Mitt Romney and the Rise of Practicalism

Mitt Romney and the Rise of Practicalism

By Reed Galen - October 20, 2012

With two presidential debates in the books, two things are clear: First, Mitt Romney has demonstrated a command of the issues the next president will face. Second, of the two candidates, only Romney spends any significant time talking about what he’s going to do when elected.

Despite President Obama’s resurgence in Tuesday’s town-hall debate at Hofstra University, the incumbent spent far more time criticizing Romney’s plans and blaming George W. Bush -- if not by name, then by inference -- for the problems facing this country.

The most consistent feature of Obama’s performances is that he does not offer a vision for the future, or a plan he’s willing to share with voters -- either because he knows it will be unpopular or because he doesn’t actually have one.

Indeed, the president has not shied away from blaming Congress for what ails us, despite inheriting a filibuster-proof Democratic majority in both houses of Congress for half of his first term. As his own vice president said, Obama gives the impression he just wants Congress to “get out of the way.” This is far easier than actually working with them.

If elected president, Romney will have his work cut out for him with the folks on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. But he gives the impression that he’s more likely than Obama to work constructively with the stubborn denizens of Capitol Hill.

On Tuesday night, Romney reminded voters of his central role in the dramatic resurrection of the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics. This is exactly what voters want to hear after four years of a president who tells Americans why the record of his predecessor and the agenda of the opposition party bar him from successfully managing the country’s problems.

In the first debate, Romney conveyed that he understands the very concept of compromise means not everyone at the bargaining table gets what they want -- that’s not the goal. The goal is to achieve the best possible outcome in confronting a given issue -- actually solving a problem while giving everyone something they can take home as a win.

This is the kind of president this country needs right now. We don’t need vague slogans like “Forward” or “Change you can believe it.”

We need a person who knows what it’s like to look across the table at someone with a different viewpoint and a contrasting agenda -- and yet somehow have the temperament and skill to forge a mutually agreeable conclusion.

We also need someone who will not allow the ideologues among the loyal opposition -- or the special interest groups in his own party -- to derail the process of governing. Spirited debate is essential and necessary. Pulling out symbolic bogeymen to torch potential solutions is not.

We need someone who understands that beliefs are an important component of decision-making. But we also need someone who not only can diagnose the underlying issues causing the symptoms we face today, but how to work collaboratively across party lines to get the best deal possible for all involved.

In this case, it’s the best deal for the American people. Isn’t that what this is all about? 

Reed Galen is a political strategist in California. He was John McCain's deputy campaign manager until July 2007.

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