Nov 06 2012
Fluffy and I threw caution to the wind yesterday and escaped to the nearby town of Fairfax, Virginia, to see Mitt Romney in action.
Truth be told, Mitt Romney has spent so much time in Virginia lately that a person would almost have to actively stay home in order to not be where he has been. I’ve had two opportunities to meet with Ann Romney (in a large group, one would assume), but I’ve declined both of them because they were billed as Ann Romney meeting women, and my chauffeur, Fluffy, is of the male persuasion.
We saw Mitt himself during the summer. “We” is the operative word, because I was sitting in a wheelchair in the back of the room and only saw the candidate from the forehead up. Fluffy, however, being mobile, got pictures for both of us.
And yesterday we had the opportunity to meet two of Mitt’s sons at the Romney headquarters almost within walking distance of our house, but we stayed away because it conflicted with church. As I said, the Romneys have pretty much taken up residence in the state of Virginia.
But when Fluffy and I learned about Monday’s rally, we thought we might want to go anyway. After all, this was his last Virginia visit before the election (with the election being today). When else were we going to get the opportunity to see him again?
So we got to work very early in the morning and then arranged our afternoon work schedules so we could take a long lunch and no one would miss us.
We left about two hours before the meeting started for what should have been a fifteen-mile drive. All I can say is, I was glad we did. After running into unexpected road construction and then getting caught in the Romney traffic jam, we finally got our seats at about two. There were free Romney footballs being given out to the first 500 guests. All I can say is I’m glad I wanted one of those footballs about as much as I wanted a goiter, because not only did we not get any; I didn’t see a single football in evidence the entire time we were there.
What we did see, was people. We saw young ones. We saw old ones. We saw people of all races. We saw veterans. We saw business owners (we could pick them out because a lot of them wore t-shirts that said, “Mr. President, you’re wrong. I did build this”).
When Mitt Romney finally took the lectern, I saw something I didn’t think I was going to see. He brought his wife with him. I thought the two were busy dividing and conquering, but apparently they decided to spend the last day of the campaign together. We got two for the price of one — and it was a real bargain because the tickets were free.
Ann Romney spoke first. She said there were just as many people who didn’t make it inside the George Mason University Patriot Center as there were those who were. We thought with that big a venue, everyone would get a seat. Apparently that was not the case.
Then she took a seat and her husband spoke. Most of it was the standard stuff you’d expect at a political rally, with Romney’s every sentence being interrupted by chants of “One more day!” by excited voters who waved signs and tiny American flags with great abandon. Romney supporters in the room were thrilled all the way down to their toenails. Obama supporters in the room (if there had been any) probably wouldn’t have been so excited.
Although the rally was just what you’d expect from a political rally, there were two things that stood out for me. The first was a statement by Romney himself, who thanked the people in the audience for voting for him. Then he said, “After the election is over, please go visit your neighbors who had signs for the other guy in their yards and renew your friendships with them.” He said the divisiveness in this country has gone on long enough. I don’t know about you, but I agreed with him 100 percent.
The second thing that impressed me was something that happened after the rally was over. The Romneys were whisked away, and Fluffy rolled me out to the car. Our car was one of the first cars out of the lot, but instead of turning left toward the highway, a traffic officer had us turn right. This little move probably doubled the length of our homeward trip. It was an absolute killer, and by the end of the journey we were not as temple-worthy as we had been before we made that ill-fated right turn.
However, I was glad we did have to make that right turn, because it caused us to see something that we otherwise never would have seen. Far away from the newspaper reporters or the television cameras, Mitt and Ann Romney went outside the back door of the Patriot Center and addressed the people out there who had not been able to get a seat. There were only a few hundred people left after all those hours, but both Romneys talked for just a couple of minutes to those diehard supporters, no doubt making them feel as though their trip to the university had not been wasted.
People define heroes by big acts of greatness. I think a hero can be just as accurately defined by the little things he does to make the world a better place. When Mitt Romney pleaded with his supporters to renew their friendships with those who voted for Obama, and when he spoke to a few straggling fans who had braved the chilly autumn weather just to stand for hours outside a building where he was speaking, those were things that said “hero” to me.