Fighting against every natural urge in my body, I sat through the entire Republican National Convention (RNC) last week, watching the speeches every night. Aside from the excessive wearing of cowboy hats and the cheesy "Raisin' McCain" theme song, it wasn't as bad as I thought.
I actually learned a lot.
I learned that many Republicans care about the same things Democrats do. There are people in both parties who love God, want economic prosperity, and desire an educational system that can compete with any other nation's.
However, I was highly disappointed by the RNC, not for what was said, but for what was not said.
Despite having the better part of the week to express their platform, the party failed miserably in addressing the issues that matter.
Speakers like Joe Liberman and Rudy Giuliani spent their time on the podium taking vicious swipes at Barack Obama. I would have liked to have heard something about what plans the Republican Party has for addressing the millions of people losing their homes.
Sarah Palin introduced herself to the world last week, which was to be expected. However, I would have liked to have heard more about her 'Plan B' if John McCain were to expire, less about her being a loving, hockey-mother-of-five, and much less about how unfair and liberal the media is.
She talked about accessing oil reserves off the coast of Alaska, but it is only a Band-Aid, if it doesn't eventually lead to energy exploration and the development of renewable energy sources. I would have liked to have heard her ideas about what incentives the party would give to scientists willing to do the research, engineers willing to lay the railroad tracks, and automakers willing to 'kick gas.'
There were some glimmers of substance in McCain's acceptance speech. I respected the fact that, of all the speakers at the RNC, he was the first to acknowledge that "corruption" in the Republican party is partially responsible for our current state of affairs.
While the story of McCain's time as a prisoner-of-war has been repeated ad nauseam, his personal account of how the experience made him a better person offered a new perspective on the subject.
However, the big, pink elephants in the room -- our failing health care system and failing housing market -- were never mentioned at any time in the speech. Those subjects were drowned out by blindly patriotic, meaningless, bumper-sticker phrases such as, "Country First," and "Drill Baby, Drill."
How about "Veterans First?"
One of my biggest criticisms of the Republican Party is that they have constantly paraded their love of veterans, but when it comes time to deliver services, the help is never there.
Anyone who has been to a VA (Veterans Affairs) hospital lately knows that most veterans have to fight, tooth and nail, to receive basic care for life-altering injuries, usually acquired in the service of their country.
What about "Health First?"
Right now, a major bout of sickness can erase your American dream, even if you are insured. I would vote for a Republican who could assure me that no mother would have to cut their diabetes medications in half in order to send their son to college, like mine did.
So far, however, the GOP has suggested that we figure out the problem ourselves.
The job of the government is to intervene in matters which the average person can't solve by themselves. The RNC gave me no indication that the GOP is willing to meet the average person halfway.
We need solutions in order to move the country forward. That's the 'straight talk' I'm still waiting to hear.
Joel Hall covers government and politics for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.