But that's the thing. Both speeches were a lot of talk. A lot of rhetoric, patriotism, jokes, bluster, criticism of the other party that, depending on your viewpoint, could be deemed more opinion than fact. Truth is, while I might listen to every word, lets face it... a lot of Americans just get caught up in the whirlwind of language.
So I took the text of both the RNC and DNC keynotes, and cut out the patriotism, the bluster, the vague promises, the long-winded biographies, and biased lines about the other party’s views. I took out the things they promised NOT to do (because it's easy to say what you won't do, what you WILL do instead is a harder question to answer.) I was also careful to take out everything that seemed like more of a statement of principle or belief rather than a statement of definitive action. Because ultimately, despite wildly different belief systems, what happens in the next four years will come down to ACTIONS, not words. What actions do Romney and Obama find so important that they felt the need to mention them so clearly in their most important speech?
Behold, the specific, actionable proposals made by each candidate in their convention speeches--in their own words--edited only for grammar and readability.
-Cut taxes for middle-class families and small businesses.
-Reward companies that open new plants, train new workers and create new jobs in the United States of America.
-Open new acres for oil and gas exploration.
-Invest in wind and solar and clean coal.
-Commit to Israel’s security and pursue peace.
-Use the money we’re no longer spending on war to pay down our debt and put more people back to work rebuilding roads and bridges; schools and runways.
-Reform the tax code so that it’s simple and asks the wealthiest households to pay higher taxes on incomes over $250,000.
-Take full advantage of North American oil and coal and gas and nuclear and renewables.
-When it comes to the school your child will attend, every parent should have a choice.
-Reduce taxes on business. Simplify regulations.
-Protect the sanctity of life.
-Honor the institution of marriage.
So there you have it. It seems a lot simpler once you get rid of the fluff, no?
Both Romney and Obama want to increase the amount of energy produced in the U.S., but Obama believes renewable energy should be a large part of that, Romney believes that traditional energy resources like coal, oil, gas and nuclear power are the only way to go--he pointedly mocked the fight against global warming.
Obama wants to reduce taxes on the middle class while raising taxes on people making over $250,000. Romney wants to reduce taxes on businesses.
Obama wants to reward companies that keep jobs in America (presumably through tax breaks or incentives). Romney wants to "simplify regulations," which, while vague, indicates that he's up for repealing current laws intended to protect the environment, assure public safety, or limit potential fraud or financial abuse-- laws that might hurt a company's profit margin.
Obama wants to use money saved by ending the wars to "nation build" at home and thereby stimulate construction jobs. Romney wants to save money by ending "Obamacare." While he says he'll replace it, in this speech he's vague about what that replacement will be.
Obama made it a point to say commitment to Israel and the peace process must not waver. Romney made it a point to promote a voucher program to give families a choice of which school to send their child to.
Finally, Romney was very clear and emphatic near the end of his speech when he spoke on social issues. A law against abortion (although he did not say whether it would contain an exemption for rape victims or anything else). A law against gay marriage.
These are the things the candidates were most unequivocal about... and they seem a good indicator of what actions they would take while in office.