The 2012 presidential election was surely as content-free as any election has ever been.
It’s customary and prudent for the candidates to be somewhat platitudinous during primary season. That’s an elimination environment. Particularly with a large field, you’re looking for a reason to strike someone at least as much as you’re looking for a reason to support him/her.
But once the nominees are certain, much more detail should emerge, and it never did this past summer and fall, for several reasons.
It’s no mystery why Obama never got specific. He had a record this time around, and it was rotten. His strategy was to divide Americans, mostly with wealth resentment and social demagoguery; pick up whatever pieces he could; and hope it was enough. Obviously, it was.
Part of Romney’s problem was having to penetrate a mainstream media juggernaut, unified in its support of the sitting president. However, some of his lameness was definitely self-inflicted. I think that at times, he did a fair job talking about his plans for business, but what he didn’t realize was that his message needed to be more basic than that.
He needed to explain how and why private sector growth and accomplishment is consistent with the goals and dreams most people have. He assumed people knew that, when it’s contrary to most of what they hear from the White House, as well as the press carrying its water.
He needed to explain that self-reliance is a virtue, not something to be demonized. Government assistance should never be an expected way of life for anyone in this greatest country.
He needed to underscore the fact that individual achievement is a quintessential American value, not something to be mocked and discouraged.
He needed to make the (now, increasingly radical) claim that between a private citizen making his own decision and the government making it for him, the former is almost always preferable, so long as the citizen remains respectful of others’ rights.
He needed to reintroduce far too many people to the concept of liberty, and why they should crave and demand it.
As we pick up the pieces and move forward, we need not abandon conservative values. However, we must do a much better job explaining how they are more consistent with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.