Presidential elections are at some level always about the future: Think Winston Churchill being defeated on the cusp of victory in World War II, not because he didn’t lead Britain to victory, but because British voters looked to the future and for an end to wartime austerity and privation.
This year’s U.S. presidential election is also about the future, however. With Paul Ryan on the ticket, this election is not just about what the government should do – or not do – for the next four years; it is about what the government should not do for decades to come.
And according to Ryan, what the government should not -- and cannot do -- is to continue on the destructive path of deficits and debt upon which Barack Obama has placed it.
Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” budget plan is not a typical annual federal budget that tells the government how many pencils it can buy. It is a roadmap to returning America to economic greatness by eliminating the deficit spending and reducing the “overhead” of government that now consumes some $3.8 trillion a year from the U.S. economy.
To do this under the Ryan plan takes over 28 years -- that’s 15 congressional elections and 7 presidential elections.
Many conservatives, me included, gave Ryan some credit for having the gumption to at least propose a plan to get a grip on federal spending and eliminate the debt and deficit, but to us his plan was not the bold action required to save America from a fast-approaching Greek-like economic crisis.
Of course the notion that there might be real limits imposed upon federal spending is anathema to Democrats, who quickly labeled Ryan’s plan “radical” and began a sustained campaign to scare Social Security and Medicare recipients into voting against anything that smacked of reforming those programs.
Democrat “Medi-scare” campaigns and other senior citizen scare tactics have worked in the past because Republicans couldn’t coherently explain the need for reform and usually folded the first time they got a tough question or the unions ran an ad showing the GOP pushing granny off a cliff.
However, with Paul Ryan on the ticket that won’t be a problem. Ryan is an effective, passionate and eloquent spokesman for his plan and the need for spending reform.
What’s more, Republicans won’t be mired in a debate over how many pencils, or solar panels, or green cars the government should buy next year. The debate will be about where America goes for the next three decades.
Obama and the Democrats have no plan, except more of the same spending, debt and taxes that are starting to make America look like East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Being "the Party of the Future" is scary to many establishment Republican insiders and DC political consultants, who much prefer a content-free campaign fought on terms the media sets and with which the Democrats are entirely at home.
This of course was a recipe for defeat, because to win, Governor Romney has always needed to make his campaign all about a brighter economic future for Americans. However, Romney’s Chamber of Commerce-friendly message wasn’t really getting through the clutter or even exciting the Republican base until he chose Ryan as his running mate.
The choice of Paul Ryan as Governor Romney's running mate means that the campaign is now all about what America will look like for the next 30 years. It also means that the GOP not only looks like "the Party of the Future," it is ready to be "the Party of the Future," if the Romney campaign and the national GOP adopt the conservative policy ideas Paul Ryan has made foundations of his path to prosperity economic plan.