The Republican National Convention has trotted out a lot of the usual suspects to speak on behalf of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s run at the White House. They’ve had Condoleezza Rice, Rick Santorum and even Artur Davis, a Black Democrat turned Republican. But few speakers have shined as brightly as a relative no-name from Utah, a woman named Mia Love.
With a name that snappy, it makes perfect sense to get into politics. What also makes Love stand out, though, is her background: Born in Brooklyn to Haitian parents, Love ended up meeting and falling in love with a Mormon in Connecticut. Love converted to Mormonism, got married, moved to Utah and is now mayor of Saratoga Springs, a small town of about 16,000 in northern Utah. Love is now running for Congress against incumbent Democrat Jim Matheson. If she wins, she’ll be the first Black female Republican in Congress.
This is one of the most unique stories in American politics today, which is probably why the 37-year-old was such a standout at the convention.
Within days of giving her speech on Tuesday, Love was flush with about $100,000 in new donations for her campaign. One of the reasons her remarks were so appreciated, besides her obviously unique back story, was that Love made no bones about criticizing President Obama.
“President Obama’s version of America is a divided one, pitting us against each other based on our income level, gender and social status,” she said in her speech. “His policies have failed. We are not better off than we were four years ago, and no rhetoric, bumper sticker or campaign ad can change that.”
Love is free to believe and say whatever she wants about the president, but the intentions of a speech like that, from a Black woman, are pretty transparent. The GOP constantly bristles when people note, rightfully, that it’s a party dedicated primarily to the interests of wealthy white men. Republicans say that kind of dialogue is “divisive,” but their protestations are pretty toothless when they come from — you guessed it — wealthy white men. With people like Davis and Love speaking at the convention, the Republican establishment now has a small number of African-Americans on its side to lend credence to its claim that the Obama administration has been trying to tear America apart.
President Obama isn’t trying to divide America, of course, and he never was. But when it's only white Republicans saying it, the charge is a lot less weighty than when a Black woman like Love is saying it, too. Alas, it’s become a talking point among Republicans that if you mention inequality at all, you’re trying to cause a rift in society. But the rift is already there, and it’s made of income inequality, racism, sexism, homophobia and any number of other oppressions. Pointing out that rift isn’t the same as creating that rift, no matter how much Republicans like to believe their own hype.
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(Photo: Courtesy of FOX News)