Mitt the Magnificent
There is something about success that inspires the humble and annoys the prideful. Those who know they can never achieve another’s feats, can either celebrate that fact for the other, or mourn it for themselves. Mitt Romney is one of those people whose story is bound to have this effect on America as we are fully introduced to him over the coming months, and possibly years.
You can measure a person’s life based on their professional success, their family life, their community and religious activity, or personal integrity and virtue, among other things. Whichever of these standards you choose, he seems to have been given, as well as worked hard to create, a life that would be the envy of almost anyone.
A short glance at any of these areas of Mr Romney’s life, starting with his professional career, shows his magnficent ability to make almost anything he touches a success. Now, when I tell you that he was born in Detroit, you may assume that the previous sentence must have been hyperbole. Those from my generation aren’t fully aware though, that at one time Detroit was the engine (pun intended) of America’s economic success. It was a place full of money, power, and new ideas, and Mitt was born right into the midst of it all.
His father, George Romney, made himself incredibly wealthy in business. His most notable accomplishment was running American Motors, a second-tier auto-manufacturer that was able to chip away at some of the Big Three’s control over the American market. Being raised by a hard-working businessman, who later gained political prowess as Michigan’s governor, left its mark on the young Mitt.
After being raised in the wealthy Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills, he did a two year mission in France for the Mormon church. When he returned, he worked on getting his bachelors at Brigham Young, dual law and business degrees from Harvard, and was married to long-time girlfriend Ann Davies. With all the pieces in place, he got to work on his business career. Mitt was hired by the financial consulting business Bain and Company, eventually becoming the CEO. He then co-founded a related enterprise called Bain Capital, making it one of the most successful private-equity investment firms in the nation.
So as not to hide this success in confusing business jargon, let me break that down for you. His company funded or purchased companies, and made them profitable. Many of his successes are now household names, like: Domino’s Pizza, Toys “R” Us, Staples, Sports Authority, Dunkin’ Donuts, Burger King, Burlington Coat Factory, Sealy and many others. I have seen entire strip-malls that could have just had a sign over them saying “Romney-ville.” Some have tried to hold this against him, with concerns that his wealth and success have made him out of touch with the common man, but the fact is, he has created more jobs for the average American than almost anyone else in the country.
Another anger-inducing part of this man’s success is his family. There have been no trips to “the Appalachian Trail” with South American mistresses, no young-interns coming forward with stained dresses, and no sneaking around on his wife when she had breast cancer. This boringly-pure family-life leaves little ammo for his detractors. Some feminists are frustrated though, by the traditional character of the marriage and think this proves both he and his “unambitious” wife are throwbacks to a simpler, more repressed time.
One such commentator actually caused a controversy recently for voicing that opinion. For Mrs Romney to raise a family of five boys, while dealing with Multiple Sclerosis and breast cancer, makes her unable to connect with any real women apparently, since she “has never worked a day in her life” in the real world. That’s right, raising a family isn’t work.
But look at all the happy faces in this large crowd of a family. Is there any doubt that he loves this crew and somehow even knows them all by name? Mitt’s love for his family and devotion to his wife is noted in Vanity Fair’s hit-piece called “The Dark Side of Mitt Romney.” His crime? Loving his wife too much it seems. The article, conveying a conversation they had with his son Tagg, said “there was one rule that was simply not breakable: ‘We were not allowed to say anything negative about my mother, talk back to her, do anything that would not be respectful of her.’ On Mother’s Day, their home would be fragrant with lilacs, Ann’s favorite flowers.” Horrific.
This large, happy family is nauseating for those who hate all that it is “old fashioned” but the fun and love of a large family is something many modern people have been deprived of, and in my opinion, to their detriment. Quiet homes with one or two children, and often only one parent, are now the norm. So seeing this older ideal lived-out can bring out the envy just as much as with his professional success.
His community and religious devotion is just as impressive. While America’s religious involvement and community spirit seem to have taken a huge hit due to technology and secularization, Mitt the Magnificent bucks the trend. Not only did he spend two years of his young adulthood overseas as a missionary, but he has remained loyal to that faith over the years. Out of the immense fortune he amassed, he dutifully tithed 10% or more without fail.
Also, Mitt moved up the leadership ladder, becoming a ward bishop (similar to a priest) and eventually a stake president (the equivalent of a Catholic bishop). For Mitt to unabashedly display himself as happily and devotedly religious, equally enrages many. He is one of those who refuses to be enlightened out of his faith and into America’s pervasive secular hedonism. At least he could just use his religion as an election tool like most politicians, but no, he actually lives this stuff.
The effect of this faith on his habit of doing good for his fellow-man is undeniable. When Mitt was waiting for a photo shoot during his 2008 presidential run, it was a hot day and the set-up was taking longer than expected. The staffer, at whose house they were waiting, offered Mitt the shade of the garage. Half an hour later, when the scene was appropriately prepped, they found Mitt in a much cleaner environment. Shockingly, Mitt had swept the entire garage and organized a few wayward items, much to the delight of said staffer. Many high-profile politicians might see it as beneath their dignity to pick up a broom and sweep their staffer’s garage, to those who know him though, that’s just Mitt.
Below is another of many stories, that Mr Romney generally tries to keep private, of his drive to love his neighbors through sacrifice and service. Again, he seems frustratingly without any major character flaw.
The last measurement of success, his personal integrity and virtue, has by now been well-covered. What man could create such success for himself in his business dealings, his family life, and his religious and community life, without these characteristics. Some want to insinuate that he was handed all these things by a wealthy father, like he is some male-version of Paris Hilton, but a stable family-life can’t just be handed to you. Success in business or leadership in your community cannot either. You have to work for these things and gain people’s trust, no matter how you started-out.
Mitt Romney is in essence the image of the American Dream. When you work hard, play by the rules and take your own life by the horns, good things will come.
Some may see his Mormon faith as outside of the American mainstream, and it may be, but this religion is, if anything, American exceptionalism on steroids. Can you really call a faith un-American that believes the Garden of Eden is in Jackson County, Missouri? It is actually the only major world religion to be founded in the United States. I mean, their founding prophet’s name was Joe Smith. They may seem a bit old-fashioned to some of us, but un-patriotic or un-American? Not by a long shot.
Mitt truly believes in what made this country great. He really believes in the American free-market system, and succeeded in it. He believes in the importance of family and civic duty, and has acted accordingly there as well. He is really the summation of all the values traditionally held up as important in this country. Those who see him as out of mainstream only do so in the belief that he is an almost cartoonish image of the America that we have “progressed” past. But that is the America that many of us want. We want the America of hard work and good morals, not of debt, dependence, and mindless entertainment.
It can only help our country to re-infuse some of those old traditions back into the mainstream, and if anyone can do it, Mitt Romney is a good candidate (pun also intended). Besides that, I cannot think of anyone in our history that is as qualified to take on this position. And this following someone with almost no qualifications other than one partially-completed term in the US Senate.
Mitt has been a faithful husband, a loving father and grandfather, one of the greatest businessmen of his generation, the Governor of Massachusetts, a community servant, the Mormon equivalent of a Catholic bishop, manager of the US-hosted Winter Olympics, and has somehow emerged out of a large circus of rivals to be the Republican presidential nominee. It seems all he touches is gold, and if we can get over how annoying that is, we could really use Mitt the Magnificent to lead us in this important moment in history. I doubt there is anyone better equipped for the job.