My mom used to tell me to watch out for guys with an "I" problem -- as in me, myself and I. The ones who were selfish. Those guys, she warned, were "bad dates." I feel like I've just been on a weeklong bad date with the Republican Party.
David Brooks' column in the New York Times yesterday put into words what had been bothering me: the Republicans in Tampa offered a vision of "rampant hyperindividualism. Speaker after speaker celebrated the solitary and heroic individual. There was almost no talk of community and compassionate conservatism."
He's right. It was so intensely individualistic. There was a genuine disdain for the weakness of collective experience. In an era of movies about superheroes individually conquering evil, and with a big chunk of the GOP professing love for the likes of Ayn Rand and Libertarian thought, it's not surprising that their convention was essentially rooting for rugged individualism to slay the soft dragon of community. This past week, self-glorification trumped common national vision. The "I" conquered the "we."
Next week, Democrats in North Carolina have to boldly counter this anti-"we" zeal. And no one can speak to who "we are" as a nation better than Barack Obama.
I am so hoping, asking you Mr. President, to please take the rhetoric back. Heroism is its greatest when directed to saving all of us, saving "we" not just "I." Mr. President -- I like superheroes as much as the next moviegoer, but to be super, a hero cannot be selfish.
We need a 21st century Mario Cuomo-like convention speech to rally us, Mr. President -- a speech that answers our yearning for compassion, not selfishness. We want you, Mr. President, to remind us that we are part of something bigger, we're part of that wagon train that Cuomo described in that speech long ago: that we're in a wagon that carries all of our American family to new ground; that we don't leave the widow on the side of the trail because she's too frail to carry her weight; or the orphan because he's too small to contribute. We carry our brother with a disability and our sister who's ill. That's who we are. That's what we do.
Yes, we do celebrate individuals who overcome, and we help to remove barriers for those who are still struggling on the journey.
Call us, Mr. President, to serve each other. Please, remind us of that nobility. Take us to higher ground. Make my soul sing. Make our hearts full. Sure, talk about your economic plans, your foreign policy achievements and your domestic vision, but more importantly, please feed our hunger for a leader who asks us to give, not take.
In other words, sir, next week, please take us on a good date.
Originally aired on The War Room with Jennifer Granholm. The War Room airs weeknights at 9 p.m. EST on Current TV. Follow Jennifer Granholm on Facebook and Twitter, and The War Room on Facebook and Twitter.
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