Letter from America: Community, Faith, Family and Romney

2nd September, 2012 1:19 pm

By Hannah McFaull and Cristina Barron

A few nights ago, Willard Mitt Romney accepted the Republican nomination to be their candidate for President of the United States. His speech, which at only 35 minutes was short for such an occasion, told us a lot about the GOP fears and inner-party splits which could prevent him from having any credible shot at the White House.

Media coverage of the primary elections would have you believe that Romney and his Cadillac driving family were out of touch with the American people and that his politics were out of step with his party and the Tea Party movement. Coming to the convention only months after toeing the party line on abortion and same sex marriage, plus having advocated reform to the Massachusetts health care system that Obamacare was literally modelled on, he needed to unite and ignite his key supporters.

We don’t envy his speech writersone bit (nor do we believe he wrote it himself, as Twitter would have you believe). The task of uniting the party beyond those in the ballroom, whilst simultaneously not alienating anyone on the extreme ideological edges, is a thankless one. For what it’s worth we think they did a good job in doing this in the half hour we heard from the Governor.

There were some obvious speechwriting tools deployed in this aim as well. He hit the GOP history geeks’ pressure points when he asked “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” Word for word exactly what Reagan asked in 1980 a few days before the election against Jimmy Carter, invoking feelings of familiarity, comfort and historical context. Towards the end he employed a pantomimic call and response tactic, getting the delegates to boo in unison at mentions of Obama. These tools of the trade were evident to non-communications experts like us.

The Party needed a show of unity after the chaos of an eleven candidate primary election process. The role of the Convention in American politics is to unite the party behind a candidate of choosing, reignite the base and remind people of their socialized party loyalties. Political scientists advocating the Michigan model of vote choice tell us that the likelihood of anyone changing affiliation after watching such an event is rare, and this isn’t what they are designed for. They are to tell the American voters and the rest of the watching world a carefully constructed story.

From Marco Rubio’s introduction the scene was set. This story was about the one thing that unites both the fiscal conservatives who hold moderate views on social issues, and the extreme right of the party comprising the base of the GOP. It didn’t matter whose positions on gay marriage, gun control and freedom of religion you agreed with, the one thing all Republicans could agree on is the infringement of government into the lives of America’s families.

He said that what makes America, America is “Community, Faith and Family”. Government gets in the way of your relationship with God and your relationship with your family. The biggest cheer of the night from the crowd was when Romney spoke in opposition to Obamacare, which to many Republicans represents the ultimate infringement of individual rights by government.

The one part of the speech that had us wringing our hands and shouting at the TV was his careful mention of the position of women in Romney’s America, asking “why should women have any less say in decisions affecting the country?”. He went on to describe how the role his wife Ann played in their family was “harder than mine”, whilst seemingly on the verge of tears about it.

That’s all very well and good Mr. Romney, but when you and your party stop trying to remove the ability of women to make decisions about their own bodies and futures, then we’ll talk about the role of women in Romerica. He had to mention something about women, seeing as the Democrats definitely will next week and he didn’t want them to be able to say he’d said nothing. The Republicans continue to speak about how they love women and yet support a full platform to take our rights away- direct contradictions and lies, similar to those in VP candidate Paul Ryan’s speech.

Despite this and the listing of the female Republican leaders he has mentored and who spoke at the 2012 Convention, the media have got it wrong on focusing on the issue of deflection of the GOP attack on womens’ rights. This speech wasn’t about bringing women back into the fold or making amends for examples such as Todd Akin’s horrific statement and lack of biological knowledge or common sense.

It was about striking a balance between the economic and social arguments that voters care about. It is striking to note that the woman not mentioned by Mitt was Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona. One might posit that her exclusion has more to do with her controversial stance on immigration and the display of party disunity her inclusion would provoke.

The power of faith and family were invoked again and again. Interestingly Romney made only one direct mention to his own Mormon faith, using phrases such as ‘my Church’ instead. For all the talk of religious freedom, it still appears that the only religion that is allowed this freedom is Christianity within very strict perimeters.

“All the laws in the world will never heal this world. What we need is family and God’s love”. This quote for us encapsulates the main theme of the speech, and it made us wonder if the speech was so short because the GOP is so fractured and fragmented that a more complicated theme would have highlighted the severe internal divisions and discord?

Hannah McFaull and Cristina Barron are both graduate students at San Francisco State University. They are currently pursuing an MA in Political Science, specialising in American politics, gender and election campaigns. Both worked in politics before reentering higher education; Hannah as a member of the Policy and Communications Team at The Howard League for Penal Reform and Cristina through internships in Washington on the Hill and in the district for her Member of Congress. Both feminists, Hannah grew up in East London and is a member of the Labour Party, Cristina was raised in the Central Valley of California and is a Democrat.

  • Brumanuensis

    I watched Romney’s speech – insomnia again – and thought that Rubio overshadowed it, although ironically, given the endless Republican attacks on Obama for (not) saying ‘you didn’t build that’, his passage on the importance of community and family made exactly the same point Obama made. Nonetheless, Rubio’s speech was a good effort from a rhetorical point of view and I’d say he’ll be standing in 2016 if Romney doesn’t win this year. Romney’s speech was solid, but not exactly overwhelming and contained the usual cheap shots and distortions – ‘apology tour’? Really? – but at least it wasn’t as annoyingly self-righteous as Ryan’s.

    Here’s two fun facts about Romney’s speech, just to add to what Hannah and Cristina have written:

    1). His five-point plan to create 12 million jobs is specific only because 12 million is what forecasters have estimated that the US economy will create over the next four years regardless of political action. So he hasn’t exactly set himself a mountain to climb.

    2). The five-point plan is identical to what John McCain and George W Bush proposed in 2008 and 2004. Literally identical: http://www.nextnewdeal.net/rortybomb/romney-will-solve-crisis-exact-same-gop-plan-2008-2006-2004

    Oh and bonus link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3DGl-4gByV4

Latest

  • Comment Trade Union Action Week Uncategorized Unions Your right to legal representation must be protected

    Your right to legal representation must be protected

    If you are injured in an accident then the right to seek legal representation to support a claim for compensation is under threat. The age-old entitlement that compensation is fair to all, regardless of your wealth or position in society, is being challenged by proposed government changes. Most would find the right to redress an uncontroversial point of view – but the current government thinks differently. The very same Tory ministers who are making workers pay to bring a case to the Employment Tribunal, […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Trade Union Action Week Unions The vile union Bill takes us back to days of masters and servants

    The vile union Bill takes us back to days of masters and servants

    Working people and those who feel disenfranchised have traditionally been able to turn to Trade Unions for help, assistance and collective strength. Over the years, Trade Unions have used their collectivism to improve both terms and conditions and health and safety in the workplace. Indeed, one only has to study the history books to discover that by and large, wherever major, positive social changes and improved working conditions have occurred, you will more often than not find a connection to […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Trade Union Action Week Unions How the fight to save Somerset cider shows unions at work

    How the fight to save Somerset cider shows unions at work

    Cider-making is synonymous with the county of Somerset; it is weaved into the social fabric, the landscape and the rural communities. Yet, in this fast-moving, modern, global market place, iconic industries, such as cider-making, have no more protection than any other economic sector from forces which they have no control over, such as the slow-down in the Chinese economy. An example of this market trend came when it was announced that the Shepton Mallet Cider Mill would cease production at […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Trade Union Action Week Unions The Government are effectively creating state-sponsored blacklisting

    The Government are effectively creating state-sponsored blacklisting

    This week my union UCATT announced that it had secured compensation worth £5.6 million for 71 of our members who had their lives ruined by blacklisting. This is a major milestone in a seven year battle, on behalf of workers who were blacklisted on an industrial scale by major construction companies. Other workers are likely to secure compensation in the coming weeks and a High Court case is scheduled for May, when those guilty of blacklisting will be held to […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News Labour fears as Tories confirm plan to cut number of MPs

    Labour fears as Tories confirm plan to cut number of MPs

    Labour’s attempts to win a majority in the Commons have come under further attack as the Government vowed to press ahead with plans to cut the number of MPs by 50 to 600. The move, is expected to hit Labour disproportionately, was confirmed by Ministers today. Oliver Letwin chose to ignore the recommendations of a cross-party committee of MPs – which criticised the Government’s plans as “unsatisfactory”- and claimed there was “no merit” in re-opening the issue. The Tories want […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends










Submit