While there was talk of "ideas" from many of the speakers, this was an opening night less about ideology and more about a serious appeal to their fellow Americans to do what most people know instinctively, if not in actuality, must be done: We can't go on spending as if there is no tomorrow, or there won't be and America will become a second-class country.
"Our ideas are right for America and their ideas have failed America," said Christie. Democrats may argue that point, but the evidence is on the side of the Republicans.
Voters want to know if they give power to Republicans again in this election so soon after the last time the party held all three branches of government whether things will be different. Will Republicans actually fix entitlement programs, create more jobs and do the hard things Christie spoke about? Or, will Republicans simply manage big government, cutting a little here and a little there, which will have no lasting effect on government growth?
Perhaps Mitt Romney will, like Ann, make his own "solemn commitment" to do these things in his acceptance speech Thursday night. Americans are wary of politicians who make grand promises (as President Obama's poll numbers suggest). But now is the time for not only grand promises, but also grand solutions -- Republican solutions.
Christie said at the end of his speech that we can make this a "second American century." We can, but the question is less about our ability than our willingness. That is what the coming election will determine.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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