I really liked this editorial from the Wall Street Journal, Why Not Paul Ryan? While I agree with WSJ's argument favoring Ryan as Romney's VP pick, I think the more important aspect of the article is its focus on how we should be defining this election. Ryan's doggedness in bringing attention to our fiscal and budget problems, pushing forward a responsible plan for dealing with these problems and serving as an (if not 'the') intellectual anchor for the Republicans in the Senate combine with his steadiness and presentation to make him an excellent choice for VP. But the WSJ is absolutely correct in saying that Romney should be making every effort to define this campaign and the future of our country as a contest between 'big' issues and those that are really quite 'small.' From the editorial:
"Personalities aside, the larger strategic point is that Mr. Romney's best chance for victory is to make this a big election over big issues. Mr. Obama and the Democrats want to make this a small election over small things—Mitt's taxes, his wealth, Bain Capital. As the last two months have shown, Mr. Romney will lose that kind of election.
"To win, Mr. Romney and the Republicans have to rise above those smaller issues and cast the choice as one about the overall direction and future of the country. Americans tell pollsters they are anxious and unhappy precisely because they instinctively know the country is troubled in ways it hasn't been since the 1970s. They know the economy is growing too slowly to raise middle-class incomes, while the government is growing too fast to be affordable.
"Above all, Americans are hungry for leadership. They want leaders willing to take on the hard issues, preferably without the rancor and polarization that have defined Mr. Obama's Presidency. But they will reward leaders who succeed despite the rancor, as Wisconsin voters showed by their huge turnout in support of Governor Scott Walker this year.
"Whatever doubts Americans may have about Mr. Romney's empathy or background, more of them will turn out for him if they see a leader with a vision and plan worthy of the current difficult moment. This is the kind of candidate and message that voters need to see in the Republican convention this month and into the fall, and it is the message that Mr. Romney's choice of a running mate should reinforce."
To the extent Americans continue to be distracted by petty issues peddled by petty people, we shall find our country a pale reflection of what it once was and a shadow of what it could be not only for us but for the rest of the world too. I steadfastly believe that a substantial portion of the answer to this problem is the lack of meaningful education in our education system; Americans have little real knowledge and understanding of where we came from, how we got to where we are at, the actual principles upon which our country was founded (not just the words, such as 'life', 'liberty', etc. but the principles those words represent), why those principles are so important and why our government is structured the way it is. When we neglect our foundation, the edifice built upon that foundation will surely crumble. Let's get back to the basics, shall we?