By Paolo von Schirach
September 23, 2012
WASHINGTON – The Romney-Ryan ticket is most likely doomed because the only part of the Republican message that truly resonates is “cuts and sacrifices”. Worse yet, the Democrats have managed to sell the view that these cuts and sacrifices are really part of a sinister plot to keep enriching the super rich, while reducing benefits for the poor and increasing their taxes. So the Republicans are not just heartless accountants who care only about balancing the budget, they are in fact mean spirited people bent on making the lives of those who struggle even harder.
Republicans as bad guys
As silly and comic book like as this interpretation looks, the fact is that politically it sells quite well. Most unfortunately, the American public is still accustomed to politicians promising more and more goodies (at zero cost) and no sacrifices. Hard to get elected with a message that in essence says: “Sorry folks, the party is over. Here is the bill. Roll up your sleeves because it will take a long time to pay for all this nonsense“.
This being the way the GOP message resonates, to make things a lot worse Mitt Romney is a bad messenger. Whatever his personal qualities, he comes across as a wooden, insincere and rather flat would-be leader. In all this, it does not really help much that there is almost nothing in his platform that at least on the surface is aimed at winning the support of some segments of traditional Democratic supporters. Nothing for Blacks, nothing for Latinos, nothing for women, nothing for immigrants, nothing for seniors, nothing for the gay community.
Given all that, Obama’s re-election, improbable until a few months ago given the sorry state of the US economy and public finances, now looks almost certain.
Not telling the truth
But this is not a good thing. Obama will win by behaving like a traditional politicians in a time of plenty, that is a time in which finances are healthy and the economy is thriving. Obama is promising to keep benefits and entitlements just as they are, telling the neediest beneficiaries that he will take care of them and that he will send the bill to the rich, so that they will finally pay “their fair share”. His program does not eve begin to address the historic challenges of globalization and the consequent need to be strategic and proactive in planning major investments in new technologies, while adjusting federal spending to the new realities of debt and lower revenue.
And here is the problem. America is facing a historic competitiveness challenge and an equally large fiscal challenge. Simply stated, we have run out of innovative ideas that will keep as ahead and we have not invested in our future; while we still live under the illusion that we can keep spending gigantic and growing sums of money on entitlement programs designed in another era with different costs and entirely different demographic trends.
Economic and fiscal challenges
It is obvious that any serious re-engineering plan that would address both the US economic base shortcomings and all critical fiscal issues would need to be supported by a broad based social compact. From this stand point, as we need to decide how to assign additional burdens, fairness is absolutely important. But so are programs with real teeth.
Obama will win because he is stressing fairness. But his reform plans lack teeth. This way his campaign is creating the false hope that just by taxing the super rich a bit more, (yes, the greedy folks like Mitt Romney and his backers), all will be well. This is of course a fantasy; taxing the rich more may be good social policy; but it will solve nothing. This is obvious, and the president, an intelligent man, must know it.
The Republicans blew it
The Republicans blew the historic opportunity to properly mix their message of serious economic and fiscal reform with an equally important message of inclusiveness, equal opportunity and hope. In other words, whatever their intentions, nothing in what they are saying gives the disadvantaged a novel and inspiring vision of how Republican policies will help them overcome hurdles and help them climb the economic and social ladder. This inability to connect with so many struggling Americans condemns the Republicans to be a minority party at the national level.
The Democrats, in their effort to curry favor, refuse to state how bad things really are in America, both economically and fiscally, this way encouraging the wishful thinking that easy solutions are just around the corner. Tax the rich, tinker a bit with Medicare and all will be fine. Just vote for Obama and you will be happy. Politically expedient but totally irresponsible message.