(The Root) — While everyone will rant and rave over the Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s convention appearance, the speech that soared for the night was former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Rice hit the stage with a confidence not seen in any speaker outside of Ryan himself. As she delivered her vision for America, I found myself deeply conflicted. I’m aware of her role within the George W. Bush administration, yet her tone and angle, and the target of her words, made me want to root for her.
I disagreed with Rice’s undercover conservative ideology so much — but her framing was amazing. She was able to make ideas that I specifically detest palatable. After two nights of programming at the Republican National Convention that highlighted voices who consistently ignored who I am — voices that actively spoke over me and my community — Rice found the ability to take conservative thoughts and shape them for consumption by the masses.
This all made me wonder: Why couldn’t — or, better yet, why wouldn‘t — the rest of the GOP try to cater their messages to a wider audience?
When Mitt Romney spoke at the NAACP convention, he attempted to seem strong and uncompromising by ignoring the concerns of his black audience. When questioned on his dog-whistle language, Newt Gingrich claimed that MSNBC host Chris Matthews, who asked the question, was the racist for even addressing it. Rick Santorum maligned single mothers and preached traditional marriage on the first night of the convention. Over the past few weeks, the Republican Party has consistently not attempted to have a broad base appeal.
With disingenuous attacks linking Obama with gutting welfare reform, Birther jokes and a strong anti-immigrant platform, it was clear what the GOP desired to do. The New York Times highlighted the political strategy to target the working-class white vote — a fact that those of us paying attention already knew. Rice showed that it was possible not to insult the intelligence of large swaths of the nation with whom you disagree. Rice acted like the adult whom Chris Christie claimed he was going to be the night before. While I simply can’t support Rice’s political perspective, I can breathe a sigh of relief and realize I’m not crazy.
It is possible for someone with a different political ideology to still speak to me as if I am an American?
Elon James White is a writer and satirist and host of the award-winning video and radio series This Week in Blackness. Listen Monday to Thursday at TWIB.FM and subscribe on iTunes. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Tumblr.