To Lose Gracefully

It’s a hard thing, to lose. It’s even harder to lose gracefully.

It has been a full two weeks since President Barack Obama won a second term to the presidency, and still, we are hearing the wailing of Gov. Mitt Romney.

Last week, he said that the president won the election because of “gifts” he gave minorities and young people. Those gifts included  health coverage, contraceptive coverage in health insurance, forgiveness of interest on college loans…among other things I guess would be called “entitlements.”

But it wasn’t gifts, Mr. Romney.  Mr. Obama won because he connected with more of the American electorate than you did.

It is hard to lose. It’s hard anytime, but when one spends as many years as has Mr. Romney, trying to be president, and as much money as he has spent, the loss has to be even more bitter.

One of the things I liked about Senator John McCain in 2008 is that he lost with grace – and he would not let his supporters be disrespectful to his opponent as he gave his concession speech. I will never forget his grace. I know the loss hurt.

Mr. Romney has not been so graceful. He has, in fact, shown that he did not or does not understand why he lost even now.  He still seems to regard some people in America as baggage – and expendable baggage at that. He does not understand that America is not the “traditional” America that he and other politicians grew to love and to know; Bill O’Reilly pointed that out quite well. No, America is becoming more and more pluralistic. It is a coat of many colors. It will never be the same again.

It is a “new normal” that Mr. Romney has not yet accepted. Gov. Bobby Jindal sees it, and so do other Republicans who have spoken out since Election Day.

It might be that Gov. Romney is not going to run for president again. I hope not …because he is a gift that keeps on giving. His opponents – both in a Republican primary and in a general election, would take his “Obama won because of gifts he gave…” and run with it.

I think the former governor would do well to set up for himself a new normal. Seems like it’s about time for that.

A candid observation …

 

The Manipulation of America’s Voters

All right, answer me something: is a woman’s voice, soft and slightly hushed, speaking under music,  been shown to sway people?

I don’t watch television much; I vowed not to watch it much as this political campaign swept into high gear. The ads are manipulative and so often, not true. I remember when in the 1988 campaign between George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis, an ad was run about a man named Willie Horton.  The issue was the death penalty. Bush was for it, Dukakis was apparently against it and advocated convicted felons getting weekend passes. Willie Horton lived in Dukakis’ state of Massachusetts and got such passes. He reportedly murdered a young teen on one of his weekend visits. He was put back into prison but got out and reportedly raped and murdered a woman. That was it. There was Horton’s image on the screen in front of the world: a dark-skinned black man with disheveled hair. He represented what so many people thought about black people, and the ad did what it was supposed to do. Bush won.

I remember being furious about it  because it fed into people’s fears and it fed the widespread belief in the inherent “criminality” of black men. The criminalization of black men really originated after Reconstruction, when angry Southern  whites decided that black people would not be free, Emancipation or not. Slavery had provided the necessary labor to plant and harvest the South’s crops and thus contribute mightily   to the agrarian aristocracy. Under Reconstruction, blacks could own property; they could vote and participate in the political process.  Their children could go to public school. Whites were never impressed with Emancipation because many of them genuinely believed that blacks were inferior to whites and that they were supposed to work for white people. And so, by the late 1800s, the South began to fight back. They put in place vagrancy laws that made it possible for law enforcement to arrest anyone for the slightest thing: selling products they had grown after dark, walking without having money (many walked during the day to find work), not having a job …the laws were ridiculous and wrong. What began to happen systematically is that black men were disproportionately arrested for such “crimes” and were convicted, usually without a trial. Law enforcement officers and justices of the peace would “sell” the new convict to a farmer or a business, which would then require the new convict to work until his debt was paid. When such an unfortunate man was sold, he was at the mercy of his new “owner,” and was worked mercilessly, and often, his new owner would accuse him of another “crime” at or toward the end of his sentence, and his sentence would be extended. The result of this practice, called “convict leasing,” was that prisons began to fill up primarily with black men, and thus the “criminalization” of black men began. Their inability to stay out of  “trouble” with the law proved they were not worthy of freedom. Blacks were predisposed to crime, the belief would be …and continues to this day. So in 1988, those who ran the campaign knew exactly what they were doing. Horton would be a reminder, most especially to white Republicans, that the country needed a man “strong on crime” to keep our streets free from the awful black man.

Well, things have not changed so much. There have not been, among the ads I have seen, any such that compare to the Willie Horton ad, but they are plenty slanted toward the same base that Bush’s 1988 ads were. Mitt Romney’s now infamous “47 percent” speech is not surprising. I wonder who he was really thinking about when he named “47 percent” of Americans who were content to be “victims,” and mooch America’s treasury? I wonder his his campaign thought of who was in that 47 percent?  President Obama uses Romney’s words to his advantage …as any politician would.

But there are ads where an attack on either candidate is as vicious as a wolf eating its prey, and what I have noticed is that many times, there is a soft-spoken woman making the point of the attack, her words carried by music, a lot of it piano. What is the deal?

I wish there were no ads at all. I despise the fact that both candidates are raising literally millions of dollars to get their messages out while so many people in America are in dire straits. I thought about that today as I thought about a friend who is really going through it right now. He is unemployed and “out there,” and it is a constant job to keep him above ground. I wonder how that soft woman’s voice and piano music sounds to him?

I know there is probably someone in marketing who can explain the effect of this soft voice/soft music is. What part of the brain does it reach?

And is there a place on the brain where the suffering of people takes hold?  It doesn’t seem like it. Americans are manipulated as they listen to their views or their circumstances articulated in such a masterful way. What is sad is that after the election, there won’t be anyone out stomping the land, trying to raise money for America’s struggling citizens.

And that makes me very sad.

A candid observation …

Is Romney Kidding?

Romney
Romney (Photo credit: Talk Radio News Service)

I read an article – and listened to a video tape – that captured GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney saying some pretty disparaging things about much of this nation.

The article, written by David Corn, said that Romney has disdain for 47 percent of this nation’s population who, he says, believe in big government, have victim mentalities, and have no interest in making a good life for themselves. (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/09/secret-video-romney-private-fundraiser). Romney was speaking to a group of wealthy potential donors. What he needed from them, he said, was “millions of dollars.”

Said Romney: “There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.”

He then went on to say that he wasn’t going to worry about that 47 percent, because they voted for President Obama in 2008 and will vote for him again. He also acknowledged that he is having trouble getting Hispanic voters.

But …back to the 47 percent …I had to ask myself as I listened to the video (yes, Romney himself is speaking) if he was kidding. Does he really have that low an opinion of  nearly half of this country’s population?  And is he arrogant enough to believe that he can win the election as he touts such views?

When one donor complained to Romney that he wasn’t attacking the president with enough “intellectual firepower,” the GOP candidate said that the campaign trail was not the place for “high-minded and detail-oriented arguments.”

I was squashed at the arrogance of all that he said. In a related articled which appeared in The Washington Post, author Greg Sargent said that the 47 percent of Americans whom Romney criticized as being government moochers do not, as Romney correctly said, pay income taxes, but they do pay state and local taxes. They would be appalled, if not disgusted, Sargent argues, at being lumped into a giant pool of lazy, opportunistic victims. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/post/romney-ill-never-convince-obama-voters-to-take-responsibility-for-their-lives/2012/09/17/0c1f0bcc-0104-11e2-b260-32f4a8db9b7e_blog.html).

All of the reports recently which have addressed the issue of how tax cuts for the wealthy impacts an economy say that such cuts do not help the economy and do not spur the creation of  jobs. Yet, Romney continues to push that argument, and in the process, insults a huge number of Americans who might be called the “working poor.”

Romney says he was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and in this leaked video, criticizes the other side for implying as much, but he certainly has not spent time amongst the working poor. He has not been in their (our) shoes, and experienced their struggles. Many to most people are not financially literate, and so are at the behest of a capitalistic society which takes advantage of their financial ignorance, but the fact that many people are not good with money does not justify such a snooty and arrogant description of them.

One wonders what this nation will be like, which direction it will go, if Romney wins in November. President Obama’s policies may not be favorable to everyone,  and the president still has not mentioned the worth of poor people in this nation. His focus is on the middle class, which seems not to exist so much anymore; his policies are designed to lift and support them. The poor have not been mentioned much, if at all.

But at least the president seems to know that there is such a thing as the “working poor,” who might be included in that 47 percent of people whom Romney has decided he is going to ignore.

Seriously, Mr. Romney? How arrogant.

A candid observation …

 

Where are the GOP Candidates?

Did I miss it?

A true American tragedy has happened. A young, unarmed teen has been shot dead, and the shooter has not been arrested. The parents are anguished, the nation, black, white, and brown, is outraged, and I haven’t heard the GOP presidential candidates, with the exception of Newt Gingrich, say a word about it.

There has not been a word from GOP frontrunners Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum about it.

Gingrich, while defending the “stand your ground” law that Florida follows, has said that the case is a tragedy and has said that a full investigation is warranted. He has even said that the “stand your ground” law “may not apply in this case.”

So, are we to assume that the other three candidates, Santorum, Romney and Paul, do not care about this case, about what appears to be a true American tragedy? Have they no room in their hearts to at least express concern and care for young Trayvon’s parents?

Santorum raised the biggest stink about contraception. He has been vocal about the “attack on religious freedom,” but is he really so out of touch as to not see the vestiges of  injustice in this case?  Mr. Romney has spent literally millions of dollars to attack his GOP opponents; is there not a thread of outrage in him that would encourage him to attack or at least address a justice system that has allowed a gross injustice to occur?

This type of injustice as concerns African-American men, is not new. It is part of America’s reality. Any president, or one who wants to be president, is surely aware of that…and ought to have the chutzpah to speak out against it. After all, if Romney or Santorum were to be elected, he would have to be president of all of the people, not just of their base.

Am I wrong?

Thank goodness for the groundswell of outrage all over the country.  From what has been presented to us, there are serious questions about what happened. What seems sure, though, is that Trayvon Martin should not be dead,and George Zimmerman ought to be answering for his behavior.

Thank goodness, too, that we are seeing the capacity of Santorum and Romney to be willing to be president of all of the people, and their capacity to take a stand on a difficult issue: racism and the justice system in America.

These two men are not presidential. The president of the United States has to be the president of all of us. He (or she) has to have the courage to stand up and against what appears to be wrong. At the least, he or she has to be able to relate to Americans who are hurting, like Trayvon’s parents.

President Obama, who has walked carefully over the minefield called race and racism in America, has spoken out, saying that if he had a son, “he would look like Trayvon,” but he said he wanted to respect the investigation of the case,  both national and local. That was the right thing to do, the right thing to say. That as presidential.

However,neither  Santorum, Romney nor Paul has shown compassion or backbone, not in this instance.

It’s a significant revelation. It is a telling revelation. It is a troubling revelation.

A candid observation …

What Is a Conservative?

Mitt Romney at one of his presidential campaig...
Image via Wikipedia

OK. I am confused.

What is a “real” Conservative? And when did the word “Liberal” become a virtual cuss word for those who are on the Right?

I was perplexed when Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney said last week that he was “severely Conservative.”  I didn’t know what it meant; I am glad that David Frum, in an article posted on the CNN blog, said that what Romney meant to say was that he was, or is, “strongly” Conservative. (http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/13/opinion/frum-romney-moves)

Michelle Bachmann said she was the “perfect” Conservative, and this week, Sarah Palin intimated that Romney still has to prove he is Conservative enough to be a viable candidate to run against President Obama.

But I am still confused. What is a Conservative, really? What do Conservatives stand for? There seems to be a standard in order for one to call oneself “Conservative.” It’s like the elusive “standard” that exists for being “black.” President Obama has been chided by some for not being “black enough,” and by others for being “too black,” so much so that there is literally nothing else to call him but a Socialist.

In order to be a Conservative, what does one have to stand for? It’s can’t be small government and less government spending, because George W. Bush said he was a Conservative but made the government super huge and spent money like it was going to evaporate. He was “conservative” when it came to interfering with Terri Schiavo…meaning, he was on the bandwagon to make sure life-saving measures were not discontinued…but wait. That couldn’t have been Conservative, could it, when he invited the United States Supreme Court in to make a ruling on the case?

As I have always understood it, Conservatives stand for less government …but that’s not a constant standard, is it? I mean, some Conservatives are mad about “Obamacare,” because they say it’s government intrusion in health care, but isn’t the government already highly involved, so much so that we don’t have the freedom in some cases to choose our own doctors like we used to be able to, and we might be out of luck if we do not get certain medical procedures approved by our insurance companies first? Didn’t the government have something to do with where we are in health care today?

I am not being facetious. I am confused. What is the difference between a “real” Conservative and a Liberal? And what is it about liberalism that makes Conservatives so mad?  Is it because Conservatives think that a government ought not help the poor? Is it the Conservative viewpoint that people are down and out because they want to be and that they are where they are because they are just lazy? Is that what I am hearing underneath some of what Romney, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have said? And is the Conservative view that we should let the elderly of our population kind of wing it when it comes to health care? I know Medicare is expensive, but what I am not sure about is what Conservatives are saying.

I am not trying to be a smart-aleck. I am genuinely confused. The Conservatives, many of them, say they are part of the evangelical population of this country. That is why they are against gay marriage, and want to overturn Roe vs. Wade…but if they are so attached to The Holy Bible, wouldn’t they have seen the literally hundreds of references about the poor and how God’s people are supposed to take care of them?  Liberals have been accused of being without religion, but what kind of religion is it that the Conservatives, a.k.a. the evangelicals, ascribe to?

I am genuinely confused. Is it just me, or is there a problem here? If Romney is “severely” or “strongly” a Conservative, what does that mean? When he ran for governor of Massachusetts, he said he was a Progressive. So…what do we have here? A new strain of politician? Is Romney a Progressive Conservative? Or a Conservative Progressive? It’s all really hard to understand for a non-sophisticated citizen like myself.

A candid observation …