Now, before you say something in your comments you’ll regret — or should regret — this is not to endorse the freedom-killing and economy-destroying solutions of the left, which only create a nation of rulers and dependents. Barack Obama has been a disaster for the poor and the working class and, I believe, will continue to be so. But to pat a worker on the head with your cigar hand and say, basically, “Don’t worry, little man, an unfettered market lifts everyone,” is not going to win you his confidence or his vote. Reagan never did that. (Read the excellent WaPo piece by AEI’s Henry Olsen at the link.) Reagan always stood up and spoke up for the little guy. He identified with him and explained why his policies would help him. Many of today’s Republicans have lost that knack and given the game away in the process. That’s why the polls showed people shared Romney’s values but thought Obama cared about “people like me.”
It’s largely conservative policies that help the working guy and girl, but you have to let them know that and make sure they understand that government cares about them and will not abandon them if they fall off the bottom rung of the ladder. When one candidate is saying, “Tax the rich,” and the other is calling half the people moochers, both are wrong… but only one will win an election.
Yes, the September/October surprise worked. And Romney was no Reagan. But the good news is that a more ept candidate can make the case to the working class for free markets. But the Republicans have to start caring more about it themselves, and stop coddling big business.
[Update a couple minutes later]
Related thoughts from Paul Hsieh:
…in retrospect, the vote totals showed that Romney’s support may have been deeper than McCain’s in 2008, but not significantly broader.
So in that respect, those GOP rallies indicated something akin to the small-but-intense fan base for Apple computers in the mid-1990s. Of course, one of Steve Jobs’ key accomplishments in the 2000s was to turn that into an LARGE-and-intense fan base for Apple products.
I won’t rehash the “bigthink” arguments about the best next direction for the GOP. I just want to propose that *if* they can improve their message and inspire genuine enthusiasm for a positive pro-freedom agenda, then rallying (and growing) the base won’t be a problem. Although I have a mixed opinion of Ronald Reagan policies, he was an acknowledged master at communicating an inspiring, upbeat message to the voters. If the GOP finds a good message and a good messenger, then the turnout problem will take care of itself.