Mitt Romney’s speech to the NAACP Wednesday deserved derision, because it illuminated the problem with Mitt Romney: a failure to lead with a principled program.
How do you go before the nation’s premiere African American organization and say you will eradicate the signature achievement of the nation’s first black president without outlining exactly what you’d replace it with?
I will reduce government spending. Our high level of debt slows GDP growth and that means fewer jobs. If our goal is jobs, we must, must stop spending over a trillion dollars more than we earn. To do this, I will eliminate expensive non-essential programs like Obamacare.
A “non-essential program?” It’s much worse than non-essential. It will ruin the practice of medicine in this country. But how will Romney help the uninsured? Get off your jet ski and tell us!
The booing at his mention of eliminating Obamacare was immediately followed by applause when he actually offered up a concrete proposal, albeit on a different issue: means testing Medicare and Social Security.
With the exception of education, where there were at least suggestions of things he might do because he did them as governor of Massachusetts, the speech was mainly platitudes, China bashing, and the Keystone pipeline.
Many barriers remain. Old inequities persist.
If equal opportunity in America were an accomplished fact, then a chronically bad economy would be equally bad for everyone. Instead, it’s worse for African Americans in almost every way.
So is there still rampant racism in America that keeps black people down? Who’s going to create equal opportunity – the government? I thought conservatism was about fighting discrimination where you see it but otherwise providing opportunity for all, not special groups.
The people in this audience are no different than anyone else. They want to know what Romney will do.
As you may have heard from my opponent, I am also a believer in the free-enterprise system. I believe it can bring change where so many well-meaning government programs have failed. I’ve never heard anyone look around an impoverished neighborhood and say, “You know, there’s too much free enterprise around here. Too many shops, too many jobs, too many people putting money in the bank.”
Wonderful, Romney is for free enterprise. So, is he going to cut taxes or fight attempts to raise them? Well, you wouldn’t get the answer from Romney’s speech. Even though low taxes are, according to conservative thought, the main driver of economic growth.
A few in the audience might even be swayed if he moved from generalities to explaining exactly how conservative proposals will help the black community, rather than just asserting the miracle of the free enterprise system.
Romney is not going to be loved by the black community – not in the near term, anyway. But he might have earned some respect yesterday. And yes, even some votes.
Black people know things are bad in their communities. Nearly a half century of rapidly expanding social programming hasn’t helped. They might have been open to a different message. Had they gotten one.