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Connecting The Dots … What Did We 'Hear' From Clinton?

Bill Clinton's subliminal message to the DNC was to move away from rigorous ideology and refocus to compromise on practical solutions that move America forward.

Perhaps it’s because I watched my first political convention on my mother’s knee in 1956 (despairing over JFK’s failed VP bid), but I am disappointed by the reduced convention coverage.  That may make me old fashioned, but there is so much to learn, especially if you are a political junkie.

This year’s conventions are excellent examples. They have helped to connect the dots that I have been wondering about for a while, and helped answer these questions regarding this most significant election of my lifetime:

  • What do you want America to be?
  • What do we deserve from government?

For example, at least for me, the controversy regarding the party platforms provided interesting insights. Democrats were outraged by the Republicans position on right to life. Despite Mitt Romney’s personal belief that exceptions must be made in cases of rape, incest, and threat to the mother’s life, the hard-core conservatives included a plank that provided no exceptions. This was an embarrassment.

On the Democrat side, even though the platform had been pre-approved by President Obama, when word got out that the Democrats had removed all mentions of God, and had backed away from Israel by deleting reference to Jerusalem as its Capital, there was such a blowback that Obama ordered that they be reinserted. Being seen as a Godless, anti-Israel party suddenly did not seem like a good idea. But, this only outraged the activist delegates who had written it into the platform. God was booed three times. Only after what can be charitably described as an undemocratic political tactic from another country, the chair declared that the God and Jerusalem amendment had passed with a 2/3 voice majority, even if the “No’s” sounded louder. 

Very embarrassing.

So, here’s the revelation. Both parties have been co-opted by their most radical elements, and in the process they have pulled the Country apart. Is this partisanship or bullying, or just unreasonable and even un-American? Who put these extremists in charge anyway? Let’s be honest, what percentage of voters would really want a complete elimination of a woman’s right to choose?  Conversely, what percentage of voters really believes that late term abortions and partial birth abortions are morally acceptable?  The same is true about our belief in God. Mindful that the foundation of the Declaration of Independence is that our rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are derived from Nature and our Creator, how many voters would really opt to delete all references to God as part of our American culture?

And yet here we are, a country where the sum of the parts is dangerously less than the whole, where the extremists from each Party have drowned out the calmer voices. Is this what we want America to be?  Is this the kind of government and political discourse that we deserve? We the people must accept the blame for this, until we demand more and elect better.

Which brings me to former President Bill Clinton.

Let’s stipulate that Clinton has a very complex relationship with America. On the positive side he is bright person and a master politician. On the other side, well … there is the other side.  Nevertheless, all politicians should take note of the way that Clinton communicates with the people - discussing, not orating, framing complicated issues in conversational language, all the while taking charge and maintaining control, and making us feel confident that he is. 

So what did we “hear” Clinton say as a subtext to his endorsement that we must consider before we vote? Clinton’s career provides some insight. At 32, he was the nation’s youngest governor, and at 34 he was the youngest ex-governor. When he was subsequently re-elected, he was more prepared to listen and very ready to compromise. Success followed. A similar thing happened after he was elected President. His first two years were tumultuous over healthcare. Disappointed voters punished him by turning congress over to the Republicans in the mid-term elections.  Once again, Clinton had to adapt, become more Centrist, and learn to better understand what Republicans were thinking and needing to get things done. Once again, success followed.  Bi-partisanship, what a concept!  Clinton owned it. Reagan too!

Wasn’t that precisely what Clinton was saying when he remarked that, “Nobody’s right all the time, and a broken clock is right twice a day.”  Wasn’t he urging politicians to find the right balance - to listen more openly and empathetically, to hear more clearly, to compromise more often, and to deliver practical solutions?

For too long we have had to endure the shrill of the loudest, most ideological partisans of each party. But this “all or nothing” approach is not what the majority of Americans want. It has gotten us nowhere. We want moderate, sensible and fair. We want practical, not ideological. We want to believe that if we are not getting our preferred result, that we are at least not getting screwed either.  And, I believe that we want government to balance its obligations and its desire to provide social programs, with the ability to responsibly pay for them.

The subliminal message to America, from someone as clever and as narcissistic as Clinton, is that we the people must choose the candidate who is better prepared to lead in the same way that Clinton learned to lead America.  We have seen Obama and now know him to be an ideologue, not a centrist. His acceptance speech, after all, only promised more of the same – hardly good enough. Romney’s private sector experience is much more practical, and better suited for the specific economic needs of America right now.  And, his experience running a State where 85% of the legislators were Democrats proved that he is a results-focused centrist, a compromiser and not an ideologue. 

Despite all the noise and the rhetoric, I “heard” Clinton tell America to elect Romney.

So, I ask once again, what do you want America to be?  What kind of government do we deserve?  Is what we have good enough, or are you ready to make a change? There are only 60 shopping days left until the election.  It’s time to decide what we want and who has the better capacity to lead.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Ron Goodenow September 17, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Ok, last comment. Jim, you guys are always citing Reagan. I was using him as an example of someone who was far more diplomatic than Romney when our country was in trouble and awash in currents over which we have little control...ditto for the Democratic response after his disaster in Lebanon -- and the amazing pass the Democrats gave Bush when he got us into war the way he did. I cite the racism because of Tupelo (and wanted anti-Reaganites who read this to know I am not giving him a complete pass; he played the Southern Strategy race card, that is still being played, to the hilt). This said, Reagan's economic policies would not be acceptable to your party now in my opinion. As for comments about Michelle Obama you must surely be totally zoned or think we are utter fools if you haven't heard Rushbo and other spokespeople for the GOP go after her without mercy because of her stand on health issues (but then Rushbo, ole pill and doctor shopper, goes after folks with Parkinsons). Unlike Obama's world tour and attention in Europe Romney did a pandering snoozer that was a disaster. Just ask British conservatives or look at the polls in Israel. The guy didn't even try to work up a crowd. Even President Bush could go to Eastern Europe and draw adoring crowds. As for being persistent or exhausting, don't you think this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black????? LOL. Oh, and McCain was just parroting Mr. Dooley on beanbag.
Jim Hatherley September 17, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Look ... my blog is about what I write. I blame nobody for anything next to my name, and i take accountability for what I write to respondents, some as angry as you seem to be. I did not mention Ronald Reagan - your straw man for some reason (which we can guess); Nor do I ever mention Michelle Obama. I have brought up JFK in prior blogs and he would be a person non grata in today's Democrat Party, especially when he would dare raise the question of people not asking what America found do for them ... The anger of liberals that I experience daily on my blogs can be a bit breathtaking. Believe me, we all get it - you are a liberal. You are angry. And you do not agree with me. I can live with that, and I hope you can as well. Once again, no need to respond - you frighten off more moderate people who dare not post in for fear of the personal attack. And as always, all the best.
Ron Goodenow September 17, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Ok, one last final ho ho ho. When you run a blog you run the possibility that folks will disagree and chose arguments they want to use, whether you like them or not. Whether you cheaply psychologize them into anger or not. If you saw the emails and comments I get from 'moderates' and even Republicans who read your stuff you might be in for a rude shock. I agree that people do not want to post if they are accused of being irrational, angry or whatever it is you're suggesting so maybe by doing that to me I will just disappear and what you will get is lovey dovie from true believers.. You claim to be representing a local political party as its chairperson and so many of us respond in terms of what we, sometimes with real difficulty, are trying to figure out what it is you and the organization you represent stand for. As I have said I am liberal on some things, conservative on others, and libertarian on others. That may be hard to believe, but don't confuse it all with some sickness liberals apparently suffer from.
Jim Hatherley September 17, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Ron, I claim to be representing myself, and only myself. The Patch asked me to post to balance the political viewpoints, and required the same profile as you provided. Heck, I would far more prefer to be identified as author of, "Daring To Be Different, A Manager's Ascent To Leadership" and sell some books. But, just as I readily accept challenges to what I write, "straw" arguments like the Reagan as new-born racist and Ann Romney as accountant for her husband can be called to account as well. But hey, if "moderates" are complaining to you of things I write, they are probably not really moderate at all. And Republicans? C'mon.
Ron Goodenow September 17, 2012 at 06:48 PM
OK Jim. I think we have both made our points. Obviously, we are both political junkies of a certain kind and that leads to strong stuff. But as you quoted McCain, who quoted Dooley, none of this is beanbag. . When I was younger there were two major Republican influences in my family....one a 'like Ike' military officer who was deeply dedicated to conservation, clean air, minimal US global mucking about and very libertarian views....the other loved Hitler and the KKK. Several years ago I left the Democratic Party, and have hoped a true centrist GOP would emerge that resembled one of those influences. Alas, I do not see that anywhere. I do see a lot of anger and hatred....and much is on the right today. You won't get many moderates until that is gone. We can have a long discussion about Reagan some time. I studied his papers at the Hoover Institution and when I was on the US North Atlantic Council committee (NATO group that let me in....) got to know some of his people. I actually admire some things (but not all, of course) he did on the foreign policy front and only wish his party had supported him when he was talking heavy duty disarmament with Gorby. To this day I don't think he had very many prejudiced bones in his body, but I always felt the Tupulo thing was a big mistake. Your book looks like an interesting one. I read that literature a great deal at one time and was interested in your mosaic (or matrix?) concept, which is a useful one.

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