Fate placed a golden opportunity in the hands of Republicans last week.
Its name was Hurricane Isaac.
But both the Republican National Convention and Mitt Romney fumbled the ball in the fourth quarter.
What could have been a shining moment for conservatives to show their dedication to their country's most desperate citizens in a time of need, and to simultaneously set the stage for a successful win in November by pulling more voters to their side through high-profile acts of kindness and charity, has instead turned into yet another example of America's lack of dedication to itself... and the Republican Party's stumble is one that will inevitably cost them at the polls as a result.
Presidential advisers kept President Obama from visiting the area until Monday, and therefore it's easy to see why the current President did not have a firsthand influence or a presence in such publicity. Whether or not Democratic Party affiliates, charities and relief organizations had done any pre-planning for the disaster or were ready to converge on the hardest-hit areas following Isaac's actions is unclear as well.
But Mitt Romney was there. He showed up on Friday--something that should have been a big plus for his campaign efforts and which should have put the Republican Party in a good light. Romney beat the President to Louisiana. Romney was in a prime position to act. He had the ability, then and there, to make an immediate difference in people's lives--pre-election. He had nothing to lose and a lot to gain by showing his support of his fellow citizens. His immediate reaction to visit Louisiana should have placed him in a positive light, showing him worthy of taking responsibility for his country as a whole after November 2012.
The problem is... Romney did nothing.
He provided no immediate financial or material assistance. There were no relief services accompanying him with food, water, clothing, medical supplies, cots or other desperately-needed items by residents displaced by the flood waters. Nor were there any promises or even insinuations afterwards that the Republican politician would directly offer any help itself.
In a BBC article describing his one-hour tour of the affected areas and residents, Romney was quoted as saying:
"I'm here to learn and obviously to draw some attention to what's going on here, so that people around the country know that people down here need help."
"He just told me to, um, there's assistance out there," resident Jodie Chiarello said. "He's good. He'll do the best for us, you know. He speaks to our best interests at heart."
According to the Huffington Post, Romney also told Chiarello, "go home and call 211" (the public service phone number).
Bear in mind that Chiarello's quote was "He'll do the best for us"... not "he's DOING the best for us."
Words, not deeds.
Mitt Romney's failure to deliver anything other than handshakes and smiles while visiting National Guardsmen and a small percentage of residents during a one-hour visit is disturbing. He had just come from one of the most highly-financed and heavily-publicized conventions of the year, where the cost to build the RNC's stage alone was priced at $2.5 million US dollars (1,575,646,803 GPB), and yet he had nothing to give to the poor or the homeless. In fact, his visit did not even take him to hospitals or temporary-relief shelters, where he could have fully realized the situation that he was "touring."
This subject has pretty much been buried by both sides of the press, and speculation is all that can accompany the Democratic Party's lack of immediate action at presenting a level of assistance that everyone knew would be necessary.
But it is the lack of community action on the part of the RNC, who sat in an ideal position--at the very least, as a mass group of witnesses to Hurricane Isaac's weaker effects--that stands out more strongly than any signs of inaction from the Democrats. It is said that they offered prayers and donations, but there is no telling how long it will takes such donations to make their way through the system (after each charity has taken their percentage away, processed the money and channeled it to specific needs). And prayers cannot clothe someone who has lost their home in a flood, nor feed someone who must rely on the stretched-thin resources of a food bank; during an election year, donations are channeled towards presidential candidates, not charities.
In this critical year, Romney was strategically located, both geographically and financially, to offer immediate aid in the face of a natural disaster. And he beat the President to the punch, so to speak, by visiting the area first... yet no efforts towards relief were generated for the hard-hit communities in either his name or his party's name.
At a moment in time when the Republican Party could have stood up and said, "We are here for America" and proven it through their actions, their leader offered only lip service. It is enough to make one pause and wonder if the Republicans truly have a vested interest in assisting their country and its citizens, and wish to build a better country by establishing a sense of community and communication, or if gaining the White House seat is simply a trophy for them to be won.
Now the ball is in the Democrat's hands. And for the sake of the American people as a whole, one can only hope they will recognize the value of DEEDS... not words. For if they cannot, then America has truly lost its way and its ability to take care of its own.