One ticket brought hope to the working and middle classes of America in 2008. Can the Romney-Ryan ticket really articulate a vision of positive change in November 2012 for those same voters?
It has been one week since the announcement of Congressman Paul Ryan as the vice presidential nominee for the Republican Party. Since then, we have heard a lot about Ryan’s budget, Ryan’s voting record, and Ryan’s impact on the campaign trail.
If the Republicans are going to turn the tide of the recent poll numbers, the American people need to hear more about how Paul Ryan – and, in turn, the Romney-Ryan ticket – will be able to help the groups of citizens in most need of moving through the economic aftermath of the Great Recession.
The Romney-Ryan ticket could be seen as superior to the incumbent ticket regarding fiscal astuteness. Considering the combined expertise of the men involved, Romney and Ryan are commonly seen as respected numbers wonks, while Obama and Biden are seen more as expert politicians that excel with everyday Americans. Both ends of the Republican ticket regularly receive bipartisan kudos for their acumen concerning economic matters. This should play to Republicans’ advantage this fall. Of course, the results of the past four years that many Americans have endured under the Obama Administration (and a Democrat-controlled Congress for the first half of the presidential term) would seem to only reinforce the notion that there is a definite difference between the two tickets regarding economic understanding and influence.
Yet, none of that matters to date, as evidenced by recent polling. Further, it is unlikely that it will matter if the Romney-Ryan ticket is unable or unwilling to articulate an economic message that speaks directly to more of urban America, the youth of America, and the future of America.
So far, that does not seem to be the focus of the Romney camp. The Republican presidential ticket has done a great job getting the base excited with the Ryan addition to the ticket. That works for Middle America with demographics that harken back to America’s past. Yet, the image of adding a younger Mitt Romney clone (or, as some have suggested, someone akin to the former governor’s son) does little to stimulate younger voters to consider the GOP ticket. To date, efforts to elicit images of Americana with the Romney-Ryan ticket do little to connect to the future of the United States, a future that incorporates the continued urbanization of the country as well as the ongoing browning of America. By picking a Generation X member that does little to truly reflect what the younger generations of Americans experience currently, the Romney camp did not do much to help itself at the polls.
That is why it is imperative that the ticket project the image of “change” for 2012 through their leadership, pitting this message against the “hope and change” ticket that has had mixed results in office since winning the 2008 election.
The Romney-Ryan ticket (and, perhaps, particularly the economic policy wonk Ryan) must use the next 80 days to illustrate to the American people an economic plan that is going to benefit urban America immediately and extensively. They will already win red states and rural areas, yet they will lose the election if they are unable to convince swing voters in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Virginia that they will symbiotically lead them in the White House as well.
For all of the growing crowds during the first 7 days of campaigning as an official ticket, Romney-Ryan gains no true traction moving forward if their economic message does not include a pathway to re-surging economic prosperity for the younger generations of American workers and innovators. These Americans are not only the next generation of civic and business leaders, but they are also vital in bolstering future federal and state revenues necessary for conquering our debt. No amount of numbers-shifting, policy shifts, or ensuring political fights will matter much if the nation is incapable of optimizing its employment and education potential over the next 20 years. The Obama Administration has not been able to resolve this perplexing riddle over the course of the past 4 years. Yet, they continue to keep key demographics on their side as dependable voters – namely, Black voters, Latino voters, and young voters – because the Obama-Biden ticket is seen as the presidential ticket that cares enough about these demographics to fight for them on the campaign stump, even if support has suffered over the past 4 years. For Romney and Ryan to win, this must change – quickly.
From the ongoing battles with Governor Romney’s tax returns to the decades of Washington experience Congressman Ryan brings to the presidential ticket at age 42, the Republican ticket is already categorized as detached from modern, everyday America. The personalities and political backgrounds of both Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan may not create any connections with the independent voters that are sorely needed to take Romney to the White House in January. The best way – and, perhaps, the only way – to create the necessary tie with these voters is through articulating clear, focused initiatives that are part of the Romney plan to bring America out of this crisis.
Can the Republican ticket explain an initiative that will end the crisis of Black youth unemployment as we know it, providing tax incentives for apprentice programs for federal zones or congressional districts that contain a certain population? Can the Republican ticket describe a proposal where federal-state partnerships exist in low-business, high-risk areas so that low tax rates and stiffer criminal penalties can be brokered together to stimulate job growth in high unemployment areas? Can the Republican ticket offer support that ensures equality in hiring and wage practices without stifling job expansion?
Being experts on economic policy or business experience does not automatically translate into the type of change that America needs over the course of the next 4 years. The Obama-Biden ticket will continue to paint the Republicans as being advocates for taking us back to the past. In reply, the only way for the GOP to win this fall – defeating the power of Obama’s incumbency, the perception of his kindred with everyday America, and the idea of hope and change – is to explicitly speak to an economic vision for the diversity of America. The only way to win is to trump hope for a better America with the actual plans to bring about positive change for a changing America.
LENNY MCALLISTER is a senior contributor to Politic 365 featured on several national and international outlet including CNN, Current TV “The Young Turks”, and Sirius-XM Radio. Catch Lenny on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation this past weekend for more analysis on the GOP presidential ticket. His new book, “Spoken Thoughts of an Amalgamated Advocate in Today’s America” is now available electronically on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon.com . Catch Lenny’s The McAllister Minute on The American Urban Radio Network this week.