Someone once told me a certain charter school in Utah forbids sharing among its students, instead rebuking young children who offer to share. Kids who express interest in something that belongs to someone else are told, “Get your own.”
Maybe this is where Mitt Romney came from.
The difference in tone between the Republican and the Democratic national conventions was incredibly stark. The values of one group echo my own childhood teachings: We look out for each other, we care for those who are struggling, we get by on a little less so that everyone has at least a bare minimum. We share. We are kind.
The other group says, ‘Get your own.’
The Democrats put their principles on display during their convention.
Cory Booker delivered this message to Mitt Romney and the rest of the super-rich who pay a lower percentage in taxes than regular folks: “When your country is in a costly war with our soldiers sacrificing abroad – and our nation is facing a debt crisis at home – being asked to pay your fair share isn’t class warfare, it’s patriotism.”
Rahm Emanuel asked, “Whose values do you want in the White House when a crisis lands like a thud on the President’s desk? A person who said, ‘Let Detroit go bankrupt’ or President Obama who said, ‘Not on my watch.’”
Michelle Obama said, “For Barack, success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.”
While Romney’s crowd seemed angry, fixated on money, and, frankly, more out of their league than I’ve ever seen Republicans appear before, the Democrats filled their convention with inspiring speakers and themes of compassion, teamwork, fairness, patience, sacrifice, equality, and humility. Oh, and gratitude and care for our soldiers, something that, incomprehensibly, Romney never even mentioned.
I don’t know how there can be a human being of any political persuasion who isn’t impressed by Michelle Obama. Her speech was extraordinary. She is extraordinary.
I didn’t think I could love a speech more than Michelle’s, but President Clinton’s speech was the high point for me. He spoke from a place very few can access, the lofty roost of a former president. I hung on his every word.
He didn’t talk down to America. He trusted our intelligence and our willingness to grapple with complex data. Clinton simply but explicitly led us through the facts of what we have been contending with for the past nearly four years. He delivered a straightforward and factual accounting of President Obama’s many successes, shedding light on all the ways we’re better off than we were four years ago.
By the time President Obama gave his speech, some of the pressure was off, thanks to the solid and significant contributions made by the other speakers. He did a great job. He couldn’t match the beauty and eloquence of his earlier speeches because we’re in a different place now, but I am so proud of him.
He acknowledged our hope has been tested by the cost of war, the economy, and political gridlock. But he said, “If you believe in a country where everyone gets a fair shot and everyone does their fair share and everyone plays by the same rules, then I need you to vote this November.”
He said, “If you turn away now, if you buy into the cynicism that the change we fought for isn’t possible, well, change will not happen.”
Then he warned, “If you give up on the idea that your voice can make a difference, then other voices will fill the void. . .”
That is a scary, scary truth.
Barb Guy is a regular contributor to these pages.