2.9.12

WE WATCHED THE AMERICA THAT WORKED IN BLACK AND WHITE.

Our President had an instructive comment about the recent Republican convention.
"It was a rerun. We’d seen it before. You might as well have watched it on a black-and-white TV," Obama said, clearly enjoying himself. "If you didn’t DVR it, let me recap it for you. Everything is bad, it’s Obama’s fault, and Gov. Romney is the only one who knows the secret to creating jobs and growing the economy."
According to Our President's economic team, there is no secret. The Best and The Brightest expected doing nothing to do better than the results we've seen.  (Source.)


The populist part of the Republican base also senses, on some level, that the era of black-and-white television had features to recommend it.
Fishtown Republicans are first-hand witnesses to the decay in the roots of America.  They want a politician who speaks not only to what transpires at the economic surface of the country, but who understands and addresses what is taking place in the moral and cultural depths.  The residents of Fishtown understand deeply and implicitly — because they see it right in front of them — that America’s economic doldrums are not merely a matter of mismanagement at the top.  They’re a matter of long-term cultural decay at the bottom.  Or to use a different metaphor, Romney promises to be a better captain of a ship whose hull is decomposing — and the sailors who work below decks know that plotting a better course of navigation will not save the ship from its ultimate fate.

It’s largely the Fishtown Republicans that have proven so uncomfortable with Romney that they’ve lurched from one non-Rom to another, because Romney has given no vision that appeals to Fishtown Republicans.  A vision of managerial brilliance, of resplendent competence across a variety of organizational spheres, does not touch Fishtown residents where they are.  Romney needs to speak to the culture of Fishtown – to its decay, its present shambles, and to a hopeful future in which that culture is restrengthened and forms the basis of a renewed American economy.

Romney needs — and quickly — to develop a coherent, full-orbed vision of American renewal, one that begins at the roots of moral and cultural regeneration and extends through political and economic transformation.  He should explain that conservatism is compassionate because conservative economic policies best serve all Americans, including the poor — but he should also speak to renewing not only the policies and regulations but also the moral musculature and the cultural values that nurtured the most extraordinary economic expansion in human history.  That would be a vision and a basis for a movement.
"Fishtown" is a reference to a metaphor Charles Murray introduced to describe what we used to understand as a blue-collar ethnic neighborhood.  There's also reason for Republicans to emphasize the traditional virtues among what we used to understand as white-collar workers, or, today, as symbolic analysts.

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