Millions of Americans are counting on our elected representatives and leaders to do that which was demanded in November 2010: cut spending and get our Nation’s fiscal house in order so we can create jobs and grow our economy. Desperate times call not for desperate measures, but instead actual measurable results, which have been in woefully short supply recently.
Tonight, America will see the contrast between someone who puts results over rhetoric and a politician that prefers empty slogans to the nuisance of substance. Governor Mitch Daniels will deliver the former while President Barack Obama precedes him with lots of the latter.
What our president has forgotten is political campaigns are built on slogans, presidencies are not. Memorable lines can quickly become part of the narrative of a presidency, valued members of the cultural lexicon, but they shouldn’t be used as a stunt double for policy.
Think of Ronald Reagan’s determined declaration to Premiere Gorbachev that he “tear down this wall.” There was a policy built behind the words. Same with “No Child Left Behind.” The goal within the legislation was to give each and every American child a chance to succeed.
Obama uses “win the future.” What the heck does that mean?
Playing to our heart strings, not our intellect, that’s what it means. Every American wants to succeed as an individual, a family, a nation. So the slogan could be exceptionally powerful if backed up with presidential muscle. But it’s not.
What Republicans must do during this national debate is become the candidates and party of substance. Give Americans a taste of what ideas are again and what it means to live in an America full of ideas again. Speeches don’t create jobs and slogans don’t make presidents.
Better off, let’s put slogans in a drawer, lock it and throw the key away in the ocean. Focus on what actually needs to be done to get our economy humming again. We don’t need a president focused on the quickest way to sell himself – again – to an uncertain public.
Unfortunately, his campaign believes you must buy into the notion of Barack Obama as a rhetorical wizard before supporting his policies. Good policies are hard enough to sell, but ones as flawed as his are dead on arrival.
Candidates for the GOP presidential nomination are complicit in this ineffective exercise themselves. For weeks they became mired in a debate over HPV vaccines and whether or not “Ponzi scheme” was an acceptable turn of phrase to describe Social Security. Lost in the chatter was the simple fact that “Ponzi scheme” or not, Social Security in its present form is completely unsustainable for the future. Our country deserves a system that works, but instead what we got was lowest common denominator politics appealing to the general fears of the voting public.
Now we’re all caught up in the daily debate over second wives, tax returns and the semantics of consultant. Does anyone really care?
We see this also in the Occupy Wall Street movement that has caught the attention, and adoration, of many on the left. Splitting the country in half, through the rhetoric of division, should be discouraged. But instead it has been condoned by a Democratic Party looking for a leg up amid dismal electoral prospects.
We simply can’t afford to continue down this path. Gridlock is consuming our nation’s capital, keeping the type of progress that will result in job creation as its victim. Partisans on both sides – and I certainly can count myself among that group most of the time – cheer the latest attacks and unwillingness of their party to budge on any issue that they believe to be outside their rigid party orthodoxy. So when listening to Obama’s rhetoric tonight, ask yourself, is any of that helping get 14 million people back to work? Wouldn’t you prefer results?