Dear Mr. Romney
Dear Mr. Romney:
Since you apparently have advisors that are very clever people, perhaps a word from a troglodyte like me might be refreshing. In the last two weeks, you have tried to explain the difference between “off-shoring” and “outsourcing” with respect to the economy, and despite the great gift handed to you by our addled Chief Justice, John Roberts, you insisted on playing a semantical game between calling Obamacare a “constitutional tax” or an “unconstitutional penalty.”
Let me give you a clue: the overwhelming number of people who understand and/or appreciate the nuances in such parsing of the language already know who they're going to vote for. They're the ones who follow politics, have a far higher understanding of economics than the average American, and make an ongoing effort to pay attention to what's happening in general.
The rest of America knows there is an election in November, and not a whole lot else. Luckily for you, most of them won't even be paying attention to the details of that election until September or October. That doesn't make them unintelligent per se. For the most part it means that a lot of them are busy living their lives, trying to get from one day to the next. And while a lot of them know there's something not quite right with this economy, they can't immerse themselves in the kind of facts and figures – or nuance – that you and your campaign managers seemingly think they can.
You know why a slogan like “tax the rich” works so well? Because it taps into one of mankind's baser instincts, namely envy. And as you and yours have likely surmised by now, Mr. Obama and Democrats will tap into whatever negative instincts human beings possess, if it means winning the 2012 election. Divide-and-conquer is as old as the Romans, and has been effective for that long as well.
So here's my advice. First, reduce your campaign to its simplest terms. You had it going on when you asked Americans if they want to live in a “government-centered society,” yet even that was a bit clever. A simpler question might be this: if you needed a street light installed at a dangerous intersection in your neighborhood, would you rather call your local government representative, or be beholden to a federal bureaucrat in Washington, D.C.? Yet the bottom line here is this: you need a slogan that captures the essence of American exceptionalism. Hold a contest if you need to, but get something simple that appeals to a human being's higher instincts. When Ronald Reagan referred to America as a “shining city on a hill,” Mr. Peanuts had no comeback. Furthermore, appealing to Americans' higher instincts will further separate you from the Divider-in-Chief.
Yet even more importantly, maybe game-changing, have the guts to admit that your Massachusetts healthcare plan was a stinker. That's right, admit you made a colossal mistake, even if it was for what you considered all the right reasons. If you don't understand why, let me explain it in political terms that are quite germane, even if somewhat oblique: the cover-up, or in this case the cover-my-ass, is worse than the original “crime.” Watergate, Monica Lewinsky, and Fast and Furious are as in-your-face as it gets regarding that truism. A presidential resignation, an impeachment leading to a $90,000 fine and disbarment, and a contempt of Congress citation are a testament to the kind of arrogance and stubbornness that turns people off. So does giving Mr. Obama and his media harpies something to club you with, over and over again.
You know what turns people on? Someone man enough to admit he was wrong.
Understand something else as well. You're never going to be perceived as a regular Joe, no matter how hard you try. It's just not part of your DNA, it's never been part of your DNA, and any attempt to make it so will be taken for exactly what it is: overt pandering. What you need to demonstrate above all else is quite different. You need passion. It's not enough to have the right argument, if you're going to deliver it in measured – dare I say sleep-inducing – terms. Ask John McCain how staying “above the fray” works in a presidential campaign. I know this seems like a contradiction, but it's worth remembering Ronald Reagan, in the midst of praising the nation, wasn't afraid to ask the question that became the quintessential slogan of the 1980 election campaign. To wit: are you better of now than your were four years ago?
Hopefully by now you've figured out that any criticism of this president and his policies will be deemed racist by the Democrats and their useful idiots in the media. Get over it. And get over the idea that any topic, from the president's associations with race-baiter Jeremiah Wright and Weather Underground Terrorist Bill Ayers, to the various scandals of this administration, such as the Operation Fast and Furious gun-running debacle and the crony capitalism surrounding Solyndra and LightSquared., are “off-limits” because a bunch of progressives say so.
Finally, stop pretending Barack Obama is anything less than a Constitutionally-contemptuous, Congress-bypassing, fact-challenged, socialist/Marxist, no matter how “appalled” the chattering classes become. This country is hanging by a thread, and if you can't make the case – and make it with gusto – that he and his administration are an unmitigated disaster, you're going to lose an election you should win in a walk. In other words, a little righteous anger goes a long, long, long way.
Cleverness is for losers, and nice guys finish last. Step out of the self-generated campaign bubble, sir. Whether you like it or not, you may be the last best hope for our nation.
Start acting like it.