As a lifelong Democrat who loves President Barack Obama, I was inspired beyond belief by his stirring speech Thursday night to the DNC. He was eloquent, powerful, and moving. He brought me back to the hope and promise of 2008 and made me want four more years.
But as much as I loved everything he had to say, I also wanted to know what Mitt Romney, his opponent from my home state, had to say. We hear a lot about differences and diametrically opposed political beliefs in this election cycle. But we also keep hearing about cooperation and bipartisanship. Well boys, I have some news for you: You both want the same thing.
Don't believe me? Look at a side by side comparisons of their speeches. What they say is almost the same. They just disagree on how to get there.
President Obama said:
... On every issue, the choice you face won't just be between two candidates or two parties. It will be a choice between two different paths for America, a choice between two fundamentally different visions for the future ...
More from The Stir: Barack Obama’s Mythical DNC Speech Makes Me Want a Unicorn
He's right. They are two different visions. I see his. But I can also respect that he and Romney want the same things. See part of Obama's speech below:
My grandparents were given the chance to go to college and buy their home — their own home and fulfill the basic bargain at the heart of America's story, the promise that hard work will pay off, that responsibility will be rewarded, that everyone gets a fair shot and everyone does their fair share ...
And here's the same vision of America ... from Romney:
Every family in America wanted this to be a time when they could get a little ahead, put aside a little more for college, do more for the elderly mom that's now living alone. Or give a little more to their church or their charity. Every small business wants to have this be their best year ever, when they could hire more, do more for those who had stuck with them through hard times.
OK, so we are in agreement there. But then we somehow rapidly diverge. Obama says:
... All they have to offer is the same prescriptions they've had for the last 30 years. Have a surplus? Try a tax cut. Deficit too high — try another. Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations, and call us in the morning.
Obama wasn't joking. Just look at Romney's speech. He says:
... we will champion small businesses, America's engine of job growth. That means reducing taxes on business, not raising them. It means simplifying and modernizing the regulations that hurt small businesses the most, and it means we must rein in skyrocketing cost of health care by repealing and replacing Obamacare.
On energy, the two are starkly divided. We have Mitt Romney's (vague) vision:
... By 2020, North America will be an energy independent by taking full advantage of our oil, our coal, our gas, our nuclear, and renewables.
And Obama's clear and sustainable one:
After 30 years of inaction, we raised fuel standards so that by the middle of the next decade, cars and trucks will go twice as far on a gallon of gas. We have doubled our use of renewable energy, and thousands of Americans have jobs today building wind turbines and long-lasting batteries. In the last year alone, we cut oil imports by 1 million barrels a day, more than any administration in recent history. And today the United States of America is less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in the last two decades.
Obama's plan on education is clearly laid out:
... Help me recruit a hundred thousand math and science teachers within 10 years and improve early childhood education. Help give 2 million workers the chance to learn skills at their community college that will lead directly to a job. Help us work with colleges and universities to cut in half the growth of tuition costs over the next 10 years.
While Romney's is vague and strange. "Choice" sounds an awful lot like championing the $40,000 a year school Romney sent his own children to while they lived in Boston.
We will give our fellow citizens the skills they need for the jobs of today and the careers of tomorrow. When it comes to the school your child will attend, every parent should have a choice, and every child should have a chance.
We also ended with the same vision for our future. From Romney, we have:
I will work with all my energy and soul to restore that America, to lift our eyes to a better future. That future is our destiny. That future is out there. It is waiting for us. Our children deserve it. Our nation depends on it. The peace and freedom of the world require it. And with your help we will deliver it. Let us the begin that future for America tonight.
America, I never said this journey would be easy, and I won't promise that now. Yes, our path is harder, but it leads to a better place. Yes, our road is longer, but we travel it together. We don't turn back. We leave no one behind. We pull each other up. We draw strength from our victories. And we learn from our mistakes. But we keep our eyes fixed on that distant horizon knowing that providence is with us and that we are surely blessed to be citizens of the greatest nation on earth.
Hmmm ... To me, the differences in the speech were stark and obvious. Though we all do have the same vision of the US -- a place where hard work is rewarded, we all compromise and get along, and there is a chance for upward mobility -- we clearly differ vastly on our visions for how to get there.
I am going with the guy who gave me a clear path. As Obama said, it might be the harder one. But it's the righteous one and the one that will make us stronger in the future. As always, Obama is playing the long game. Short-term solutions aren't what will really sustain this country.
Who did you think had the stronger speech?
Image via aflcio/Flickr