By David J. Sussman
My wife, Sondra, and I frequently visit Tampa to spend time with family. After 20 years of visits, they tend to blur one into another. But I’ll never forget our most recent visit last week, as it included the privilege to attend the Republican National Convention in Tampa as a guest of the New York delegation. I was thrilled with what I saw.
My convention began Tuesday with a moving invocation delivered by Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveitchik, director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought at Yeshiva University, and a rousing call to action from our own former Senator Al D’Amato. Speech after speech, discussion after discussion made it clear just how high the stakes of this election are. Amidst the cheers, applause, patriotic songs, and streaming red, white, and blue, my most engaging and energizing moments came while listening to our party’s newest leaders.
The convention hall shook with roaring approval when Senator Marco Rubio, freshman Senator from Florida shared his vision of the American dream–a nation where anyone willing to share their skills and work ethic has the chance to succeed and the right to keep what they earn.
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez drew rapt attention when describing difficult choices she’s made, and one of her easier choices, of party affiliation, made the day she realized that her lifelong abiding faith in family and freedom, independence and individualism meant, of all things, that she was a Republican.
But the most electrifying speech of all, and a moment in time I know I and everyone in the room will always cherish, came when, Ted Cruz, someone I had never heard of before, stepped to the podium and voiced words I have always known, but could never fully state; about who we are as a nation, and why the values America was founded to advance are still worth fighting for.
At some point while listening to Cruz, I turned to my son, almost on reflex, and whispered: “He’s going to be our President one day.” And this was before I learned that Ted Cruz, a 41-year-old, soon-to-be-Senator from Texas, was already a respected constitutional scholar, with a laundry list of accomplishments.
I’ve followed and supported the Romneys since the early days of this election cycle. But seeing Mitt and Ann Romney up close expanded my respect for our Republican candidate and strengthened my resolve that he indeed could be and should be our nation’s next president.
It was especially important to hear his thoughts about Israel–of his strong stance on Israel’s sovereign right to defend her interests, and why America is right to stand ever-firm with our staunchest, closest, and most valuable ally in the Middle East.
Seeing these people–listening to their speeches and hearing them proclaim our values–made me proud to be a Republican and reaffirmed my pride in the United States and my hope that we will rededicate ourselves to the cause of liberty, and to be the America we were founded to be, all over again.