Knocked Out, Dazzled, and Slightly Intimidated

I think I have this thing where everybody has to think I’m the greatest, the quote unquote “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” And if they aren’t completely knocked out and dazzled and slightly intimidated by me, I don’t feel good about myself. — Mr. Fox, from Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox

Thanks to Iowa we are finally in the actual contest. There will be winners. There will be losers. And there will be losers who’ll tell us they won. The end can’t come quickly enough.

In looking the field over, most everyone has a problem with everyone. Contrary to what we would like to believe, no one is perfect. No one has been right on every issue. No one will make only the right decisions in the future. We know this about the candidates because we know it about ourselves. Yet Republican primary voters seem lost as they look for someone better than they are. An inspiration who is larger than life, a little intimidating, and who is always, definitively, right.

Republicans want their own Fantastic Mr. Fox.

Is that really what America needs? Another Mr. Fox? Do we need a Republican nominee who packs stadiums and outdoor parks; who tells us to our faces that Americans are a good and decent people but behind closed doors calls us bitter; who lectures rather than listens?

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I know a small business owner who started a clothing boutique right in the middle of the recession. An exceptionally accomplished person both academically and professionally, she wanted to do something different. To follow a dream with no guarantee of success. After a more than a year of careful planning, navigating local, state, and federal regulations, and laying out her own capital, she opened her store. That is inspirational.

I know an architect in the Pacific Northwest who helped his firm survive the devastating downturn in construction. Firms larger and smaller than his failed. He and other principals in the firm cut their pay to avoid the most severe layoffs. A relentless pursuit of work—privately and publicly funded—saved the firm, which is now well positioned for the recovery. That is inspirational.

I know of a small clothing designer in New Orleans whose main overseas supplier increased costs to the point she no longer could afford to have her product manufactured. Rather than close her doors, the designer took her appeal public, securing sufficient funds to purchase her own looms and manufacture her product in New Orleans. That is inspirational.

Republicans don’t need a nominee who will inspire us. We need a nominee who is inspired by us.

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You have similar stories about people who have inspired you. These experiences make the case for a nominee who actually knows what it’s like on the job creation side of the economic ledger and is inspired by risk takers.

We also have examples of families and businesses that didn’t survive these past three years. These stories make the case for a nominee who has the proven ability to promote economic growth. Few things inspire confidence and stability like a paycheck.

Mr. Romney was recently named “Mr. Good Enough” on the editorial pages of The Wall Street Journal. The line that grabbed my attention was “Mark this down as the triumph of strategy over inspiration.” What is wrong with that?

Do shareholders prefer inspiration over profits? Do voters prefer fire in the belly of their candidate over food in their own? Do we simply want a sideshow; an emotional appeal that can be summed up as “USA is A-OK?” Not even Rome was saved by bread and circuses.

If you need inspiration, take a good look around you. And if you’re tired of Mr. Fox, take a look at Mr. Romney.

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