As I listened to our presumptive GOP Presidential nominee give a speech yesterday afternoon on CSPAN, something he said really stuck with me: This November, “freedom and opportunity will be on the ballot.” I have been trying to “make” myself like Mitt Romney for weeks now. As a strong Santorum supporter, I hate to see things come to this point, but they have. I won’t give up on Santorum as long as he is in the race, but I am also not going to naively believe that this is still anyone’s game. Romney has pulled far away from the other candidates and will probably have this nomination wrapped up in a matter of weeks. Now the discussion will turn to what makes Mitt Romney so unappealing and unexciting to most conservatives.
I have to say that I’m in that category; Romney just lacks the enthusiasm and authenticity that it takes to get me, as well as thousands of conservatives across the country, energized. I don’t doubt that he loves this country; but I do doubt that he has the ability to energize the base. If he can’t energize the base– the folks who are solid Republicans– how can we expect him to excite Independents and young people? Both of these groups will play a huge role in this election, and whoever our nominee is must be able to win them over. Independents are going to vote for whomever they feel has the best vision for this country going forward (or rather, whichever candidate conveys their “vision” in the most appealing way). That’s one side. Young people, though, are a completely different story. Conservative young people are few and far between. College campuses today are filled with young people who care more about the “environment” and “animals” than they do other human beings; and most of them don’t even know if they’re registered to vote or not. I see this in person very often. Rest assured, President Obama’s campaign is already visiting college campuses around the country, registering young people to vote. If our nominee is going to win in November, he will have to have young people behind him.
President Obama won in 2008 largely due to young people getting out the vote for him. Given their alternative, they favored a young, 21st century candidate over a 70-something war veteran who seemed to be running a 20th century campaign. Obama sent out text message reminders to get out and vote! It was his positive message and enthusiasm that won most young people over. Will Mitt Romney be able to embody that same sense of excitement for young people? At this point, I’m having a hard time believing that the answer is yes. This isn’t meant to say that I won’t support Romney (I will with a strong VP choice), I simply believe he’s going to have a difficult time winning over a truly crucial voting bloc. We needed our own conservative Barack Obama in 2012; Paul Ryan, Allen West, Sarah Palin. Someone with enough experience to lead our country, yet still young enough to portray the energy that we so desperately need. Instead, we are choosing the opposite: A stiff, seemingly emotionless career politician who’s been running for President for six years. That lack of enthusiasm could cost us the election.
The argument of “a young VP choice will make up for Romney’s lack of enthusiasm” is simply false. People do not vote for vice-presidents; in a majority of cases, the VP is hardly given a glance on election day (other than in the VP debate and, in 2008, Sarah Palin’s intense media scrutiny). If a VP choice could win an election, all Mitt Romney needs to do, in my opinion, is choose Paul Ryan and he’ll be all set. However, this isn’t the case. We want a strong leader who can energize us and make us excited. Instead, people are making excuses for Romney’s lack of excitement. Instead oof making excuses should we have chosen a better candidate? Perhaps; but we’ll never know if things keep up the way they’re going. We need to get to the bottom of Romney’s lack of energy, or having “freedom and opportunity on the ballot” will matter very little to voters on Election Day. How can we expect people to vote for freedom and opportunity when the person conveying its message hardly seems to believe it himself? Unfortunately, in most cases young people do not vote for the person they have researched and believe to be the best choice; they vote for the person who inspires them to get out and do so.