A brief personal take on the Republican Convention.
I’m uncomfortable with sentimentality and had papers to grade, so I let it run in the background – but, the melody began to command notice; slowly the harmony became familiar. The melody was old and lovely. It interweaves family, friends, faith – the tribal, the communal, the sacred. Proportions vary as all join the vocational, the work we love because it is purposeful. That wasn’t just Romney nor Ryan – it was Martinez and Rubio, Rice and Christie, speaker after speaker.
Romney is a bit straight arrow, a bit 50’s – 21st century businessman that he also clearly is, finger on the pulse of today’s market and today’s technology. The convention was young and vibrant and alive – an optimistic Republican depth. But history can be our friend; we return to what works, gives us felicity, encourages in us the productive self we can be. We return to the primacy of the “negative” rights some denigrate, noting the impossibility (and undesirability) of a government guarantee for “positive” ones.
Obama thinks we need balconies and cupolas – remodeling that sturdy, simple, federalist house into an encrusted and European wanna-be. He spent the nation’s energy and money on tawdry decorations – banners and cheap paint jobs that peeled almost as they were painted, hot air captured in balloons that burst, entangled in trees; much of the work simply dissipated, leaving the house mortgaged and its cracks widening. He didn’t seem to know our tradition – the servantless house; self-reliance.
Our responsibility moves in enlarging circles – ourselves, our family, our community. This responsibility reinforces natural affections but is also efficient – those closest best know needs – and those close know best solutions. Blending efficiency with compassion was a consideration of our founders; this principle is not likely to grow central government. It is not the teacher of constitutional law but the businessman who understands; not the clueless vice president brought on to give gravitas but the young, brisk candidate can explain. We see it in Romney’s acts and Ryan’s theory.
The strength of our foundation and a sense of the large cracks that need fixing has been a popular theme lately. What’s old is new again. When we see the Romney/Ryan ticket, we see two men who’ve been disciplined by experience – as has that long line of speakers with their stories of struggle and triumph. The picture is of a people whose potential can be lived, who are not stunted nor ambitions entangled in a web of delay and indirection.
All emphasized respect, family, perseverance, love. Families, faith, communities gave them purpose. Governments can’t do that. They can make it difficult (inserting themselves into families, inserting themselves into faiths, tangling the paths to fulfillment in vocation). But they can’t make it purposeful. A national identity – its history & ideas – can give force and a cheerful patriotism ran throughout the convention. That was derived not from a feeling for government but for a nation’s history, for its ideal (the open marketplace – of ideas, of commerce, of religion), and for the rule of law. The rule of regulations and regulators is not what it is about – and not what our hands cover our hearts to honor. I never listen to Limbaugh but by chance heard him Friday – his theme was the convention’s buoyancy, its good cheer. That was the note, I think: life in America can be purposeful; long, hard work is not depressing when it makes your children more safe, more free. Then, indeed, we welcome it. And in doing so, we become who we can be.