Looking to the Right: My Thoughts on the 2012 Republican National Convention

Politically speaking, I lean to the left.  I vote Democrat.  I support Affirmative Action, the DREAM act, gay marriage, the legalization of marijuana and I am pro choice.  I believe in ending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and I support Wall Street regulation.  That being said, it’s August; convention time!  So I spent this week listening in on the Republican National Convention with the intention of getting to know my political polar opposites a little better; the Right.  To be honest, I’ve never watched a full RNC before.  I’ve protested at one (The 2004 RNC in New York), but I haven’t really given Republicans a fair shot with regard to understanding their ideology.  So this time around, I challenged myself to listen to their keynote speakers and platform.

Not long into the first night of speeches, I began to have what might be called an allergic reaction.  All of my liberal white blood cells within my body rushed to lobby against what they detected as a foreign invasion; an immune system sortie on the rhetoric that threatened to destroy me with distortions, comments taken out of context and extremism.  Sadly to say, I found myself acting very juvenile in response; mocking my Republican officials with my own brand of political satire, taking shots at their bright red clothing and even sarcastically applauding with the audience and chanting along; “WE BUILT IT!”  (I even created a Village People YMCA- like cheer involving my hands signaling MITT for Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney)  Needless to say, I needed to step up my maturity if I was going to get anything meaningful out of this convention.

But perhaps my embarrassing antics were exacerbated by comments like “We are truly the best, last hope on Earth,” made by Saratoga Springs, UT Mayor Mia Love as she brought her speech to a close.  I honestly believe America is a country that would oppose existential threats to life by totalitarian states or terrorist organizations on Earth regardless if a Republican or Democrat was elected president.  I understand her intention was to make a rallying call to her party members, but portraying the GOP as the savior of the planet seems a little exaggerated.

And when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie took the podium and said, “We are the great grandchildren of men and women who broke their backs in the name of American ingenuity; the grandchildren of the Greatest Generation; the sons and daughters of immigrants…” I couldn’t help but think that he missed a great opportunity to prove the claims that some in the Republican Party have made about them being the party most suited to address the needs of the African-American community, by not recognizing the contribution that slaves made to this country, in addition to immigrants.

On the second night of the convention, I determined to act my age and listen attentively.  I enjoyed listening to Arizona Senator John McCain and even though I disagreed with Attorney Generals Pam Bondi (FL) and Sam Olens’ (GA) view on Obamacare, I now feel as if I understand their objectives a little more clearly.  But when former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice commented “…we need to give parents greater choice, particularly poor parents whose kids, very often minorities, are trapped in failing neighborhood schools. This is the civil rights issue of our day,” I felt she, like Governor Chris Christie, once again missed out on a great opportunity to show America that the GOP was the party best suited to meet the needs of the African-American Community (as well as other minority communities) by directly linking the struggle for those minority voters who now find themselves marginalized because of new voter ID laws across the country, with what she claims as the “civil rights issue of our day.”

To be honest, I think Mitt Romney would be a good president for the American economy.  He knows business.  He knows how to generate income.  I think it would be a step backwards on many of the social issues that are important to me if Mitt Romney were elected, but a step forward for the economy, mainly because, he would not be facing a Congress that, quite frankly, would be as hostile to his proposed agenda, as it has been to President Obama.  Put quite simply, I think the legislative process may run more smoothly with Mitt Romney at the helm because the obstacle of an African-American as president for a majority White Republican Congress that is obviously still dealing with the ever-present challenge of race in our society, will have been removed.

Yet, it is my hope that President Obama is reelected, as I do plan to vote for him.  And should his supporters vote, not only for him but for the Democratic leadership in the Congress and Senate that is necessary to assist him with his agenda (As sadly, in my opinion, we did not do a good enough job of in 2010, which gave rise to many of the Tea Party members assuming seats in Congress, and subsequently, creating a force of opposition to the President), I believe the economy will grow, and more jobs will be created.

On an unrelated note, I have been reading Love, Life and Elephants: An African Love Story by Dame Daphne Sheldrick.  The book is about her experiences running an orphanage for animals near Tsavo National Park in Kenya,  and I decided to draw one of the elephants from the photos in the book for the illustration for this article.  (I learned about Dame Daphne Sheldrick from one of Chelsea Clinton’s stories on NBC Nightly News)  I may not agree with the GOP, but they have a great mascot!

©2012

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It Takes Two To Tango

Yesterday, once again, I took advantage of the free event series offered at the Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach.  The last time I entered the auditorium on the third floor it was to listen to the bluegrass sounds of musician Tuck Tucker.  This time I was treated to a dance exhibition sponsored by Exclusively Argentine Tango At George’s.  This dance studio showcased 8 professional dancers, 4 men and 4 women, who wowed the crowed with their sophisticated steps.  Each pair was gracious enough to explain the history of the dance they performed as well as to inform the audience of the background regarding the music they chose to dance to.

It did not take long for the sensual mood of the music to make its presence known.  After all, what would the tango be without sensuality?  Violin, bass, piano and bandoneón all woven together to make a musical quilt, all encompassing and comforting.  It’s as if the music puts you at ease, lowers your defenses, soothes your aches, whisks you away to some enchanted place, and makes the potential for something romantic possible.  Enter the dancers!  Graceful, sleek women with subtle curves gliding on downbeats clad in silk.  Refined, gentle yet firm men, granted permission to lead the dance while holding the world in their arms.

After several sets of dances and much applause, the exhibition ended and I was invited to a reception, luncheon and milonga (The term for the music and dance which comprise Argentine Tango) at Exclusively Argentine Tango At George’s.  I had the privilege of eating lunch and conversing with the exceptional dancers I had just enjoyed watching perform on stage.  There, I was treated once again to their fancy footwork on the studio’s dance floor and some very interesting commentary concerning the nature of a woman being “led” by a man in the tango.

As one of the female dancers I met named Vanya put it, a man leading a woman on the dance floor isn’t sexist, because the man is more or less inviting the woman to dance.  As with any invitation, the invitee can either accept or reject the inviter.  And when a woman accepts the man’s invitation, it can open the door for unexpected opportunities on the dance floor.  Susan, another of the female dancers seemed to approve of this assertion.  I wonder if it is only coincidental that the dancer who made this observation went on to imply a strong correlation to the dating world.  After all, a date also starts with an invitation, which is either accepted or rejected.  I suggested she write a book on that correlation.  It Takes Two To Tango has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

© 2012