I’m watching the American elections with interest this year, largely because the Republican Party seems to have embraced the whole Frank Burns rhetoric, thanks to the Tea Party. They chose the man who scared the least number of people during the primaries for their President, with a bone to the far right with his VP pick, but there really wasn’t a lot of excitement about Mitt Romney, the lead on the ticket. There was a lot of “see, Mitt’s not a bad guy” speeches, a lot of heckling toward Barack Obama, money being spent out of everyone’s butt and a bit of damage control to quell the cries of sexism directed at the party. A lot of people seemed to make a dry run for 2016, almost as if they themselves weren’t too confident about Romney’s chances in November. Paul Ryan gave a speech with so many untruths that if he were Pinocchio, his nose would have shot out and impaled a 100 people. Clint Eastwood rambled semi-coherently to an invisible and foul-mouthed Obama. Mitt Romney said a lot of stuff about how Obama failed despite everyone wanting him to succeed (another lie) and that if he were President, he would fix the economy with a plan (that he doesn’t have specifics on), stand up to America’s enemies, and make all of our wildest dreams come true. Oh, there were also a few dog-whistles for good measure, as well as an unfortunate incident involving peanuts being thrown at a black camerawomen. The convention at least brought a little more enthusiasm from the party toward their nominee, in the sense that they’ve gone from “*resigned sigh*, Mitt Romney for President” to “Mitt Romney for President…I guess”.
I know that Obama’s not going to change the mind of many Republicans, especially the ones that have been stoked into a frenzy of resentment and paranoia. If the economy completely recovered, there’s still enough voters that buy the lie that he’s a socialist anti-Christian who hates white people, apologizes for America, and is going to steal their guns. Obama better make his case to the people who left the choir, the ones on the fence, the ones who don’t use the phrase “lamestream media” as if they were some great wit. Mitt Romney and the Republican Party’s small victory this week has only given the Democratic Party an opportunity. My hope for the DNC is that Obama and his party seize the opportunity to be specific about their goals for the next four years. They’ll have to also discuss the effects of the Ryan budget in a way that doesn’t sink to the doomsaying hyperbole that the Republicans have been drumming up about Obama for the past few years. There are still a lot of people that do like Obama, though. They need to make sure they restoke the fires that brought people to the polls, especially in the face of the organizational and financial powerhouse of the right wing, as well as laws drafted under the guise of rooting out voter fraud (using a crane to crush a fly) but have been challenged for their disproportionate effects on the poor and elderly. Frankly, if Obama and the Dems wiff the easy pitches that Romney and the Republicans lobbed this week, I’ll be much more pessimistic about November than I am right now.
I really feel bad for a lot of people in the Republican Party. They’re caught between a candidate that they disagree with on principle, and a guy who pandered so hard to the loudest, most vengeful wing of the party that he’s willing to repudiate his main success in public office. A man who points to his success at Bain Capital as proof he’s the man for the job, despite the fact that a lot of Bain Capital’s financial success came from leveraged buyouts (borrow money to buy firm, get profits, firm gets debt and pays fee for Bain’s help with trying to skim the fat) and actually involved being bailed out by the US Government valve he is trying to shut off. (Everyone following the US Election should read the damning Rolling Stone cover story on Romney’s past at Bain). His private sector success is irrelevant; it only serves to obfuscate that his job creation record as governor was mediocre. Some say that Obama can’t run on his record, but I think there’s more for him to celebrate than Romney, which is telling. There are too many disconnects and deficits with Romney to really think he would be a strong president.
A conservative Twitter buddy of mine pointed out that he’s lacking in idealism, seemingly in the race more for himself than America. I think that’s accurate. I think the party could have done much, much better than Mitt Romney. He was the best of a bad lot of candidates (aside from maybe Huntsman), but his success in the primaries feels more like the result of his financial reserves, the other candidates’ liabilities, and being able to feed off of anti-incumbent sentiment than anything that resembled strong policy or forward thinking. While I disagree with the Republican Party on a lot of issues, I want to see them actually have a candidate with a vision that does justice to the party’s history, and that they finally stop exploiting the fear of the “other” in lieu of serious debate on the issues.
I may not be American, but what happens down there has an impact on what happens up here.