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Mixed Messages at the GOP Convention


Kathleen T

The GOP Convention is serving up as many mixed messages as Mitt Romney himself has sent over his political career. Just last night we saw Ann Romney give a speech focused on the importance of love and how it has shaped her life and her marriage. It was followed by an aggressive speech by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who began by saying, “now is not the time for love.” And the reversals didn’t stop there.
The theme itself of the convention is “We Built It,” a jab at an out of context quote by President Obama. He was making the argument that no man with success is an island; they all depend on government- funded infrastructure like bridges, roads, and schools. Romney has even admitted this in his own speeches, having said “a lot of people help you in a business… the people who provide roads, the fire, the police.” So essentially, the Republican National Convention has chosen to center itself around an idea that Romney doesn’t even disagree with. The conventions are about celebrating the party’s enduring values, and apparently the Republican platform is so weak that they’ve resorted to distorting a comment by the President instead of promoting their own vision for the country.
It was curious to see the methods they’re using to promote this “We Built It” message. Last night, a small business owner named Phil Archuletta gave a prime-time speech that supported the argument that Obama was making. He explained, “In 2004, President Bush made it possible for our company to manufacture signs for all federal agencies.” His business, P&M Signs, has received $18,252 in federal contracts between 2000 and 2011, and his argument was that he isn’t getting enough federal support. It was a direct negation of the small government theme that the GOP has been running on.
I was beginning to feel whiplash from all the flip flopping by the end of the speeches last night. First I was told the importance of love, then to stop loving. I saw the sign that said “We Built It” above a speaker that celebrated the contribution that government made to success. I listened to countless speakers proclaim how unnecessary government is in building a successful business, yet all of this was held in a convention center built by labor unions and supported by federal subsidies. I learned of a party platform that supports English as the nation’s official language and recognizing no dissent in the abortion argument, saying “the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.” But in 1980, the GOP platform expressed that ESL citizens should not “be barred from education or employment opportunities because English is not their first language” and on abortion “we recognize differing views on this question among Americans in general—and in our own party.”
What a conservative right turn the GOP Party has taken along the way. No wonder the party keeps sending those mixed messages.