Political conventions are scripted low-risk theater, so ideological platitudes and boilerplate appeals to party loyalty are to be expected.
Still, it's disheartening, listening to the GOP in Tampa, to hear speaker after speaker demean government itself, even as they seek to become part of it.
The "we built it" mind-set, was the theme of Tuesday's festivities, with obligatory and incessant twisting and mocking of President Barack Obama's recent comment that business owners should acknowledge the partnership role of government in allowing private enterprise to be creative and prosper.
The president's clear reference to government schools, infrastructure and even to the founding of the republic itself, is lost in a red-meat appeal to mythic individualism.
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Such references dovetail nicely with another Tampa staple, invoking fond memories of Ronald Reagan's famous question: "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"
It may make compelling short-term politics, but most voters recognize, as surely Mitt Romney must, that a careful balance of government support and, yes, regulation, creates a level playing field and protects the public interest. Businesses seek predictability and stability, not a Wild West unregulated market. Anyone who followed the banking crisis — the roots of which have yet to be addressed — surely agrees.
Instead of a cynical appeal to narrow self-interest, Americans might do better to remember the somewhat more challenging words of John F. Kennedy: "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."
Then we might all be better off four, 10, even 50 years from now.