By Raynard Jackson
Now that both national party conventions have ended, it’s time to relfect. Most of the analysis you have seen or heard has been pretty much what was expected. Most of the political pundits live in an echo chamber—they all talk with each other and travel in similar social circles. I found very little fresh, insightful analysis. And that is also the problem with both campaigns. They both have staffed up with recycled consultants, who all have similar world views that are out of synch with the public.
Political conventions no longer have any useful purpose, especially as a news event. There is absolutely no news value—everything is scripted down to the last period. I think by most objective standards, Obama’s convention was far and away much better than Romney’s, substantively and stylistically.
The purported purpose of both conventions was to tell the American people what their respective visions was for America over the next four years. That approach is so 20th century. People no longer want to be talked to; they want to be talked with. Both conventions were presented as a Hollywood production that ignored the realities of everyday people.
People want to hear about thoughtful solutions to the issues that are most on their minds – the economy, education, job creation. Obama’s solution to everything is, “give me more time.” Romney’s solution seems to be, “I am not Obama.”
Neither candidate is being truthful with the American people. Conventional wisdom is people want to be made to feel good. It reminds me of the scene in the movie Monster’s Ball with Halle Berry and Billy Bob Thornton. Before the raw sex scene, Berry looks very passionately into Thornton’s eyes and says, “Make me feel good.” Thornton proceeds to just that. But guess what, after the thrill was gone, she was still facing all of the problems she had before the sex. So, the moral of the story is that whenever you ask someone to “make you feel good,” it has little lasting value.
Most of the punditocracy constantly talk about who gave the better speech, who looked good in what suit, or who had the most excited audience. People who attend these events, on both sides, are the die-hards from each party. They are not reflective of the average voter who goes to work every day.
Americans feel totally disconnected from their elected officials and their government. They have absolutely no faith or confidence in politicians. This is why New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is so appealing. You may not like his policies, but people feel like he is telling them what he really believes.
Can someone tell me how a person’s wife can make her husband look more “human” as the pundits claim Ann Romney was trying to do at the Republican convention? This is supposed to be analysis? Are you kidding me? As likable as Michelle Obama is, do you really think people go into the voting booth and say Michelle is nice, therefore I am going to vote for her husband? Has the media become this dumbed-down?
Ultimately, people will vote for the person they feel a connection to and one they feel will make their lives better. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
Obama makes people feel good, but has produced no vision for the future. Romney does not connect with people at all and has produced no vision for the future. So, if the election is run based on personality, then Obama wins. Romney has less than two months to give voters a reason to change leaders. In boxing, it’s almost impossible for a challenger to defeat the champion on points. The challenger must knock out the champion. Romney’s window for doing this is closing fast.
Based on performance, I cannot vote for Obama. Based on message, I don’t have a reason to vote for Romney. Herein lies the big problem for Romney: Many people who voted for Obama in 2008 are totally dissatisfied with him, but Romney has not made himself a viable alternative. He must deliver a knock-out blow to Obama fairly soon or it’s four more years!
Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a Washington, D.C.-based public relations/government affairs firm. He can be reached through his Web site, www.raynardjackson.com.