To win in November, Mitt Romney has to get three things right. First, he has to be a positive physical presence, showing Americans what an optimistic American face looks like. Second, he needs to show how the American Mind works to solve problems. Third, he must win over the undecideds and the Blue Dog Democrats.
He achieves the first with some ease. He does look like a president, and although a little stiff and awkward at times, he has a smile and positive outlook that is very American. Unlike his dour and aloof opponent, Governor Romney shows hope in his physical presence which America badly needs in its leader.
Why? Because the one thing that all nations need right now, not just America, is a positive and can-do Capitalist attitude to lift us out of this recession. Back in 2007, at this time, candidate Obama was painting the economy in apocalyptic terms, because he was going to arrive on wings, lifted by adulation, to solve the nation’s, and the world’s, woes. Don’t just take my word for it, even Hilary Clinton was saying as much.
Also back in 2007, the economy was in a punishing mood. We were living in a bubble that was only amazing in the sense that it took so long to burst. Living off too much debt and leverage, which are not bad things in themselves when used wisely, the spirit was a “can’t do” attitude. The basics of economic life were consigned to the trash, and individuals, companies and government contrived to live as if the economy can’t fail and we can’t be bothered to work to produce real wealth.
Hence, the misery that followed. Hence, the big disappointment that became President Barack Obama. Hence, the constant concern on the president’s face, disguising a man out of his depth. So, we need a can-do president, who believes there is enough of the American dream to fuel a new era of economic growth; which brings me to the second thing.
Rooted in the American dream, Romney needs ideas that get the people energized. At a time when Capitalism is under stress, the battle of ideas has to be won. Folks need to see what the future can look like under Capitalism, not holed up in OWS enclaves or rallying against the rich. No-one complained about the rich when the economy was going up; why pin all the blame on them when it goes down?
Unlike Europe, Capitalism has been the engine of America from the beginning. It is inseparable from the enlightenment and religious ideas which formed the nation. Capitalism is not just a theory. It is a realistic, though like humanity itself imperfect, instrument for managing the needs and wants of a people. Romney needs to go beyond trotting out the same ideas of small government and tax cuts, and all those things, because they are ideas that are not just familiar, they are falling on barren soil.
Romney needs to shape these old ideas – and bring in some new ones – to show a recession weary nation why there is reason to hope. This is not the hope that was on the way for John Edwards, nor the hollowed hope of the Obama presidency. It is not even a hope in a Romney administration. It has to be a hope in Capitalism and a hope in the nation itself, in other words a hope in America.
So, the third thing falls into place if the first two are achieved. If Romney can capture the imagination, rooted in a realistic vision about the nation’s economic needs and other policy options, then he will reach out to those he needs to win over to become Romney 45. He needs to show a picture of the future that is not about government filling gas tanks or paying mortgages, but hard working Americans taking care of their own business.
The Obama bubble burst a long time ago, even for many of his supporters, and especially for those independents, youth and Blue Dog Democrats who believed he offered a new hope. Romney has only a little time to raise up new thinking in his campaign, and show why the economic bubble burst under the Republicans and George W. Bush, and why the economic solution bubble burst under the Democrats and Barack Obama.
Romney has one of the things he needs, the physical presence, but he needs the second thing of right thinking if he is to get the third thing which will sweep him into the White House. It’s over to you Governor….
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