Given the awful state of the American economy, featuring a four-year high unemployment rate and an increasingly crushing national debt . . .
Given that America is at least as hated in the Muslim world as it was when George W. Bush was president — despite the Obama policy of obsequious rhetoric directed toward that world . . .
Given the virtually unprecedented tension between the United States and Israel, its closest ally in the Middle East . . .
Given the complete failure of sanctions to stop Iran from its pursuit of an atom bomb . . .
Given the spectacle of European financial collapse — and very possibly the end of the Euro — owing to the inevitable failure of the very type of welfare state that the president and the Democratic party advocate . . .
Given the lack of any of the promised progress in unifying America politically and racially (if anything, the country is more divided than ever) . . .
Given the huge growth in the number of Americans receiving payments from the government, and the growth in the amount of those payments . . .
. . . a Republican candidate should not merely win in the November elections, he should win in a landslide.
Yet, polls show the candidates more or less tied nationally, and President Obama winning in most “battleground” states.
Assuming the polls are valid, how is one to explain this?
There are two interrelated explanations.
1. The campaign has focused almost exclusively on the unemployment rate, on “jobs” and “job creation.”
2. Many Republicans and many conservatives — including, too often, Mitt Romney — do not know how to make the case for conservative values.
Yes, Americans want a president who can fix the economy. But even more so they want a president who has a vision for the country.
Unfortunately, with the exception of Ronald Reagan, no Republican presidential candidate in our lifetime has articulated the distinctive American values system, or what we call conservatism.
Indeed, the senior George Bush actually disparaged such talk as “the vision thing.” He consequently became one of only two presidents since Herbert Hoover to be denied a second term. Along with raising taxes after promising not to, his lack of a vision for the country was a major reason.
If the 2012 election is truly the most important in our lifetime, if not in modern American history, isn’t running for president on the issue of job creation alone insufficient?
If most Americans believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction, doesn’t it behoove the Republican challenger for the presidency to explain why that is so in as broad and compelling a way as possible?