When New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez shared an anecdote about a lunch date with a pair of crusading Republicans—in which she endured a voyage of self-discovery—she followed up with the revelation, “I’ll be damned. We’re Republicans!”
Governor Martinez was one of an array of inspirational speakers at the just-concluded Republican National Convention in which Mitt Romney was formally installed as the party’s presidential candidate. The convention was a barnburner. It was pretty clear the central theme was making the case for the exceptional nature of the American national union.
Apparently, convention strategy was to portray Americans as self-reliant, family-oriented, faith-based, inclusive, generous entrepreneurial types who perhaps differ only in their taste for music (i.e. from AC/DC to elevator noise).
Most speeches made some reference to individual initiative and the challenges of individual lives within a family environment. Condoleezza Rice made a moving tribute to her parents, who instilled in her as a child the idea that even in the face of ostracism in the segregationist South she could legitimately aspire to the highest levels of achievement in America.
Mitt Romney spent some time talking about the role of religion in his life and in the lives of many Americans as a way of addressing the Mormon elephant in the hall. His own experience in building Bain Capital was there in sufficient detail to draw sharp contrast to the career of the charming yet ineffectual incumbent in the White House.
Others testified to the sensitive nature of Mr. Romney, who has been so negatively portrayed by the Democrats. In fact, the overall tone of the event was positive. Policy criticisms of the Obama administration were preferred over ad hominem attacks on the president.
The Obama team did what it could to steal some thunder from the media-soaked coverage. The Democrats’ turn to impress comes in a few more days but for now they have to settle for the president’s pronouncement that Romney and Ryan have presented a “stark” choice for American voters. He didn’t mean that in a good way, I’m sure.
However, “stark” means also “austere,” “without excess” and “uncompromising.” Frankly, it is time for Americans to face their economic and political challenges like adults. Spending borrowed money for consumption and prolonging the orgy by inflating the money supply cannot be sustained by a populist appeal to the parasitic largesse of the welfare state.
It takes confidence in one’s convictions to be austere enough in this context to tell it like it is. “It takes an American,” as Mitt Romney might say. It’s an American problem created by Americans, at least as far as the limits of nationalism can be extended. It remains to be seen whether Americans will wake up on the morning of 7 November to declare unabashedly, “I’ll be damned. We’re Americans!”
©Copyright 2012 Edward Podritske