Mitt Can Lose, Even If He Wins
The polls regarding the presidential horse race in November show Mitt Romney and Barack Obama either tied taking into account the margin of error, or with Obama ahead in some critical battleground states.
How can that be? Yes, Obama has the benefit of being the incumbent, so he gets to pound his chest while standing behind his bully pulpit. Yes, he gets a really, really big shiny airplane to fly around in to raise money and make hyper-partisan speeches while defining what he's doing as "official business." And yes, he has the benefit of a compliant media doing his bidding.
But as much as he tries to ignore it, he also has the burden of being the incumbent. For example:
- He has added $5 trillion to the national debt.
- His almost-trillion-dollar "stimulus" package hasn't really stimulated anything except the 2010 landslide defeat of Democrats in the House.
- His obvious disdain for Israel and his tilt toward radical Islamists in Palestine are hurting him with American Jews, even those most reliably liberal and Democrat.
- He has an attorney general who has been cited for contempt of Congress.
- He still has a history of hiding his political provenance, not allowing birth records, educational records, records of who might have paid for his education, and on and on, while claiming the mantle of transparency in his administration.
- He has not reduced spending or the deficit in the slightest and continues to call for more spending while the interest on his $5 trillion in additional debt adds up.
- He has presided over the longest and most sluggish recovery from a recession since World War II.
- He has made recess appointments -- even while the Senate was not in recess.
- His signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act, is tremendously unpopular with the electorate.
On balance, the great big shiny airplane shouldn't help him in anyone's polling to break into double-digits with a record like that.
Yet he is either tied with or leading Mitt Romney.
Perhaps the answer is so simple that it stares us in the face and we're not seeing it. There is a large number of people who want to see Barack Obama re-elected. There is an almost equally large number of people who want to see Barack Obama defeated.
But the question that remains unanswered is: how many people want to see Mitt Romney elected?
Wanting Obama out of the White House is not quite the same as wanting Romney in the White House. There is a sense in the news that Romney has not really excited those who are opposed to Obama. If Obama is defeated it will not, at the present time, be due to a groundswell of grassroots support for Romney. If Mitt Romney moved into the White House next January, it would be seen as happening by default, not because an energetic electorate wanted, really wanted, him to lead the nation back to fiscal sanity and help us regain our national sense of purpose and pride.
Mitt Romney cannot run on the basis of "Well, at least I'm not Barack Obama." He must keep hammering on every one of his 59 points until the polls tell him which is really hitting home with voters, and then do everything he can to contrast what he wants to do with what Barack Obama has actually done. He has to show examples of how each of his proposals has actually worked before. He can't just say they are a theory.
We've already had forty-two months of theory, and those theories, while sounding wonderful, are about as practical as the phlogiston theory of flammability. They just don't work in the real world.
The real danger for the nation is that if (and "if" is the reality) Mitt Romney is elected this November without that energized base who actually want him to be president, he won't have the ground troops to help fight the onslaught of 7/24 criticism that will be coming his way from the media, the Democrats, the Progressive think-tanks, the left-wing blogosphere, and the Hollywood intellectuals. He will suffer a death by a thousand cuts. Well, he's rich and he can afford Band-Aids.
The question really is, what happens to the nation? Without that real network of supporters, there would be a serious danger of Romney following Obama as another one-term president. Romney wouldn't have the troops or organization to help him spread his message and puncture the tissues of lies that will inevitably be told to minimize his accomplishments in office and maximize his failings, unless he can energize people to the point where the voters want to elect Mitt Romney.
Romney has to take a page from Obama's own playbook -- if they bring a knife, you bring a gun. This is not a cotillion; this is an election. It is the closest thing in American life to a blood sport.
Ironically, it is a Progressive who actually says it best. Teddy Roosevelt, speaking at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1910, said:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Let's hope that Mitt Romney shows the daring to win, and let's also hope that daring inspires people to work to elect him, rather than just depose Obama. The alternative is bleak.
Jim Yardley is a retired financial controller for a variety of manufacturing firms, a Vietnam veteran, and an independent voter. Jim blogs at jimyardley.wordpress.com, or he can be contacted directly at email@example.com.