Question for all of the people who believe the President in thinking that success in America does not come without its federal government: If the government were so necessary for success in every aspect of our lives, why didn’t the Constitution require the government’s participation and provision of so many services rather than limit the ability of the government? Think about that for a moment.
The President, who constantly uses straw man arguments, would have you believe that his opponents think that government does nothing of value. That is absolutely false. People on the center-right generally believe that government should be limited, and that the Constitution serves to limit it to its proper role so that liberty is maximized and people have the freedom to apply their abilities and succeed. That’s the heart of the free enterprise system that Mitt Romney knows so well, and that so many people come here to experience. The President may want to run against Nixon, but Nixon understood and articulated something that trumps the President’s government-centric view: America is great because of its people and what they do for themselves and each other.
That’s the same message that Mitt Romney hit today in an important speech. As Romney put it, demonizing success means we will experience less success. In contrast to the President’s stated views, Romney said today that he believes in free people and free markets. It is the free market system that allows for the freedom to succeed and to create wealth and jobs, and it is precisely because the government is limited that the free market exists and affords people so much opportunity.
Once again, as Romney acknowledged, the government has a role in creating the conditions in which people can succeed. But return to my opening question and consider why the government’s role is defined and limited. This is an essential point that Romney began to make today when he said:
Let’s stop and think about the system of government and what it tells us in our founding document, the Declaration of Independence. It does not say that the government gave us our rights. It says that God gave us our rights. They came with us not with Government.
Romney could have continued by saying that the government is limited and defined by our Constitution precisely to protect those rights, and that government cannot take them away. In addition, the freedom that comes from limited government facilitates the free enterprise system that provides for the American Dream. It’s not government that creates the market, that produces products and services that people pay for and that create jobs, or that makes people successful. Government allows for such opportunity and success by focusing on its limited and defined role, but government has often gotten too involved in some areas to the extent that it prevents opportunity and economic growth.
Mitt Romney needs to continue to harp on this message, and he needs to do so in a manner in which he hits the President hard. It may not be enough for Romney to run as a non-Obama, only pointing to the President’s economic failures. Mitt needs to show that the President is a failure because his policies too often put government first, and because as a leader President Obama has been willing to divide the country with negative rhetoric, unilateral action, and unpopular legislation. If Romney can both hit the President for his failures and articulate his vision for a limited government that allows for the American people to thrive, then he will have a better chance at winning than if he were only non-Obama.
UPDATE: Romney followed up with another speech the next day, harping on the same themes and taking advantage of a favorable framing provided by the President’s own words. He perhaps outperformed his excellent speech from yesterday, and seems to be hitting his stride. On a similar note, this new NYT/CBS poll shows Romney up 1, and that’s with a D+6 sample. Some very interesting internal numbers:
Romney is also seen as better on the federal budget deficit (50 percent to 36 percent), taxes (47 percent to 42 percent) and illegal immigration (46 percent to 38 percent). Mr. Obama as seen as better on foreign policy (47 percent to 40 percent) and social issues (48 percent to 37 percent). Views of the candidates on health care and terrorism were split.
The immigration number is somewhat surprising, and might demonstrate a trend consistent with the latest New Mexico poll that shows the President having lost 15 points with Hispanic voters. This begs the question of whether the President’s unilateral immigration move is backfiring. The New Mexico poll shows support for the President’s immigration decision at 41-46. We’ll see if that represents a negative trend for the President. In the meantime, his lead in NM appears to be cut in half, and the NYT/CBS national poll could spell real trouble for him. Maybe the negative attacks are also backfiring, but if Team Obama is calling Romney a felon in July and is still in trouble, who knows how low they will go in desperation to take down Mitt.