You Don’t Know ‘Mitt’ – Documentary review

You Don’t Know ‘Mitt’ – Documentary review

Not too long ago, a guy named Mitt Romney was the second most talked about guy in America (after Justin Bieber, of course).  Then he lost a Presidential election, and everybody forgot about him

The new Netflix documentary, “Mitt,” will not only remind you of the man who almost led the most powerful country in the world, it will make you question whether you ever really knew him in the first place.

The documentary provides unprecedented access to Romney, his family and campaign during pivotal moments of both his primary fight against John McCain in 2008 and the presidential clash of 2012. We’re talking about seconds after Romney leaves the stage from pivotal debates, and, in the film’s most fascinating scene, the exact moment when he decides to concede the 2012 election and wonders if anyone in the room has a phone number for President Obama.

“Mitt” touches on Romney’s central policy beliefs, but the movie isn’t particularly interested in right-left philosophies. It’s more about the relationships within his inner circle, comprised mostly of his wife and family. Sure, they discuss debate strategy and the perils of the campaign trail with the snappiness and intelligence you’d expect from a solid “West Wing” episode. They also crack jokes about Romney’s image in the media (“Flip-Flopping Mormon”) and question whether the process of a national election is truly worth the associated headaches and heartache.

Mitt movie poster

Obviously, this is a family that loves each other, but there’s a warmth to their interactions at even the most disappointing moments of the campaign.  It isn’t necessarily a “softer” side of Mitt Romney, just a side that humanizes him and reaffirms the genuine passion he has for making things better for other people.

Director Greg Whiteley ends the film with Romney heading home after the election and saying goodbye to a security team that followed and protected him for months. It’s a quiet but powerful moment, and I wish Whiteley continued to follow the family during their transition to non-political life. How does someone come out from such a spotlight?

After seeing the film, I’ve heard other people ask, “Where was THIS Mitt Romney on the campaign trail?” That’s the wrong question. The truth is, he was always there. Our campaign culture, populated by quick sound bites and empty policy slogans, makes it all but impossible for any person to be a human being while running for political office. That’s true of Romney, and that’s still true of  President Obama. Both men really aren’t presented as they should be or how they are as leaders.

I didn’t vote for Mitt Romney in 2012, and I don’t think this documentary would have changed my opinion about his proposed policies. But America would have been more than OK with Romney at the helm, and the country needs more people as its representatives rather than the empty vessels we see on television. Because of “Mitt,” I can now look at Romney as someone who could have been a person and not a vacant figurehead for partisan bickering.

“Mitt” is now streaming on Netflix Instant for subscribers. Maybe some other folks in Washington could learn something from it.

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