Sunday, 9 September 2012

Great American dreams-ers and do-ers

In the run up to the US elections there’s hard campaigning amongst the candidates. The President incumbent is hoping to secure his second term and I for one hope he succeeds.

Mitt Romney has his merits but he is a man far removed from the people. His father, George Romney, was a well known business man and they lived in an affluent neighbourhood. Mitt Romney did not excel academically but money and privilege opened up many windows and doors of opportunity.

Romney is a Mormon. If you’ve ever had your Sunday mornings disturbed by the quietly spoken, doe-eyed, well dressed brigade of latter day saints then you’ll know that there’s nothing more ungodly than having your intelligence insulted by those who state the obvious…. “do you know that God loves you?”!!!

The Great Pretender
Romney’s father was the proverbial fat cat. I’m sure Mitt and his siblings did not want for much, including a successful role model. Being the poor little rich boy, Mitt was a bit of prankster and some of these have included dressing up as a police officer!!? Academic achievement wasn’t high on his list of priorities though he made good and obtained a law degree – impersonating an officer must have provided some inspiration.

As he was one for propagating the Mormon faith and converting the natives where do you think he chose to go……the jungles of Dijoubti, the intrepid Kalahari, the wilds of Borneo, pungent Punjab, mellow Mongolia…..actually the young Romney plumped for France! I guess there are souls to save in the developed world too!! Perhaps the comforts of strolling down the Champs-Elysees, cruising along  the Seine and sampling the viticulture of Bordeaux were reason enough.

However, Mitt has known hardship we’re told. He and his wife Ann, in the early days of their marriage lived in a basement flat. Really...a basement flat would seem luxurious to the newly married couples who have to share their parents’ home as they can't afford rent or mortgage.

Romney might have achieved the all American dream but, trust me, he had help. He had a hand and leg up and, no doubt, a silver spoon attached to it. A great example of how a rich man can get even richer if he plays his cards right. Can wealth be a disadvantage? Yes - if you're trying to pass yourself off as a servant of the people. 

Intelligent inspiration
Barack Obama is a man of the people, the people’s and poor person’s President. Until he became President he didn’t rub shoulders with any influential people. 

He was a small town boy of mixed race who had a burning vision planted in him. There was no role model for the young Barack as his parents had divorced when he was two. He only met his father briefly when he was ten years old. The abiding male presence in his life was his maternal grandfather. Behind every powerful man are two powerful women and, in Obama’s case, it happened to be his mother and grandmother. These women, though they lived in challenging times, were no wallflowers.

They were women who persevered. Ann Dunham, mother of Barack, married twice and divorced twice. Both marriages were inter-racial during a time when participants in such unions were ostracised. In his memoir: “ Dreams of my Father” Barack recalls how she encouraged him to develop a relationship with Barack Sr. by seeking out his Kenyan roots.Ann Dunham was the spark that gave birth to a soul on fire. Somehow she had the wisdom and uncommon sense to know that her son had a grand destiny.

Ann Dunham - she had a dream
She inspired Barack with academia -her own. Even as a single parent, she obtained a doctorate in Economic Anthropology and worked with poverty alleviation programmes involved in rolling out micro finance to poor villagers in Indonesia.  A powerful intellect made her the ultimate feminist -  strong willed and defiant - she didn’t need a man to lean on. She kept the faith in herself and her children.

She wasn’t just a dreamer but a doer. She carried on working amongst the poor and people say that she had more than an inkling that one or both of her children would do remarkable things. However, not even she could have predicted that her Barack was going to become America’s 44th President.

Barack Obama is the real deal and as Michelle, his wife, said recently: “he is the American Dream”. He has faced all of the challenges of ordinary and extra-ordinary people. He has empathy, transparency and fiery intelligence. His healthcare reforms, though unwelcome to his opponents, is based on the fundamental principles of life, liberty and happiness.

A family of do-ers
He’s not in it for the money but he’s in it to win it. He didn’t have to chase after fame and fortune; it came to him. It wasn’t an easy route but he wants to make the path to prosperity and progress easier for others.

He knows discrimination, despair, doubt as he’s lived it. He has more than a dream. It’s a vision of how great America can be. He’s a do-er so let him do it – please God -  in 2012.



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