I wanted to feel good and excited now that the Republican National Convention is over. I wanted to be ready to run through doors to get this man elected. In 2008, Sarah Palin got me so excited that I couldn't wait to get going. Instead, I feel that this Convention as a bit of a letdown. It was heavy on personal stories, the jobs narrative, and attacks on President Obama; but I still don't know exactly what Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are going to do if they are elected. Conceptually, I can appreciate what they are talking about. He they still seem to be sticking to the GOP talking points that no longer work, meaning tax cuts and defense spending. Romney has talked about reforming the tax code, and his surrogates lead by Paul Ryan are a bit more enthralled by it. Yet questions remain. Romney's acceptance speech was nice, but I still am not any closer to truly understand what he will do. In specifics.
Now I know some people will see this and say, "shut up and get behind the ticket. Obama is worse." Sure. However, its no better for the country to elect another Big Government Republican over a Bigger Government Democrat. The floor fight on the first day of the Convention cast a pale of the entire proceedings for me. Whatever talk was given about constitutional, limited-government conservatism it was hard to believe given the naked power grab attempted in order to neuter grassroots activism at the state level. The Establishment, led by John Sununu, looked to use the "threat" of those evil Ron Paul supporters as an excuse not only to essentially run them out of the party but also to control the Tea Party. It was ghastly and will not be forgotten. No matter how hard everyone tried, this seemed to have poisoned the well before anyone got to take a drink.
Yet, the other interesting storyline of this convention was the marvelous new faces, diverse faces, that represented the party. The Republican Party as more women and minority governors than the Democratic Party, and that diversity came from the grassroots and the Tea Party. Our minority aren't running in districts federally mandated for them, candidates like Mia Love are running in places like Utah. The names that have emerged out of this convention from Love to Ted Cruz to Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Susana Martinez, Brian Sandoval, and Rand Paul were all elected since the last Convention. One wonders if the party had its way, would any of these names be elected Republicans?
So there is this tension in the party that was represented at this Convention. The new young blood shined, but the Old Guard's Mitt Romney was simply "workman-like." One almost wishes we could put this election off for two more years so someone like Rubio could be ready. In this manner, the RNC was a fitting end to our 2012 process. The conservatives and the grassroots understand that we have better than Romney and tried various ways to get better. Yet Romney endured. At the RNC, the conservative grassroots candidates shined, but Romney stood tall at the end as the nominee. His high-handed campaign that used its millions and its SuperPAC to scorch his opponents did the same thing on the Convention floor to the Ron Paul and Tea Party delegates still not sold on Romney.
I guess it went as well as it possibly good. The grassroots does not want Romney, but he won thanks to the Establishment and his money. He's doing all the right things now, and he picked a strong running-mate. However, hard feelings remain. The new faces spoke more about themselves than about Romney, as if they knew they were the future and it was their first chance to make a name for themselves.
Then there is the attack on the Ron Paul movement. Honestly, Ron Paul wasn't a threat to begin with. Why the didn't just allow Paul's name to be put into nomination, allow his supporters to demonstrate for him and see his name on the big board. Allow Paul to speak, say whatever he wanted. Romney was still the nominee and that would have allowed the RP supporters to have their moment and feel like they were respected. Instead, we have alienated a group of people that had entry into young voters and blue states where Romney could have picked up support. It was a sign of weakness that they looked to squash something that was never a threat. Now, a movement that resonates with young voters might be lost for this election. It was all so stupid.
Romney can win this election. He can. I will vote for him. But at what cost will it come? How far are Republicans willing to go just to defeat the President? This Convention did a good job telling Mitt Romney's personal story, showcasing a new a diverse party leadership, and attacking the President for his terrible handling of the economy. But I still don't know what Mitt Romney stands for and what he wants to do. Pat Buchanan puts it best:
The Republican Party of Richard Nixon was called to power in 1968 to bring an honorable end to the war in Vietnam and restore law and order to campuses and cities convulsed by crime, riots and racial violence. Nixon appeared to have succeeded and was rewarded with a 49-state landslide.
The Republican Party of Ronald Reagan was called to power in 1980 to restore America’s prosperity and military might and halt her stumbling retreat in the Cold War. He succeeded and was rewarded with a 49-state landslide in 1984.
Should Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan prevail, what would be the “large and definite purpose” for which they and their party had been called to power? Answer: Put America’s fiscal house in order and restore the prosperity the nation knew before the Great Recession.
Yet the only path consistent with party principle to achieve this goal is by imposing real pain upon an electorate that is less likely to reward Romney-Ryan with a 49-state landslide in 2016 than punish their party with a massacre of Republicans in 2014.
Are Romney-Ryan willing to do this?