Mary Grabar
Republicans, especially those within the ranks of the establishment, have insisted that during this general presidential election, it is upon the policies—not the person—of Barack Obama that they will set their sights.

This judgment is understandable enough.

For one, Obama is a Democrat. As such, he has the juggernaut of the so-called mainstream press behind him. Republicans, that is, are at a considerable disadvantage in the public relations war.

Also, and at least as importantly, the Democratic occupant of the White House has been universally hailed as America’s “first black president.”

Considering that decades worth of leftist propaganda courtesy of the media and the Democratic Party has succeeded in creating the popular perception that Republicans don’t like blacks, it would be all too easy for Mitt Romney and company to be portrayed as “racist.”

Of course, Romney and his supporters are already depicted as “racist.” And as time draws nearer to Election Day, charges of “racism” promise to accelerate in both frequency and intensity.

There is another reason why Republicans may want to reconsider playing things too close to the vest.

Simply put, the voter does not live by policy alone.

The economy is the most important issue for the electorate, so talk of debts and deficits is imperative. However, most of us don’t get too terribly excited about numbers, and when those numbers are in the billions and trillions, the average person will not relate to such abstractions.

But if economic (and other issues) are situated within the context of a story, then otherwise dead facts can be brought to life.

Actually, even this is an understatement of the power of narrative in politics. Obama, for instance, spoke scarcely of facts at all in the election of 2008. Rather, he espoused glittering (yet entirely vapid) rhetorical generalities and scored a decisive victory over his opponent.

What Obama knows is what all great orators and rhetoricians have always known: the heart is much easier to move than the head.

It seems that if they didn’t know it before, Republicans are now beginning to discover this as well. This, at any rate, is what can reasonably be taken away from two recent developments: Ann Romney’s speech at the Republican National Convention and Dinesh D’Souza’s documentary, 2016: Obama’s America. Together, these two phenomena may very well have swung the election decidedly in Mitt Romney’s favor.

Mary Grabar

Mary Grabar earned her Ph.D. in English from the University of Georgia and teaches in Atlanta. She is organizing the Resistance to the Re-Education of America at Her writing can be found at