Romney’s melancholy but useful role has been to refute those determinists who insist that economic conditions are almost always decisive. Americans are earning less and worth less than they were four years ago; average household income is down $3,800; under the 11 presidents from Harry Truman through George W. Bush, unemployment was 8 percent or more for a total of 39 months but was above that for 43 Obama months. Yet voters preferred the president who presided over this to a Republican who, more than any candidate since the Great Depression, made his economic expertise his presidential credential. —George F. Will
Conservative Columnist George Will has often chided the chattering academic classes for their misapplied and distorted contention that in modern societies, cultural issues would subside, national interests would disintegrate, and emotionally charged values would dissipate into conflicts in the Marxist dialectic of class and materialism.
From 9-11, to the Islamic jihad warring across the Middle East, to the leisure class—nay, lifestyle—of Southern Europeans compared to the diligent determinism of the North, the cultural aspects of community have determined politics in our times more, not less. Ethnic conflict has defined the growing warfare throughout the globe, from the invasion of Iraq, one which President George W. Bush tellingly, though inadvertently, called a "Crusade," to Iran's threat to "wipe Israel from the face of the earth."
This trend of culture over cashe was revealed as the real divide in the United States' 2012 election, even though pundits both left and right expected that economics would determine the trajectory of the election. One heard Reagan's "Are you better off after four years?" with a latent hint of Clinton's "It's the Economy. Stupid!" Nevertheless, President Obama still presides over a country with high unemployment, record enrollment onto federal subsidies, and a growing debt which is eroding our wealth and weal in the world. He still must manage a divided Congress, which reflects the divided identities of this country.
More than just money "matters"; not what's in the bank account, but why anyone has it there, and what they do with—those are the values that move voters, and they count. Respect also counts for the identity and the legacy of those who have come to this country looking for a better life, and they perhaps felt "alienated" by a fiscal manager who was looking at the budget deficits, yet ignored the cultural poverty which afflicts our schools, which conflicts with the needs of our youth, and which inflicts a deeper sense of loss, which has been replaced by immediate attention to fixing problems instead of fixing this country's future on the "full story." Not "hope and change," but "expectation with prosperity" needs to be the heartbeat of our political culture, one which esteems the life and well-being of the citizen in his country instead of degrading him into slavish dependence or identity with the government.
Life is more than balancing budgets. A land is more than dollars and cents. The nation is more than cutting deficits. The country is more than slashing spending. The Framers of the Constitution instituted limited government not in order to have less of something, but in order to form "a more perfect union."
A growing diversity of people want to be "this American, this new man" which French-American transplant-turned-farmer Michel Guillaume Jean de Crèvecœur described in his "Letters from an American Farmer." The thriving farmer, often read in high school American History courses, did not identify with a percentage of people receiving a stipend from the state. He identified with the warming and welcoming liberty which he won in this country, the individual impulse which chooses to associate and promote the well-being of his fellow man. Diminish the size of the state, certainly; stop the spending, too; but Americans deserve to be reminded what America is all about. President Obama told stories, and a slimmer majority of voters were listening. The Republican Party can tell the story better, and now they can share this story with everyone, and encourage more of them to add their part.