Tuesday marked the opening of the DNC convention in Charlotte, NC, and much like at last week’s RNC convention, the nominee’s wife took to the stage to act as her “husband’s character witness.” First Lady Michelle Obama delivered a touching speech filled with new remembrances of President Obama’s early years and struggles, his work that he undertook as a young man, and insight on how he has stayed the course even during difficult times in the White House. If humanizing a presidential nominee is the role of his wife, certainly the the steadfast stride of the First Lady met and exceeded this goal.
I identified with Michelle as her resolve would rise to explain not only the difficult policy decisions made in the Oval Office, but their adamant rule to make dinner time a family affair. I was reminded of her beauty and grace, and her obvious intelligence as she detailed not only the inner Barack Obama, but also policy reinforcements in the Democratic platform and even gentle rebuff to Conservative criticism in regard to wealth and success.
Did you know that I’m a Republican?
I am. A “big one.”
Are you surprised I’m not picking apart the holes in our disagreements? If that didn’t work, I could bring in personal attacks to tear apart our seeming agreement in favor of political points?
That is, after all, what political junkies do, yes?
There are two reasons to avoid such pitfalls. First, it’s right to follow the tone demonstrated by the First Lady. As I mentioned, she administered gentle rebuff to ideology in the Conservative party without going red-meat political. An example was when the First Lady choose to respond to Conservatives that condemn tax policy, arguing that laying more burden on the rich in turn hurts job development:
[Barack] believes that when you’ve worked hard and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you.
She seems to reinforce the liberal counter ideology that patriotism is defined by being responsible, through the giving of increased taxes, to the structure (government), that presented opportunity. Mrs. Obama also discussed policy initiatives such as gay marriage, women’s rights and abortion, and even welfare policy.
She was gentle in her criticism but illustrated a clear difference in our positions. This allows viewers to recognize contrast and begin a dialogue but without the normal posturing and prickly emotions. Women seem to know how to facilitate discussion by instinct and I appreciate responding in-kind to women who take the same high road. We all should.
Last Thursday, in contrast to today, I found myself reading my liberal friend’s review of Ann Romney’s speech in shock and dismay. Ann Romney did not discuss policy. She, in fact, offered a disclaimer in her early comments about merely and sincerely advocating the man she knew in private and in public – father, philanthropist and businessman. Yes, he ran a corporate for-profit but also saved the Olympics from ruin. He is more than the man some disagree with on policy initiatives and value choices.
Mrs. Romney’s speech was also about hard times, though she was questioned regarding the validity of her claims even though history tells the same story of struggle. Certainly neither the Romney family or the Obama family currently identify with high credit card debt and the threat of being laid off. And admittedly, perhaps the Mitt Romney clan knew they had a network of family to fall back on – but they didn’t fall back on help, they built their own wealth. They succeeded despite giving back every dollar of his governor’s salary and donating Mr. Romney’s inheritance to charity.
Did you see media report and personify these families that were saved by these acts of kindness?
Did you see policy wonks talking about how much that salary saved the Commonwealth of Massachusetts?
You saw even the community of moms outraged at being “pandered” to. You saw them declare hatred for her speech and tore apart every claim she made – claims about her own self-identity.
It was a tough pill to swallow. The din of criticism from the very community that engages daily in lifting up women, in discussing their unique role as mother – some turned their back for political points. The “new tone” was but a memory etched on a teleprompter hard drive once uttered by a sitting President.
We should all be looking to create a warmer tone if we are to be the women who can affect this generation of lawmakers and the tiny people that will fill those shoes in the future.
Read more of Molly’s writing about the intersection of parenting, politics and activism at PoliticalMommentary.com