I feel sorry for all of us. Not because we are products of an abusive childhood, though some were. Not because we were denied the diversity of a truly liberal arts education, though most of us have. Not because our lives have moved from the thrilling to the mundane. No, I feel sorry for all of us because we have become a mass of Stepford Americans. We have become the mindless automations that populated the book and the movie. We accept what is thrown at us without question, pending the filtration of our own personal biases and then walk around spouting those banalities like the old tape recorders we dictated into.
What brought on this latest flight into observation of the human condition. It was another night of watching the republican national convention. I had two televisions going at the same time and another taping two other channel's coverage of the speeches and the reactions to those speeches. I did that because I am an addict. One whose drug of choice is the American political system. News and talk radio are my lifeblood. But listening to the speeches and the commentary around those speeches last night and the night before gave me a jolt. It made me think long and hard about why we listen to these men and women who stand up before us and try to convince us that their worldview perfectly aligns with our view.
We saw it in the red meaters who practically screamed partisan insensitivity to get the loyal masses aroused and ready to fight the coming war against the democratic infidels. Chris Christie and Rand Paul carried that banner well, although they colored their presentation with enough misinterpretations, half-truths and lies to fill up another speech. There were the soothers, those people whose role was to present the candidate with a kinder, gentler personna. Who better to do that then his wife. Then of course, there was the main eventer. The new darling of the tea party conservatives, the new young gun of the republican party, the new Lincoln, the future leader, Paul Ryan. His speech was designed to coalesce the base. To ensure that the Stepford Americans marched in lock step with the soon to be crowned nominee, Mitt Romney. It made no difference that just a few short weeks ago, most in the party hated Romney. But the money was there and his organization was strong, so the Stepford's got in line for this little modified love fest that has been in play for the past two days.
But what of those who were watching and listening with less jaundiced eye the past few days. There are those who are not yet entered into the lead and I will follow you anywhere line of thought. These people must exist on the republican side of the fence as well as on the democratic side. For those of us who believe that the Romney / Ryan ticket is terrible, not because of who they are, but because their platforms are built on a lie, there were actually three very interesting speeches given last night.
The first was to be expected. Ex-governor Mike Huckabee made his pitch during his on air audition for the 2016 republican nomination. Although what he said wasn't earthshattering, his easy going folksy manner paired with his pastoral sensibility will make him the darling of the evangelical wing of the republican party in the next cycle. The lesson Mr. Huckabee brings to the table is that you can still manipulate the masses with an extremely far right agenda if you act like a friendly neighborhood pastor, just concerned with your and your yet to be conceived child's well being.
The second speech that I found to be interesting that was unexpected for me was the address given by Suzanna Martinez, the governor of New Mexico. This is a woman that I know very little about, but if this was the GOP rolling her out on the national stage, it was well choreographed. She did not appear to be a Stepford politician, cut from the same mold as all the others. She came across as bright, witty, and energetic. Her speech did not show any of the nastiness that most of the other speeches did. She is a force to be reckoned with in the future.
But the speech of the day, and very possibly of the entire convention season was the beautifully crafted talk by Condoleeza Rice. I have never been a fan of Ms. Rice's politics and still deplore her neo-con foreign policy credentials, but she, in a short speech truly showed all those around her and those back in Washington how the country might work on a bi-partisan basis to meet some of the truly persistent problems facing this nation. She didn't demonstrate any knowledge of domestic policy but was able to deliver a speech with enough soaring prose and unique grandeur to get thinking persons in this nation to sit up and take notice. This was not unlike the Obama speech at the DNC in 2004 or the Powell speech at the RNC in 2000. It may move a national dialogue forward.
It is a pity that we will probably fall back into the morass of presidential banality and lies tonight. Mitt Romney will tell us what he thinks we want to hear rather than what he really thinks. The commentators on the various stations will spin it into oblivion and consign it to the trash heap of lies. But most of the people, either this week or next, will listen to one of those acceptance speeches and say, "where you lead, I will follow" rather than "show us the way to a higher plane. Let's climb to the mountaintop together."