Too much money. Could that be the core reason for Mitt Romney’s lack of success during this primary season? As strange as it sounds, I am becoming convinced that his ability to draw on his own millions may have hindered his campaign. While most of us chuckle at the idea of too much money causing problems and would welcome the opportunity to test the thesis, consider these cases.
A number of years ago I read a charming wedding announcement. The bride and groom met through an online dating program. As they connected and began to explore a relationship the young man found his match to be tremendously reticent about her employment. She wouldn’t even reveal her last name! He finally concluded that she worked for an intelligence agency and only hoped it was the CIA rather than the KGB. Once she trusted him, the truth came out. She was an heiress working for the family company and worried that the wrong sort of man would be attracted by her bank account rather than by her essence.
I know another gentleman in his mid-thirties who has been singularly unsuccessful in establishing a career. The problem? As the recipient of an annual endowment from a trust set up by his late grandparents, he isn’t hungry enough to put in the necessary “grunt hours” needed to master skills. The idea of working diligently for significantly less than he gets for just breathing has become an obstacle in his life. He’s a talented guy, but life has come just a little too easy for him.
Mitt Romney earned his money honestly and can use it as he wishes. But perhaps he should have initially assigned a certain amount of seed money to his campaign. Thereafter, he could have used his own money only to the extent it matched the donations he received. I think the benefits would have been two-fold. Firstly, market forces would have helped his campaign focus more on the values and arguments needed to win a presidential battle rather than on attacking his opponents. By making his supporters’ vital partners in his campaign he could have used his many aptitudes and abilities to build a more appealing platform. Secondly, he would have more of an appreciation for the voters. When you depend upon an avalanche of $35 donations, you recognize that each person is important. In a country that believes in ‘one man, one vote’ that is a valuable lesson. Furthermore, anytime someone reaches into their pocket and gives you money that person has invested in you. That builds the grassroots troops necessary to beat President Obama.
Mitt Romney will not be able to outspend Barack Obama through his personal resources. Neither will he be able to run a negative campaign without alienating the people whose support he needs. He has wasted much of this lengthy and rather miserable primary season by relying on money rather than on developing a strong platform. Whether he wins or loses the nomination, his wealth may well have been one of his biggest drawbacks.