A LONG WAY FROM HOPE AND CHANGE: Why Mitt Romney Might Just Win This Thing

It seemed a long shot a year ago. Mitt Romney announced his 2nd attempt at the highest office in the land amid groans and eye rolls from his Republican colleagues...

It seemed a long shot a year ago. Mitt Romney announced his 2nd attempt at the highest office in the land amid groans and eye rolls from his Republican colleagues and quiet cheers from some Democratic circles. Mitt Romney was too liberal to be a Republican nominee and too rich and too Republican to appeal to a population struggling beneath the burden of the Great Recession that claimed millions of jobs, this writer’s included, and was the lasting legacy of the George W. Bush Presidency. During the Republican Primary everyone from Newt Gingrich to Jeb Bush took shots at the weak candidate for his years at Bain Capital and weak Republican credentials. Republicans were quick to point out his transient relationship with his pro-life stance and his own passage in Massachusetts of what is often termed Romneycare.

But now, here, the week of the Republican convention, amid a tight race or so show all national polls, Mitt Romney might just win this damn thing. And it has nothing to do with Mitt Romney.

Romeny’s biggest weakness’s come from his families greatest successes – his wealth has isolated him from the burdens most of us have felt at one time or another. During the Primary Romney was quoted as saying he did not care about the “very very poor” since they were covered under the various “entitlement” programs and he said “if there are holes in it (social safety net) I will fix them”.  Statements like these show an out of touch man who may be well meaning but ultimately is unable to understand that there are holes in our social safety net and with 46 million and counting people living under poverty  it will be the next several President’s responsibilities to address this growing crisis. Though he is, as I said, well meaning, it shows he’s out of touch more than H.W. Bush and his grocery store error (where he lost his re-election).

And it was this weakness that the Obama Campaign has been attempting to exploit but with horrible and sophomoric results. The extreme negativity coming out of the Obama campaign as they try to paint Romney as a modern day Gordon Gecko is back firing. Primarily because President Obama now finds himself with the same weakness as his opponent. The bubble around a sitting President is not one that provides a clear view of the country – it is distorted and pulled and pushed every which way as aides whisper in his ear platitudes or warnings whose aims are to further their careers and not necessarily the work of the White House. His campaign is clearly disorganized as I suspect old guard Democrats who want to be able to have more control (think Clinton era) are exerting themselves and clashing with the hope and change crowd of the 08 campaign. It’s hard to tell on the outside just why President Obama has decided to lose the election but he clearly has given up on some of the basic tenets of his 2008 candidacy – optimism. It is disturbing to see how cynical he has become in 3 and half short years. The grey in his hair mixed with the knuckle up nature of his re-election campaign shows a man back on his heels, rocked to the core.

People vote one of three ways – every time:

1)     For the front runner – we like to be on the winning team – the in-crowd.

2)     For the underdog – the candidate who should win if he just had more money or support – the candidate that appeals to the fighter, the average man.

3)     Not for the loser – no one wants to vote for someone they are secretly or not so secretly embarrassed by, troubled by or who just isn’t very good or interesting.

It may seem like a simplification but I think it speaks to basic instinct in voters that effects turnout and enthusiasm. Right now, for example, momentum is not going in Obama’s direction – every day stories hit the net about the lack of support from the entertainment community – notice there are no Will.I.Am’s or montages of artists repeating Obama’s speeches. Notice the lack of yard signs and bumper stickers. Notice the lack of Obama books on display at bookstores. Notice most coverage of the President is negative. Notice these things because the Obama campaign clearly has not.

So here we are in 2012 and right not, thanks to the Obama campaign’s negative ads that often were just incredibly distorted and lazy, Romney is the underdog. Yup that’s right. He’s the underdog. But guess what – Obama is not the front runner. There is no front runner. So where does that leave the Obama campaign? Very close to being in the 3rd category – the loser.

I actually think he’s been a stellar President. But he has failed to control his own party. He has failed to communicate a damn thing to the actual electorate. And he’s failing at his re-election thanks in large part to his own misguided cynicism.

Why be afraid of Mitt Romney after all? He was nearly castrated in the Republican primary, he has barely any support from the Republican establishment or any of their fringe groups like the Tea Party and his own family didn’t want him to run. Oh and he’s done nothing but run for President since 2007/2008.

But the Obama team came of their gate swinging with negative ads trying to paint Romney as some sort of evil CEO. He’s not. He’s successful and the people in this country like successful people. His family is the epitome of the American dream – started simple and over several generations have grown in both wealth and influence. Romney may not be self-made but his father was. And everyone takes advantage of every tax break, loophole and exemption they can – the reality is no one likes paying their damn taxes. So attacking Romney on these fronts – being successful and being smart with his money are not effective and are wasted moves.

Instead of using those first ads as a chance to remind voters what Obama has come from, what he’s achieved and the people he’s helped along the way – instead of those positive stories (which I still have not seen) – he has been running “Mitt is Evil” black and white, grainy 90’s looking negative ads. Those ads reduce the 44th President of the United States to a mere candidate, desperate to paint his opponent as something negative and thus saying “see – he’s worse than me – stick with me”. Not exactly an inspired aspiration. A long way from Hope and Change.

The reality is the economy is improving (perhaps thanks to the millions spent on this election?) and come the fall the electorate is not going to be nearly as energized, scared, worried, or excited to vote. They will be busy living their lives – tired of the circus and crassness of politics. Since Obama’s clearly gone grey-cynical and since Mitt seems to be too liberal for Republicans and too conservative for Democrats  – well – voters are now forced between two choices that do not excite them. Expect low turnout. Expect a tight tight race. And it’s all Obama’s fault. This was his to lose. And he may just well lose it. After all – admitting that he was okay with being a one term president was the first sign that he was giving up on Hope and Change and the first sign that he was losing the fight in him – but no one wanted to burst that bubble.