Why Election 2012 Is Already a Yawner
By: David Bozeman
Ever notice how most prominent liberals mention an anonymous Republican friend who confides embarrassment at the noisy, conservative wing of the party? Columnist Froma Harrop revealed that “a moderate Republican friend confided that he sometimes wishes his party would nominate Sarah Palin for president, get its clock cleaned, then go back to being old-fashioned, thinking conservatives.”
One only wishes the GOP were that daring. . . Sadly, Palin, the one leader for whom conservatives feel genuine affection, has been all but written off as a presidential contender, sometimes not even garnering a mention when Fox News handicaps the GOP’s potential 2012 field. Is she unelectable? Perhaps, and maybe Ann Coulter is right that the presidency would be a step down for the controversial but influential former governor.
Which, as of now, leaves conservatives with slim pickings. Note to Harrop: tell your moderate Republican friend that we’ve already tried “thinking conservatism.” John McCain, Presidents Bush 41 and 43 (the very models of bi-partisanship), Bob Dole and President Ford did wonders for the Republican Party, now didn’t they? “Thinking conservatism” — what an awe-inspiring strategy. You think Charlie Crist might be available given that his Senate plans didn’t quite pan out?
What now passes for a conservative slate of candidates could well clear the path for the Obama Error: Phase 2. To feel the pulse of the base, skip the news channel pundits and talk to conservative voters. For all his business acumen, no one is really inspired by Mitt Romney. Newt Gingrich, though highly regarded as an intellectual heavyweight, fails to spark any grass roots sentiment for a presidential run. Ron Paul, whether or not it is fair, not likely gonna happen. Ditto Donald Trump. How telling that the most lauded faces are such freshmen as possible 2016 contender Marco Rubio, and the most oft-repeated refrain is ‘we gotta nominate somebody.”
Now consider the dominant message. Any C-SPAN junkie knows that federal spending is out of control, but to harangue on fiscal irresponsibility, while ignoring life on the street, will not likely connect with the close to 10% of unemployed Americans (that number, of course, excludes the under-employed and those who have quit looking). Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton crafted their campaigns around speaking directly to those voters, with Reagan bringing aboard union and urban Americans who had always voted Democratic. No less in 2012 than in 1980 and 1992, unemployment, i.e. the human toll of Obama’s arrogance and hubris, should headline the GOP’s agenda for the next election.
Ultimately, America is afflicted not so much by a financial crisis as by a crisis in confidence. Ronald Reagan directly addressed that in 1980, who will address it now? Who will dust off our national identity, last highlighted by Reagan who reminded us that, as Americans, we have the right to dream big and to believe that our best days lie before us. Not ‘Yes, we can’ platitudes, the times demand leadership and policies that speak loudly and by name to America’s independent can-do spirit. The ideal candidate will reject the notion, murmured on the left and the right, that we should teach our children Chinese and chalk up the 20th Century as the apex of America’s economic and military prominence.
Working America needs a champion, not merely a numbers cruncher. A movement founded upon discussion of fiscal policy will soon fizzle as the average American, who is patriotic, independent and plays by the rules, longs for leadership over cool, abstract management. If Romney, Huckabee, etc. are reaching for the American soul, most of us have yet to feel it. Luckily, 2012 is lifetimes away in political years, and it can still be the election that revived not just our financial bottom line but our dormant sense of national pride and identity, as well.