The national party conventions are the most prime opportunity for a candidate to make his/her case for the presidency. The national news networks are finally all tuned in and giving their undivided attention. For the first time, they have a national audience, and they, the candidates, get to set the agenda. This moment was very important for both the President and Governor Romney but for different reasons.
President Obama needed to stand up and convince America that he deserves four more years. He needed to explain why his leadership, that we’ve all seen, will be good for another term and then go on to explain what he’d do with it.
Governor Romney on the other hand had the task of explaining why he, the man without four years of presidential experience, would be that much better than the current option. He needed to lay out his plan for America’s future and show that America is not currently on the right course.
We’ll start with looking at Romney’s speech since he gave his first, and part of Obama’s speech was in response to Romney’s.
In the most basic terms, Romney’s speech was a success. Something that I’ve been noticing about Romney recently is that he is making his case for the presidency by acting presidential. After being introduced, Romney walked in from the back of the hall. To many observers, it was very akin to the way in which the president enters the House of Representatives, from the back, just before delivering the State of the Union address. There was a lot of hand shaking, hugs to friends, and one slightly awkward moment when Romney had to ask a lady not to touch his face because he was afraid of her ruining his stage make-up (before you laugh about him wearing make up, remember it was stage make up that helped JFK win in the presidential debates against Nixon. The debates were televised for the first time, and Nixon refused to put on make up…JFK looked better).
Then once behind the podium, he spoke to his purpose. Remember, that purpose was to make his case for the presidency. He started by first making the case that people should be considering a change in leadership. He asked the country to really ask themselves, “are you better than you were 4 years ago?” He supplied evidence to the fact that they weren’t. After getting people to consider new leadership, he explained what that meant. He laid out a five point plan to economic and job recovery which included energy independence by 2020 and stronger trade relations abroad. He ended by expressing his love for America, and all that politician fluff.
Exactly one week later, Obama spoke to his party. His entrance was a lot different, instead of coming from the back of a well lit room, he came from back stage of a dark room under a spotlight to the tune of a Coldplay song. The Obama people are really good at theatrical drama and evoking the most emotional response from their audience. This is no exception.
The speech itself, again, should have been aimed at laying out his plan for his next term as a way of convincing people that he deserves more time. He started with an acknowledgement of the historic nature of this election. He then went on to attack the speeches given by the republicans, throwing in the word God at every opportunity, just in case people still remembered how the DNC almost removed all instances of God from their party platform. He then laid out a long list of democratic party principles. He said that they could add thousands of jobs in multiple areas, and the only thing that he needs in order to do that is our help.
So what do we learn from this? Well, we just get confirmation of what we already know. This is a fundamental difference, in my opinion, between the Romney campaign and Obama campaign. Romney speaks to the country as a whole and offers a plan to help the whole; Obama seeks to divide and conquer.
Another great example of Romney doing well what he did at the convention was during his speech to the NAACP. There is an organization which is made up almost entirely of Obama supporters, but Romney went to them anyway. He realized that if he is going to be President of the United States then he will be president of all Americans, not just Republicans. He went into that meeting with the NAACP, and gave a very similar speech to those he gives all over the country. He was even booed at one point for saying some unpopular things. But the thing is, Romney will not pander. He will not change his message because of the color of people’s skin or their social standing. He is to be a president of all Americans.
But Obama knows that in a system of winner take all, he doesn’t need all of America to agree with him, heck he doesn’t even need half of America to agree with him. He just needs more people to agree with him than with Romney. And so how does he do it? Obama’s strategy has been to divide the people then gather up enough groups to secure his victory and save the needy and oppressed, as he feels that he is doing. This is seen in his divisive rhetoric against the business class of the country. He rallies the poor and middle class around the idea that the rich Americans don’t really care about the country or people who are under them. He attacks the successful for the purpose of gaining the support of those who want a share of their profits.
That’s what he did at the convention. If you listen, you’ll hear that he was speaking directly to his base. He was preaching to the choir to get them to sing louder. This wasn’t a speech for the undecided voter, like Romney’s was. If it was, he would have given more concrete ideas, and not abstract hopes and dreams for the future.
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