glory for the good stuff and leave someone else holding the bag for the crap.

On another hand, ideologically, the two men are not that far apart. It's mainly about power. Neither Obama nor Romney need the measly $400,000/year salary. And while Romney's approximate net worth is around $250 million, he's certainly not part of the super rich. Mark Zuckerberg was already a billionaire by the time he was about 26 and JK Rowling is wealthier then the entire British monarchy for writing seven books.

People bitch about Romney not paying his taxes and moving funds to off shore banks. But, he's does it because the laws allow him to do so. We would be fools if we had that kind of money and didn’t effectively manage it. The law states it’s perfectly legal to avoid taxes. It's illegal to evade taxes. I don't think the public understands the difference because they've never been in the position to have that concern. That's also why so many people who win huge amounts in lotteries end up losing everything. They don't know how to manage the money - thus, any good that money might have done is lost by their ineptness. It's been this way throughout history. It's never going to change.

My major interest is in what the motivation is behind people who want to become the POTUS. What's in it for them? Do they really care if I'm rich, poor or in the middle class? It's not going to materially change their lives or lifestyles. In some manner, I believe anyone seeking such lofty positions is in it for ego, power and, quite likely, are a bit narcissistic and possibly sociopathic. They disguise these tendencies by doing their best to appear altruistic. Those who do not have these tendencies and motivations, typically don't last in the positions either by choice or they are driven out.

Your question - Still Voting? Currently, I plan to. The dilemma - who for?