There was a time it seemed the sum total of the Romney campaign would be simply a referendum on Obama's failed record. That will get you far, but in today's stagnant economy with Americans' anxiety about the future at all time highs, a campaign needs more than that. It needs to offer voters a choice and a realistic path to get American back to work again. Today, at a homecoming rally for Paul Ryan in Wisconsin, Mitt Romney and his running mate did just that.
I'm not certain I've ever typed this, but you really need to watch these two political speeches. Ryan's begins emotionally as he reacts to the outpouring of support from long-time friends and the magnitude of the burden ahead. The Democrats will have a hard time labeling such a sincere and humble man as a "dangerous extremist."
But, he really hits his stride in talking about the greatness of America. He reminds the listeners that America, uniquely, was founded on an idea. Our rights derive from nature and our creator, not from government. Ryan is known as a deficit-hawk. Not, though, because he is some green eye-shade accountant, but rather because he understands that a growing and expanding government saps the very liberties that have made our nation great. We need to restrain government, not solely to "balance the books", but to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit that made our country great.
As great as Ryan's speech was (and it was), Romney's was, perhaps, even better. I had never before seen him give such a full-throttle articulation of American Exceptionalism. His campaign message, in essence, is to rebuild that "shining city on the hill." Teaming up with Ryan is beginning to unleash something in him we haven't seen before. Mostly gone are the small-bore policy prescriptions, replaced by an incredibly passionate vision to restore the country.
The Democrats have no competing vision. They will argue over a particular aid program or worry about how certain tax changes will affect left-handed ventriloquists earning $47,000 a year. Their's is the party of clientism. They will give groups X, Y and Z benefits A, B, and C. It is the pettiest of politics.
Romney and Ryan today laid out an alternative vision. Government isn't here to give you things. It is here to protect your rights and then get out of the way so you can live your own life. Yes, there will be a safety net. But, its a net, off which we will climb and start our way back up the ladder. Its the American tradition.
And, its on the ballot in November.
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