As incomprehensible as it seems eight weeks before the election, some people remain undecided in this close election. Now party conventions are over and those undecideds have an even clearer picture of where each will lead our nation. The beliefs and principles of each party are clearly articulated in their platforms and the speakers made their case. It is crucial to read the platforms.
The speeches began with Ann Romney, a beautiful strong lady who gave a great one. She convinced us Mitt is a good family man and father. They have five good-looking children and beautiful grandchildren. Where she went wrong was speaking about their life together and trying to convince people she understood what being poor and struggling is. It was a mistake because it wasn't the truth and she didn't have to do it. She should have embraced their wealth and the time it gave them with family allowing Mitt to finish Harvard without college loans. Americans respect wealth and those who have it. They just want to know that those who have it are willing to give back and Mitt Romney has done that. It was a lost opportunity.
Then we heard keynoter Chris Christie who talked about himself instead of Romney and Clint Eastwood who talked trash.
The main Republican persuaders were Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney himself. Ryan made a huge mistake by either outright lying or leaving out just enough of the facts to alter the reality of much of what he said. He couldn't talk about what he really believed because it didn't fit the picture Republicans wanted to present. He is a far-right ideologue. He hid his budget work because Mitt Romney has said he doesn't embrace the Ryan budget but will present his own. That is a conundrum for the Party and for Ryan.
Mitt Romney was faced with defining himself and his blueprint for the future. He did a good job as far as it went. But he promised 12 million jobs without enunciating any plan to create them. He attacked Obama's vision but presented no clear one of his own. Romney also couldn't be Romney because he couldn't speak about his record as governor of Massachusetts. He couldn't have won the Republican nomination on that record. His major accomplishment was health care reform and he was in favor of keeping Roe v. Wade before he was against it. He actually supported some rights for the LGBT community but those positions are an anathema to those currently controlling his party. The speech left too much unsaid for undecided voters to be swayed by it.
Then it was the Democrats' turn. Michelle Obama went first and she was radiant. Her role was not to introduce her husband but to reintroduce him; to show how he was the same man many loved four years ago which was not an easy task. She did well and many believed that she managed to make her husband come alive again for many people speaking about how being President hasn't changed his basic beliefs. She talked about him as husband and dad and like Ann Romney portrayed her husband as a strong family man.
The Democratic keynote, Mayor Julian Castro, spoke eloquently of his grandmother and mother and did a better job than Christie of connecting their lives to his candidate, Barack Obama.
Then came the game changer as far as many were concerned. Instead of the vice president being the prime-time speaker before Obama, Democrats chose Bill Clinton, which turned out to be a brilliant move. Some suggested he gave a master class in political speech-making. Clinton gave a step-by-step critique of the Republicans and a step-by-step reason to vote for Obama. He did it with facts, figures and humor. A 48-minute speech with the strongest line a blistering critique of the main Republican rationale for electing them which is, "We left him a total mess, he hasn't cleaned it up fast enough, so put us back in." Clinton set up President Obama's speech better than anyone else could have.
The president spoke on the final night and had a yeoman's task that included convincing many of the 23 million Americans still out of work that they should stick with and trust him for another four years. He had to make the case that he moved the country forward and if they stuck with him even their lives would get better. He appeared to do that with a good speech though not his best but he did clearly set out his vision for the nation's future.
We now know that we have the clearest choice in years between the two parties. The Democratic vision includes a woman's right to control her own body; a way for young immigrant dreamers to get their education; gays and lesbians having a right to marry; and shared responsibility. The Republican vision includes trickle-down economics; turning Medicare into a voucher system; taking away a woman's control over her own reproductive system; and repealing previously hard won rights for the LGBT community.
The undecided voter must now make up their mind. After hearing the speeches, and reading the platforms, I believe that a majority of them won't see themselves or their interests represented by the Republican Party, which is the best reason for those still undecided to vote for Barack Obama.