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May 3, 2015

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Passion, soul and conventional wisdom

It is all about conventional wisdom.

Put another way, I would like to talk about what I learned from the recently concluded Republican and Democratic conventions because, after all, with the coming of the Labor Day weekend and the going of the national party conventions, now is the time when the voters start to pay attention. Or so I am told.

As the very proud father of my fabulous daughter, and now the adoring and doting grandfather of two of the most brilliant and unmatchable grandchildren (I sound like every other grandparent I know), it has long been my political position that tomorrow is no longer about me.

Instead, it is about the hopes and dreams and aspirations of my daughter’s generation, which she and her peers are perfectly capable of defining, and the long-term opportunities which this country will afford to my very little ones who have an expectation that I will act in their best interests.

This election is about how my wife and I define our responsibility and act upon it so that the blessings of this great country that have enriched our lives will be available to enrich those who follow.

So, what have we learned so far?

I watched the two conventions in color. There was a lot of it in Charlotte and, frankly, a lack of it in Tampa. That was unfortunate because the United States is a large and diverse country and that diversity was not evident amongst the GOP gathering. A missed opportunity, to be sure, but also a story line that is not lost on the millions of new Americans who have come to our country in search of their own American dreams.

I watched speech after speech at the Republican conclave and, while some of them made perfectly good and common sense to me, very few of them reached deep inside of me to touch the part of my being that makes me happy or sad, hopeful or worried, or even makes me cry, as a good movie often does.

For sure, there were some tender moments in Tampa, but by and large the GOP convention lacked the touching tenderness that these made-for-television shows have sought to achieve.

Some would say I am too much of a sap, and that may be true, but I heard some speeches at the Democratic convention that touched me deeply. There was the Blackhawk helicopter pilot who was shot down in combat. She walked out on stage wearing a skirt, beneath which were two prostheses where prior to her helicopter taking on enemy fire were once human legs. That was not her story, though. She talked about how her wounded crewmates dragged her to safety in the middle of enemy territory because they wouldn’t leave one of their own behind. And how, when they all returned physically and mentally worse for having gone, their president and commander in chief did not leave them behind, either. Hers was a story of how the president’s leadership has made a veteran’s life easier than it once was.

It was hard to listen to that woman who barely mentioned her obvious physical challenge talk about our country’s support of our veterans without some welling up. And it was also hard to miss the pride and gratitude that was evident on the faces of those men and women who were present in that convention hall who wore the campaign hats and uniforms of our veterans organizations.

I also will not soon forget the mother from Arizona telling the story of her young daughter who was born with a congenital heart problem; her husband was holding the 2-year-old on the stage while his wife spoke. The girl had already undergone two of the three necessary operations which would provide that young child a long and healthy life. The third procedure, which would not happen for another year or two, threatened to bankrupt the family because their family’s health insurance was capped and the future was, therefore, very uncertain.

That young mother told us how she listened to Gov. Mitt Romney speak the week before and heard him say that the best anyone had ever felt about President Barack Obama was that night in 2008 when they voted for him. That was far from the truth, according to her.

She told the audience that the best she felt about the president was when Obamacare was passed two years later and her insurance company wrote her a letter saying the lifetime insurance caps no longer existed. That meant the money would be there for her child’s life-saving operation. That, she said, was the best she felt about Obama. Cue the tears. Again.

I tried to understand the differences in the two conventions based on the personal human stories like the ones to which I have referred. And, did I mention the exceptional speech by the Georgetown Law student Sandra Fluke, who Rush Limbaugh verbally tried to destroy to the deafening silence of the Republican leadership?

And all of this is without attempting to include the outstanding dissertation on the economy, the presidency and the clear choice for voters that former President Bill Clinton gave Wednesday night. Exceptional is too light a term. It was so much more than that.

Long before I listened to the president’s acceptance speech, in which he laid out his vision for the coming years, I asked my wife and my daughter (my granddaughter was too busy watching Julie Andrews in “The Sound of Music”) what they thought the difference was between the two political conventions. They gave it to me in just a couple of words.

Passion and soul.

They are right. There is a clear choice for Americans to make when they decide in November what kind of country they want and want to live in.

The women in my life want to live in a country that has passion and exhibits soul.

So that is the new conventional wisdom.

Brian Greenspun is publisher and editor of the Las Vegas Sun.

Brian Greenspun is the publisher and editor of the Las Vegas Sun.

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  1. It's not conventional wisdom. It's just plain wisdom. Conventions are meaningless. Dinosaurs. Show and tell events. Entertainment with more sizzle than substance. Bring on the presidential and vice presdential debates. One on one with the gloves off. Lose the conventions, balloons, confetti, speeches, music, performances, celebrities, and hollywood personalities. Let's get down to business.


  2. A well written editorial by Mr. Greenspun and an eloquent follow up comment by Mr. Chapline.

    Unfortunately what both of them seem to forget is that leadership requires more than just "Passion and Soul". It requires a plan for success and the means to accomplish that plan.

    I'm sorry, but I can't get behind anyone whose plan is to respond to a 15% cut in revenue by increasing spending 25%. And then instead of being apologetic for this failure in (to quote Mr Clinton) "arithmetic", he defends it by saying that he would have spent more if his opponents hadn't blocked his attempts....but that they also blocked his plan to increase revenue (which would have been just under a 1.1% increase).

    So without opposition interference his plan seems to have been to respond to a 15% decrease in revenue with a MORE than 25% increase in spending, partially offset by a 1.1% increase in revenue.

    He can be just as passionate about a headlong race towards a cliff as he wants to be...I'm just not foolish enough to follow him.