While the last fours years have proved that President Barack Obama has one foot into the door of new era and the other foot still trapped back, in the election campaign for the past year and half Governor Mitt Romney turns out mostly to be an old timer. That is why Obama just got re-elected and Romney has failed in the 2012 US presidential election.
What is this new era? Since 2008, politically it means the so-called neo conservatism does not work and the philosophy has tilted more towards a hybrid of capitalism and socialism, being conservative and liberal, ideas from both West and East cultures; economically globalization has spread and balanced out the financial prowess more across the world, instead of the wealth that used to be accumulated only in a few western developed countries. Hence while the developing countries still face challenges in growth, the legacy western way of life is struggling too with such serious issues as job outsourcing, government in debt, and bank system overhauling.
The Big Picture
The big picture is that the western countries are going somehow down the hill, although not really declining, from superpowers to normal nations; while many other countries in the rest of the world are catching up and growing fast. During this historical transition, serious issues and challenges can pop up and need wise solutions or treatment.
This is the brand new era we are facing, a drastic change since the 18th century when the West started to lead the world into the modern time. The measure of a statesman or politician in today’s United of States, based how he or she plans to cope with this new era and challenging situation is the No 1 measurement for top leadership qualifications.
Leader: Define Yourself
While US voters know Obama is not perfect, Romney hasn’t shown any evidence that he can do better either. During one of the presidential debates, when a woman asked Romney to distinguish himself from the former President George W Bush who is deemed to have triggered the entire crisis for the country, he couldn’t really answer the question well.
Everyone knows Obama didn’t cause the severe problems the US is facing today. Instead he was elected four years ago to fix the problems, although to date not to the people’s satisfaction. So if Romney wanted to effectively take over the game, he needed to demonstrate clearly how he was going to do very differently from his Republican fellowmen four years ago, both conceptually and tactically, otherwise his campaign was doomed from Day 1.
21st Century Leadership
Hence a real leader would need to radiate a good feel about the changing world and social-economic landscape. It isn’t as easy or simple as saying we just go back to the policies of the good old days, like those Ronald Reagan adopted successfully, because now the world is very different.
Back in Reagan’s time, it is true the US had suffered from an economic slowdown too, but the country was still in a dominant position in the world, from almost all perspectives. That provided some good leeway for the US to recover in its own way.
Romney Disqualifies Himself
Back then, the Soviet Union posed some threat, but only militarily. Japan might have generated some economic competition. But today we are facing multiple challenges, not just nuclear weapons from Iran or economic pressure from China, because the whole world is catching up. All this makes it really tough for the US to step out of the current curve of downturn in its own old ways, because whatever this country does here would get closely integrated and often constrained by key factors from the rest of the world.
So when Mr. Romney just touted his legacy Republican formula of “small government plus hard-line foreign policies,” that easily brings back the memory of the reckless and self-centered George W Bush era that most voters would find hard to endorse. It’s simply out of date. The US needs strategic new thinking and leaders in this transitional historical moment. Again Obama may not be the ideal fit for this, but Romney basically disqualified himself.