Words used to describe Mitt Romney during the 2012 presidential election:
I think that pretty much sums it up.
Romney was painted by many as a rigid, uptight, elitist who lived out of touch with the rest of society. And that couldn’t be his real hair, could it? Is it plastic? A wig made from the fur of many lap dogs?
That’s the Romney we all know and frankly, didn’t care too much for.
The cover of Greg Whiteley’s new documentary Mitt, features the former presidential nominee in what seems like an odd picture. Romney’s hair is disheveled, wildly combed to the side with an edge of flair on top. The photo looks less like Robot Romney and more like Bed Head Romney.
In many ways, this cover image encapsulates the entire tone of Mitt. Whiteley isn’t looking to examine Romney’s perfect combover—his public persona—but the man behind the hair. He’s looking at Bed Head Romney. The man when all the cameras (except one) are off. Given unprecedented behind the scenes access to Romney’s duel presidential bids (2008 and 2012), the film delves deep into the man that many of us know, but don’t really know.
Though I’ve never been particularly fond of Romney the politician, I’ll admit I came away from Mitt with a sense of respect for the would-be president. Bed Head Romney is nothing like Robot Romney. Robot Romney is snobbish and wears tuxedos to the beach. Bed-Head Romney is a genuine, caring, down to earth (and a surprisingly funny) family man.
What Mitt doesn’t do is transform Romney into a superhero or savior. To tell the truth, he’s really not all too exciting. But that’s what makes this documentary so intriguing. Romney seems less like the guy who cuts you off in a Ferrari and more like the stranger who pulled over to help you change a flat tire. From the patience and care he shows his grandchildren, to his pre-debate nerves and almost obsession with picking up trash, Romney comes across as well, human.
With this in mind, Mitt’s true value comes in its ability to stay apolitical. The film spends little to any time on Romney’s political ideologies. The viewer wouldn’t even know where he stands on hot button issues if they are not acquainted with the politician already.
Whether you agree with Romney’s politics or not, Mitt shouldn’t be missed. It can teach us all, both liberals and conservatives, a thing or two. Or, three in this case.
First, our political culture loves to demonize individuals. If we don’t like a politician’s views, we attack their personality. It happened with Romney and it happens to President Obama. I might disagree with Romney on a few issues, but Mitt hit me with a shot of empathy. Politics has a way of disconnecting us from a person’s humanity. For those who are followers of Jesus, when you begin to demonize instead of disagree, you loose an opportunity to lead others towards the faith.
Second, don’t always believe the press. Discussing issues won’t sell. Attacking the individual sells. No one wants to watch two people talk through their feelings over a plate of chicken wings. We want to surround them in a circle while their fists have at it. The media wants characters, not people. Mistakes fail to disappear and often define a person’s reputation for a lifetime. Be careful what kind of ideology you expose yourself too. Study the issues, not the way a person is portrayed on a talk show.
Third, remember what really matters. At the end of the film, Romney and his wife wave goodbye to their Secret Service detail. The election is lost and they are back home (in a much less grandiose property than I imagined). The defeated couple shuffles inside, sitting down alone in their living room. After everything—the campaign, the election, the media circus—all that’s left is family. Thankfully for Romney, he has, by all accounts, a loyal wife and a barrage of children who have promised to love him unconditionally.
Sure, he may have lost the Oval Office, but did he really lose?
Republican or Democrat, we could all benefit from watching Mitt.
And his Bed Head.
Mitt is a Netflix original documentary. It’s currently available on the platform’s instant streaming queue. It’s not rated, but with Romney’s family, you aren’t going to have to worry about things getting racy.
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