by Siobhan Carroll, Guest Blogger
I was on tap to do a recap of today’s RNC events, but as we know Isaac the liberal hurricane is bearing down on the gulf coast, ready to ruffle helmet hair and ruin delegates’ prime time makeup for miles around Tampa. Therefore, Monday’s events consist of the following:
Monday, August 27, 2012
2:00 p.m. Chairman of the RNC Reince Priebus
Call to Order/Start Debt Clocks
2:10 p.m. Announcement of Recess
Ten minutes to start the debt clock that will be running outside of a coliseum built with public funds during an event that will cost the republican national committee a couple hundred million dollars. Let’s rename it Hurricane Irony!
So let’s focus a bit on Tuesday – the key speakers of the day are Ann Romney and Chris Christie. This is a fascinating dichotomy- the millionaire housewife and mother, usually demure, always polite vs. New Jersey’s head blowhard. I’m genuinely interested in Ann Romney’s remarks, as I haven’t heard much from her outside of her referring to us as “you people” during her famous tax return comments (right back atcha Anniekins!). It is clear that she is a devoted wife and mother, and Mitt has said he looks to her for advice, much like Barack does to Michelle. Her speech gives us an opportunity to see what Mitt’s Advisor-in-Chief is really like. Does she rely on their shared Mormon faith for guidance? Does her multiple sclerosis give her a particular empathy for those without healthcare in our country? Does raising five sons mean she takes a keen interest in the education reform?
All signs point to yes, no, and no. She converted to Mormonism to marry Mitt when she was just 20 years old. She was his liaison for federal faith-based initiatives while he was governor of Massachusetts and spear-headed an abstinence based sex education program in the state. It is clear that the Romney’s joint faith is a key not only to their conservative policies but to the political machinations of the Republican party. Experiences like Ann’s only add to the conservative bona fides of her husband, universal healthcare in Massachusetts be damned.
Now might be a good time for a small but crucial digression. For all the accusations about socialism in the Obama administration, Mormonism is socialistic in nature, much like any organized church. Mormons require their adherents to tithe 10% of their income to the church, which then “redistributes” it primarily to its seat in Salt Lake City and its parishes, known as stakes. What is now known as Deseret Industries and is a thrift store not unlike Goodwill, began as food and clothing pantry for needy Mormons. Many Mormon families contributed their tithe in the form of preserves, canned goods, and clothing, which were then made available to Mormons who came upon hard times. No questions were asked, no payment was accepted; it was the unwritten rule that when you could give back, you did.
Think on that for a moment. From charity born out of the tight-knit Mormon tradition, to today’s discussion of welfare cuts and denial of unemployment benefits- how does that happen? I believe it comes from a bad case of the “Others”. Mormonism has always been considered a fringe religion, despite its nominal Christianity, which would of course breed a sense of being different from the outside world. Some might become insecure with their faith in the face of suspicion from outside, but those who maintained their faith became even more steadfast, more sure of their moral superiority. That’s where I believe we find Mitt and Ann today.
Born of wealth and privilege, they have no sense of what those who are looking to build brighter futures for our families must go through. The costs of education, childcare, gasoline and medical insurance are mere blips to those who think struggling through graduate school means living off the dividends of stock investments made decades earlier by the Governor of Michigan.
Do I think they are sympathetic? Sure. Empathetic? No way. Ann Romney has battled breast cancer and MS. Does she worry about her insurance not covering procedures? My friend had to start a Facebook campaign so her insurance company would continue to cover transfusions that have stonewalled her MS. Highly doubt Mrs. Romney needed to work the phones to get her senator involved in her health issues- after all, she was sleeping with the governor!*
Ann and Mitt’s five boys attended the private Belmont Hill School in Boston. As their father completed Harvard Law and Business schools and moved on to his lucrative career with Bain Capital, it is difficult to see how the Romneys might have given even a cursory glance to the public education system in their hometown, and Mitt’s plan emphasizing school choice over teacher quality and classroom size is the equivalent of putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound.
We can expect a few sure things from Ann on Tuesday night. Lots of talk about what a good man Mitt is. Some awesome anecdotes that I hope are as inadvertently hilarious as the dog on the car roof story. A touching tale told with perhaps with a single tear streaming down her face about Mitt’s steadfast commitment during her illnesses. The entire speech will be intended to connect- to humanize and make us feel something for Ann and Mitt that we haven’t yet before.
And that’s the problem – we feel something for them already. But they don’t feel a damn thing for us.
*this line is kinda rude. I apologize for it, but only a little bit.