This was in many respects a data-driven speech. Some may wish that Romney made a more ideological speech, but this emphasis on practical problem-solving may be a more effective response to the problems we face as a nation. Invoking ideological platitudes is not necessarily going to persuade the middle---or solve our troubles.
If this speech was not an act of nostalgia, it was an act of reminding. Romney reminded his listeners of a time of American prosperity, ambition, and opportunity. By pointing to the past successes of the United States (from the moon-landing to the opportunity provided to his father), Romney was able to summon up some warm feelings about America's past in order to inspire some hope for the present and future.
Romney's "humanization" is a theme the media has picked up and run with. I think the "humanization" imperative might have been a little overemphasized in media coverage, but this speech did show Romney more emotionally open than in the past. Romney's devotion to his parents, his wife, and his children radiated off the podium.
Two passages that stood out:
And that’s how it is in America. We look to our communities, our faiths, our families for our joy, our support, in good times and bad. It is both how we live our lives and why we live our lives. The strength and power and goodness of America has always been based on the strength and power and goodness of our communities, our families, our faiths.One of the implicit themes of this speech is the combination of opportunity and empathy. As this passage suggests, rising opportunity for every American also allows for a strengthening of community. Expanding economic options allow not simply for some selfish race to accumulate as much wealth as possible but instead provide a chance for individuals to involve themselves in their communities and in charitable enterprises. To wish for more opportunities for other Americans is to wish to help them; the opportunity to make the most of oneself is one of the greatest aids that can be found.
That is the bedrock of what makes America, America. In our best days, we can feel the vibrancy of America’s communities, large and small.
It’s when we see that new business opening up downtown. It’s when we go to work in the morning and see everybody else on our block doing the same.
It’s when our son or daughter calls from college to talk about which job offer they should take….and you try not to choke up when you hear that the one they like is not far from home.
It’s that good feeling when you have more time to volunteer to coach your kid’s soccer team, or help out on school trips.
The other passage:
President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. MY promise...is to help you and your family.A number of commentators picked up on this line (and not solely for the topic of "climate change"). It suggests an interesting localism, where Romney pledges to focus on the local problems of local Americans. The past decade of disappointment and decay has led to a sense of dislocation for many Americans. This emphasis on the local may be a way of trying to assuage this alienation.