Three Goals for the Republican National Convention

Posted on August 27, 2012

The curtain is rising on the multi-million dollar political extravaganza called the Republican National Convention. Aside from the non-stop behind-the-scenes partying and thousands of delegates wandering around Tampa wearing funny hats, this really isn't a political convention in any sense of the word. The nomination has been decided. The roll call of states is a mere formality which won’t even be covered by the major TV networks.

Given that, how does one measure the success of this menagerie of pop political culture? Of course, various consultants and TV pundits will point to the polling "bounce" that the Romney-Ryan ticket will most likely get coming from several days of near nonstop media coverage. However, this lift in popular approval is almost always temporary. To be sure, if the Republicans spend millions on this extravaganza and don’t get even a small bump in the polls, that is profoundly bad for their ticket. But is a big "bounce" necessarily the most important goal of this convention? We don't think so.

If Mitt Romney wants to be the next President, he needs to achieve three goals at his convention.

First, he needs to show the American people he has a serious plan for rescuing the American economy. And by serious plan, we don't mean some vague talking points about government regulations and a promise to repeal ObamaCare. He needs real proposals that voters can sink their teeth into. Reagan has his bold tax cut plans in 1980. Romney-Ryan needs something similar.

Second, the Republican ticket desperately needs to start convincing voters that its economic plan – whatever that is – will actually work. The American people have virtually no faith in government, and rightfully so. Mitt Romney needs to prove that he will take bold actions to reign in the size and scope of the federal bureaucracy and that his policies will lead to prosperity. Deep in their hearts every American knows that Barack Obama has failed. Romney needs to convince them that his policies will succeed.

Third, and most importantly, is the issue of trust. The fact is that few voters, be they Democrats, Independents, Republicans, Tea Partiers or Libertarians actually trust the GOP political establishment. Mitt Romney needs to convince a large number of Americans to put their faith in him. It's not enough to have a good plan that seems like it will work. He needs to convince a skeptical public that he isn't yet another politician who talks good game, but once in office will preside over even more debt while cheering on the economically disastrous expansion of the welfare state.

George W. Bush ruined his Republican majority in 2006 by breaking faith with America's conservative voters. Even if Romney presents a great economic reform plan that a large portion of Americans believe can work, it won't do him any good unless he is able to rebuild that trust.