RNC should focus on ideas not insults

Martin Chang, Opinions and Features Editor

Watching the Republican National Convention was the first time I ever turned off the television in anger.

I started watching on the first full day on Aug. 28. At first it seemed OK, Mia Love compassionately spoke about the American Dream, about how her parents grew up as immigrants and “didn’t look to Washington, but looked within.”

A great way to state the small government versus big government conflict that is at the core of the fight between the two parties.

But Reince Priebus before her, and almost all the speakers after her, started saying something odd, something insulting to all democrats and especially Barack Obama.

They insinuated both subtlety and in plain words that Obama didn’t believe in the American Dream.

I didn’t know about the “you didn’t build that” quote so whenever a speaker would hurl that insult I was confused. The serious accusation of not believing in America seemed to come out of nowhere.

After Love, the speakers started to blend, each one had the same story of building a small business, not relying on the government, and then suggesting that this story of making something out of yourself is somehow exclusively Republican.

After hearing things like “an all-out assault on free enterprise,” I figured there was a good reason behind this attack.

“Why are all the speakers saying this?” I wondered to myself. Then I saw the political ad that explained it.

It showed, once again, another small business owner telling his rags to riches story while playing the ‘you didn’t build that’ quote. I could even tell in the ad that the quote was taken wildly out of context.

This is what they were basing their entire convention on? They were attacking him again and again for one quote? This is what makes Obama anti-American? I was incredulous.

Then my incredulity turned to anger as I heard Kelly Ayotte tell the same story of “the sleepless nights” of the “hard work and sacrifice” of owning a small business. It was clear that the Republicans wanted to tell this story, but how many times do you have to hear it?

Then Jack Gilchrist and Mary Fallin told their nearly identical story of small business and how Obama doesn’t believe in it.

Their accusations just made me more and more angry, as now I knew that their insults were based on nothing more than a misplaced word and the simple difference between Republicans and Democrats and their views.

Then, I saw a second ad that featured the same quote and the same, now cliché, story about small business. That’s when I turned off the television in disgust.

It’s too bad because when they focused on the actual ideas of being a conservative and Republican, they actually were quite effective.

Chris Christie told the compelling story of how Republican ideas turned the state of New Jersey around.

When Paul Ryan tells out-of-work college graduates that the Republican way can get them a job, it could speak to that famously liberal group. When Romney and others speak of the sky-high debt and worsening economy, they make a sensible argument of using their conservative ideas of deregulation and tax cuts to tackle these problems.

But every time the right says that Obama doesn’t believe in America, they are focusing on anger and hate not ideas.

To me, that is what currently defines the Republican party, and they proved to me in Florida that is still a big part of what they are going to be.