Although crafting a campaign after George W. Bush may be helpful, it is not exactly a good blueprint. To start, the political environment when Bush ran for the first time in 2000 was much different. The American people were proud of the economy that President Clinton had built through fiscal restraint, and the “end of welfare as we know it”, but the office of the Presidency had been morally damaged by Clinton. George W. Bush, the recovering alcoholic, born again Christian evangelical Texan, was proposing to change all of that. Not to mention the Middle East at that time was a problem that wasn’t of concern to America or the west.
A better blueprint for Romney would be the one laid out by Ronald Reagan. There are so many comparisons between the 2012 election and the election of 1980 that it could be possible for Romney to pull off a Reagan like victory this fall.
When Reagan was ran for president, a liberal Democrat occupied the oval office. Jimmy Carter had just presided over four years of absolute economic disaster. Inflation was through the roof, and the lines at the gas pump were long. Not to mention America looked extremely weak on the world stage, and the misery index had hit an all time high. And then there was Reagan.
Ronald Reagan was able to win not just because of his policies and proposals, but because he could communicate them like nobody else could. Reagan was inspiring, not because he gave amazing speeches written on a teleprompter, but he explained how his brand of conservatism was for everybody.
Reagan did not need to change his principles to attract independent voters; he just went out and got them. He convinced them that liberalism was not what they wanted, because it was ruining their lives. He convinced them, and many other groups that traditionally did not vote Republican, that deep down inside they actually were conservatives, they just didn’t know it yet.
Reagan ran an aggressive campaign that was not afraid to attack Jimmy Carter for his disastrous policies, while at the same time putting forth an optimistic vision for the country. He emphasized that his Presidency would give the power back to the people, and as cliché as that phrase has come to be, it is a fundamental truth that more and more power is being given to the government.
During his candidacy, and on into his Presidency, Reagan was able to explain conservatism like nobody else has before or since. While George W. Bush did the right thing by cutting taxes early in his Presidency, he could never sell it. He explained that by cutting taxes across the board, all Americans would “be able to keep more of their hard earned money.” But he left it at that. He never explained how letting people keep more of their money helps the overall economy. Then, when the state government in Louisiana botched the response to Hurricane Katrina, Bush almost voluntarily took the blame for the late response. The real explanation of what happened was not fully explained to the public until Bush’s memoir “Decision Points” hit the shelves, and by that time it was too late.
Republican politicians more often than not are doing the right things, but they can never explain to the general public why it is the right thing. When the media attacks them, they don’t know how to defend themselves, and when liberals lie about them, they never bother to set the record straight. Being able to give a great speech isn’t the mark of a great candidate, but being able to explain conservatism in a simple way to the average American voter is essential.
Reagan was able to make politics personable. He was able to make the light bulb go off in the heads of many independents, who were gun-shy when it came to voting for a man who was labeled as an extreme conservative. Reagan’s campaign was focused, and tactical, and was able to not only map out his plans for the future, but also point out the mistakes of the past 4 years.
Mitt Romney has Ronald Reagan potential. And although ne needs to be his own man, copying Ronald Reagan would be a great idea. Even though many political advisers may think they know how to help a candidate win, their advice pails in comparison to the advice gained by watching a winner.
Ronald Reagan didn’t just win, he won big. He convinced the entire country that he was the right man for the job. He convinced people in blue states and red states that he was the man for the job. He was honest, principled, and most of all conservative. The voters liked the fact that he was conservative because by the time voting day came around, they knew exactly what conservatism was and how it would help not just the rich, but everybody who had skin in the American game.
There is a reason why almost 3 decades later, you still see people wearing “What Would Reagan Do” t-shirts, and why polls show Reagan to still be one of the most popular modern day American Presidents. The people loved Ronald Reagan.
Right now, Mitt Romney has the experience to be President. When his life accomplishments are stacked up against that of President Obama, there is really no comparison between the two. Romney has proven to be a true conservative who was able to govern even in one of the most liberal states in the union (a job that looks much easier than it is). He has a plan that will make America stronger, and more prosperous.
Even though the times have changed, the issues still remain the same. The chances of Republican victory have never been better since Ronald Reagan declared his candidacy for President.
If Mitt Romney wants to win like Reagan, he should try and be like Reagan.