Mitt Romney has a big problem.
And it isn't his comment about the 47%.
Romney's problem is his inability to communicate a vision for America.
Frankly, this is why I wasn't in Romney's corner during the primaries, and why I haven't been an overly enthusiastic supporter since. He simply can't capture the true nature of conservatism and show that it means as much to him as it means to conservatives across the country. Naturally, his selection of Paul Ryan as his VP pick energized the conservative movement for a short time, but both he and his campaign team seem to have ignored the importance of that move, showing an unwillingness to continue that line of strategy. It's a choice that may cost him the presidency.
With the recent need and apparent desire to mix things up, Romney desperately needs to focus on a positive message for the nation. For too long, conservatives have focused on the failures of previous administrations and sought to make the conversation about what they would do differently in comparison to the liberals.
This mentality and strategy will fail.
Conservatives who truly want to make a difference, who want to change the direction in which this country is headed, don't spend their time responding to what the liberals are doing and saying. They act. Conservatives who want to make a difference passionately make their case for a brighter future where we're fiscally responsible and morally consistent. They don't apologize for comments that are true but hurt someone's feelings. They re-emphasize the fact that in order to get out of the mess we're in, we're going to have to hurt, we'll have to tighten our belts, it's going to be painful, but it must be done! This hasn't been the M.O. of the Romney campaign to date, and I fear it's unlikely to change over the next 40+ days.
The fact remains - whether or not Romney wins come November, it will ultimately take a passionate, principled conservative movement to make real headway in the fight to save the American Dream and American prosperity.
In February of 1977, Ronald Reagan gave the following exhortation to conservatives at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference:
"Extreme taxation, excessive controls, oppressive government competition with business, galloping inflation, frustrated minorities, and forgotten Americans are not the products of free enterprise. They are the residue of centralized bureaucracy, of government by a self-anointed elite.
Our party must be based on the kind of leadership that grows and takes its strength from the people. Any organization is in actuality only the lengthened shadow of its members. A political party is a mechanical structure created to further a cause. The cause, not the mechanism, brings and holds the members together. And our cause must be to rediscover, reassert, and reapply America's spiritual heritage to our national affairs.
Then with God's help we shall indeed be as a city upon a hill, with the eyes of all people upon us."
As conservatives we have no responsibility to apologize for the mistakes of a government that has grown too large and too centralized. We have a responsibility to reform it. To decentralize it. To starve it and decrease it in size and scope. We have a responsibility to restore power and liberty to the people.
Romney has no responsibility to apologize to those who are on the government dole, other than by communicating that the government has completely failed in truly helping them. It's the age-old "teach a man to fish" principle. Rather than handing out money for the homeless and unemployed to live another day, let's end the tax burdens upon the people of this country by severely cutting back government spending. Let's create an environment where businesses can thrive, multiply, and hire thousands... even millions of unemployed Americans. Let's cut back taxes so that individuals and corporations can make more profits and have more to give away so that they can care for those around them in need.
If Romney can embrace that message, then he has a chance. If he can show he has the business sense to go to Washington and cut government and cut programs and cut taxes, he has a shot. If he can retract the nonsense about repealing and replacing Obamacare and only focus on repealing, then he could energize the conservative movement.
If we as conservatives can focus on a message that embraces a vision of true hope for this country that is not focused on Washington but on the American people, then we can and will win this election. But we can't stop there. We must continue to fight for liberty. Because as Reagan once warned, "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction."