Mitt Romney suffers the same infirmity most establishment Republicans suffer: he knows how to speak to the people; he just doesn’t know how to connect with them.
Case in point:
The other day Obama put his foot in his mouth when he exposed the Marxist collectivist ideology that drives his and the Democratic Party’s social agenda. He let slip his disdain for individualism and individual achievement when he chastised small businessmen and women who labored under the mistaken belief that it was they, not the collectivist efforts of society, which accounted for their success.
Obama’s strategy is obvious but fundamentally flawed: if everyone is responsible for the success of small and large businesses, doesn’t it make sense that these businesses should be required to distribute their wealth, pay their fair share, pony up more taxes? The very basis of the “fairness” argument is Marxist. If the people are truly responsible for the wealth of businesses, surely, the argument goes; the people are entitled to share in the profits.
So Obama stumbles. Mitt, then, is encouraged by his staff and others to respond. So far so good. A day later the Republican nominee launches a fuselage against Obama’s Marxist rhetoric, not calling it what it is, of course, because nice Republicans don’t do that, but alluding to the insult hurled at entrepreneurs and small businesses in kinder gentler, abstract business terms. Entrepreneurs should feel insulted.
Entrepreneurs? What? Huh? There he goes again: speaking to the people, but not connecting with them. Mitt had a perfect opportunity to personalize his response, and by personalizing it, connect with every small business owner and working man and woman in America. That he missed the opportunity and invoked entrepreneurs says something about his campaign advisors and him.
How many average voters know what an entrepreneur is? How many know what the word means but think it too abstract to involve them? Surely an entrepreneur is someone with money to invest. An entrepreneur is someone else, not them. Millions of potential supporters were passed over because the country club gentry doesn’t understand them.
How should have Mitt responded? Well, how about this:
“The president just insulted every mom and pop coroner store owner, every seamstress with a shop, every plumber and electrician with a truck and a small business, every carpenter, every baker who struggles every day to make his bakery profitable, every neighborhood barber, every mall kiosk owner who sells and repairs watches, every small business owner that opens a shop and fixes computers, sells televisions and hopes for a customer or two before closing their business for the day – every American who has ever built and struggled to run a small business and succeeded and failed, every one of us should be insulted by the president’s collectivists remarks. Why? Because the heart and soul of America is the small business owner who hires and sells and fixes and makes a products and with his own ingenuity, drive, ambition and persistence clings to the hope that he or she will be able to make a living, hire employees, see his or her business grow – these are the people who made America great: they are fiercely independent, proud, stubborn and far smarter and wiser than the president who leads them, and doesn’t understand what drives them or drives this country.”
If Mitt delivered the above remarks, he would have scored a hit at the heart of every American, and I might add, created one hell of a campaign add to boot.
Suggestion for the Romney campaign: learn to connect not in business terms but in terms that touch the hearts and inspire the souls of Americans. This is what President Reagan understood. He knew how to connect to the average man and woman and make their hopes and dreams his hopes and dreams. With a leader like that, how can people not respond?