Dear Senator McCain and Governor Palin:
I realize that you both have advisors, speechwriters, publicists, pollsters and handlers. But how about taking some advice from a few of us out here in Real World Land? You know – those of use whose votes you are trying to get?
With six weeks until Election Day, the current meltdown of the financial markets comes at a precarious time. The way you characterize this situation has the potential to either solidify your current base and persuade independents thirsty for truth, or disappoint conservatives fed up with the “same old same old” and dissolve the lead you have so painstakingly earned in the past few weeks.
Senator McCain, you captured the public’s attention with the selection of Alaska governor Sarah Palin as your running mate. Not only did the Democrats underestimate the strength of conservatives’ support for Governor Palin, they were also stunned by the public’s furious reaction to Hollywood’s and the media’s smug and condescending attempts to smear Palin and her family. And Palin’s unabashedly conservative social views galvanized a previously tepid voter base on the right. All of this put Obama’s campaign on the defensive, and sent his poll ratings creeping downward, while yours saw a steady – and sometimes even dramatic – increase.
And then came Lehman Brothers, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the prospect of the $700 billion bailout. Suddenly, the John McCain who sounded like such a brave conservative three weeks ago is parroting the Left, calling for “more government intervention,” decrying “corporate greed,” and blaming Wall Street.
Within 48 hours, what has happened? A six-point slip in the polls. Why? Here’s my take on it: don’t try to out-Obama Obama. He’s got 47 years on you.
So what now? Well, how about this for a strategy instead? Why not take the same gutsy truth-telling approach to the economic issues that you have been taking on the social and domestic security issues? Tell the American public the truth: tell them that the crash-and-burn wasn’t caused by greedy financiers, but by government meddling and arm-twisting of the banks and other lenders, essentially forcing them to make bad business decisions by lending to millions of people who were poor credit risks. Tell the American public that this bad situation was made worse by allowing quasi-government agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to buy and sell these worthless mortgages.
Laura Hollis is an Associate Professional Specialist and Concurrent Associate Professor of Law at the University of Notre Dame, where she teaches entrepreneurship and business law. She is the author of the forthcoming publication, “Start Up, Screw Up, Scale Up: What Government Can Learn From the Best Entrepreneurs,” © 2014. Her opinions are her own, and do not reflect the position of the university. Follow her on Twitter: @LauraHollis61.