Now that Mitt Romney has chosen his veep and the Republican National Convention is only days away, the upcoming election is finally taking a concrete shape. After months of bickering and insult-swapping (and that was just the Republican primaries!), the real shots are starting to be fired, with Obama’s campaign team targeting Romney, his choice of vice president, and what they together present as their platform.
The truth is, however, this election is boiling down to negative, not positive votes. You might be wondering what that means, since a negative vote sounds paradoxical. Let’s put it this way: Will you be voting for Obama/Romney because you support Obama/Romney? Or will you vote for Obama/Romney only because you don’t support Obama/Romney?
That’s pretty much the cornerstone of Niall Ferguson’s essay in this week’s Newsweek, “Hit the road, Barack”. Now that Ferguson would support Romney is no surprise. The sometime Harvard historian and prolific writer is openly conservative and worked for the McCain campaign. What is surprising, however, is that Ferguson’s article is less a promotion of Romney and more a detraction of Obama. He even writes, “Romney is not the best candidate for the presidency I can imagine. But he was clearly the best of the Republican contenders for the nomination.” Not quite a ringing endorsement, is it?
Of course part of any campaign is talking about the other guy’s failures, but at some point a candidate must be able to talk about his/her own track record, accomplishments and plans. Much of Obama’s campaign – and that of his supporters – is so far cut from similar cloth. Attack Romney is the name of the game. Whether it’s a tactic to detract attention from Obama’s own failings or out of genuine concern for America, that’s an assessment voters will have to make.
With Romney choice of Paul Ryan as a running mate, there is at least now a possibility that the discussion and debates will become more substantive, from both sides. Romney has the opportunity to present his plans for improving the American economy; as a result, the Democrat side can continue to critique Romney, but on policy matters, and, if the Obama camp is brave enough, combat Romney’s plans with concrete ideas of their own.
Maybe there’s still a chance this election can become a positive instead of negative one.
Are you happy with Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as a running mate? Or are you decided for four more years for Obama? Vote in the poll running on our homepage, and post a comment below sharing your view.
And for more analysis on the upcoming election, read “The Jewish take on Ryan” and “At conventions, which party will dig deeper into the Jewish vote?” on IJN.com.