Founders: Moneylife has been founded by Debashis Basu and Sucheta Dalal who bring a combined experience of 50 years of understanding business, regulatory and consumer and investor issues.
Debashis Basu is a Chartered Accountant by qualification with 25 years of experience as a journalist and the author of several business books. He has worked with The Times of India, Business World, Business India, Business Today, Financial Express and has written columns for Business Standard and The Economic Times. He has co-authored the best-selling The Scam: From Harshad Mehta to Ketan Parekh with Sucheta Dalal and has also authored Face Value: Creation and Destruction of Shareholder Value in India; Growth Alchemy: Why Smaller Firms Fail to Find Finance and How Market-based Solutions Can Help; Pathbreakers 1&2 and Plain Truth Series on Stocks, Mutual Funds and Investments. He was a member of the Task Force of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) on the creation of IndoNext market segment for smaller companies and served as the member of the mutual fund advisory committee of SEBI. He directs the research and reporting on financial products at Moneylife and also oversees the design and business aspects of Moneylife.
Governor Romney’s calculation may well be that the voter will swallow the more unpalatable part of his agenda and flock to him anyway because of the economy
Can Governor Romney win the economic argument but still lose the election? Yes he can. Can Governor Romney win the popular vote but lose the election? Ask Al Gore. Yes he can. Can Governor Romney only discuss the fault-lines in the economy till the elections and refuse to discuss anything else? No he can't.
America is so polarised right now that no matter how the economy goes it is quite possible that the election will go down right to the wire. It will be decided in a few swing states by a handful of voters making up their mind on Election Day. And elections are won by coalitions, which was understood by Ronald Reagan, the most popular Republican President in the last half century. He built a coalition by believing in what is known as the big tent-the idea that all sorts and stripes of views are welcome in the party. And this big tent approach to politics also helped President Reagan in governing for eight years with the help of what is known as Reagan Democrats who crossed party lines to regularly vote with the Republicans.
Given the rise of Tea Party politics, partisanship and bitterness, it might not be possible in 2012 for Governor Romney to make the Republicans party into a big tent-but what about a "quite a big tent party" or a "reasonably big tent party?" Doesn't Mitt Romney not need to reach out to more independent and moderate voters to seal the deal? How can the Republican Party have a litmus test for every issue? And only if you check the box on all the issues you are included and part of it, otherwise you are not. Ronald Reagan famously said that if someone supports me on four out of five issues then he is supporting me 80% of the time. So how a no taxes increase ever be a litmus test?
During the primaries when Governor Romney was taking particularly hard-line positions to counter Rick Santorum on the right, one of Governor Romney's advisors had said that the general election will require etch-a-sketch- a different type of approach and a different type of positioning. The time is now the Republican party needs to broaden their appeal. In an immigration speech last week Governor Romney changed his tone but obviously more is needed. He is not harping on the self deportation by immigrants which he talked about during the primaries and allowed for a way to green card for immigrants who joined the military. Governor Romney insists on opposing the Dream Act but it is for Florida senator Morco Rubio to come up with his own version of the Dream Act which makes the Republican party a more palatable for the Latino voting public.
Mitt Romney also needs to show his sensitivity on women's issues. For instance on the issue of all public employers providing contraception as part of the health coverage he initially said he would not enter the bedroom of people and discuss what was going on inside. A usual democratic and liberal manoeuvre but quickly recanted big position and announced that he would allow an exception to faith-based organisations. Governor Romney needs to flesh out and discuss many of these issues in a manner that is more inclusive.
His calculation may well be that the voter will swallow the more unpalatable part of his agenda and flock to him anyway because of the economy. He might well be right but too many elections have turned out to be squeakers. It is a chance the best not taken.
One chance he has to broaden his appeal in his choice of a vice-presidential candidate-someone with a different background and someone preferably from a different wing of the party. This could be an undoubtedly help to widen his appeal without being too explicit about it. Be that as it may Governor Mitt Romney should not forget Ronald Reagan.
(Harsh Desai has done his BA in Political Science from St Xavier's College & Elphinstone College, Bombay and has done his Master's in Law from Columbia University in the city of New York. He is a practicing advocate at the Bombay High Court.)