To me, the ideology of American exceptionalism is rational rather than emotionally triggered.  It’s imperative for foreign policy in the 21st century is clarified by the most neutral assessment of world history, whose ever-persistent patterns have been to dissolve human freedom and to enshrine tyrannical regimes.  America’s role has been to insist that the cause of liberty and democracy advances abroad as unapologetically and unflinchingly as our adversaries pursue the path of dictatorship and the stifling impact it entrenches on the human spirit.

I am not of the opinion that President Obama has been competent in the foreign policy that he has calibrated, which immediately sought to reduce American influence abroad with his apology tour that seemed more of a false equivalency pandering tour to our critics. Wait, that is an apology.  To me, his pursuit of leadership from behind is inherently oxymoronic as well as unworthy of the intellectual dynamism the left wing media attributes to his platform without justification. It is far too reminiscent of the Prime Directive in Star Trek, which prohibited the United Federation of Planets from interfering in the determinations of other cultures on non-affiliated planets.  Only in the genre of science fiction did the Prime Directive prove plausible.  In the real world, such policy is a great recipe for surrender to modern day Romulans and Cardassians (ie. Russia and China and Iran and Pakistan and …).  The present day parallel to the Federation is the United Nations, and its feckless methodology to foresee the advancement of the human rights on which it was founded has not dissuaded President Obama from advocating the backseat role he presumes America must take to international consensus.

America must represent free enterprise, free speech, and free thinking domestically in order to live up to its role internationally as a protector.  Earlier on in President Obama’s tenure, the Conservative movement seemed to discover the centrality of freedom in America itself by virtue of its contrast to the visionary policy that President Obama subjected the country to.  Opposition to President Obama became enthused by a sense of reactionary political demonstration against a tyrant who like Socialist and Progressive luminaries before him, possessed a talent for pronouncing the public good in lockstep with policy that stripped the public of its resources to determine such for itself.

Obama’s presidency is steeped in the ambition to tell the American people a story rather than to tell them the truth.  As a consequence, Americans everywhere have come to depend on government paternalism and to reject the values of self-reliance.  It has become evident in opinion polls that President Obama’s re-election strategy hinges on his capacity to convince the American people that he cares.  So far, that strategy has worked due to his Republican rival’s android persona on the campaign trail, where he has consistently failed to resonate as in touch with ordinary people.  What Romney needed to do in response, yet has lacked the courage to do, is to suggest that it is not really a caring administration that is presiding because it has not been responsible love that it handed out.  Instead, it has manipulated the American people with the crude psychological tactics of division, pivoting Americans against each other.  Rich v. Poor.  Caucasians v. Minorities.  Corporations v. Unions.

Romney’s Republican convention speech came across like Star Trek’s Data, the robot who would rather attain human emotion than rise in his career on the basis of his better than human reasoning.  Romney’s mistake was to attempt to bridge an insurmountable deficit between him and Obama on caring rather than to double down on his efforts to emphasize his policy, where he is more trusted than Obama yet not by nearly enough points to win the election.  What this means is that President Obama is dictating the tone of the election and Romney would rather play catch up than do anything that will be victory-ensuring.  Liberal criticism that Romney did not unveil specific policy in his speech is absolutely correct and reflects the public view.  Romney’s only hope to recover in the election was to dig back at Obama, countering the charge of trickle down economics with a catch phrase like trickle down government and arguing that Obama is the one who is out of touch for taking away the dignity of their own accomplishments with the “you didn’t build that” mantra.  But there was no spirit of counterpoint and thrusting of his message.  Rather, fear and softness were on display.  Obama was not reprimanded.

In addition to missing a golden opportunity to obstruct Obama’s records, he should have been aggressive towards the legacy of George W. Bush and contrasted Bush’s approach to raising the deficit and excessive domestic programs and nation building abroad to his own policy.  By fighting against twelve years of malaise, and praising President Bill Clinton a little, Romney could have stripped the arguments that Obama and Clinton will articulate out of their mouths.  Obama’s approach of using public rancor against George W. Bush as a flotation raft for re-election would have been burst.  They could have made huge inroads by adapting Clinton’s famous proclamation that the era of big government is over a cornerstone of a rising Republican Party, rising from the ashes of the mistakes George W. Bush had rendered.

Romney also was part of the chorus of speechmakers conjuring American exceptionalism out of the cloud vapor of lofty metaphors that made the lyrics of America the Beautiful seem trifling in its praise and delightfully brief by comparison.  American exceptionalism is not abstract and it is not edifying based on the emotional resonance of patriotism alone.  On the contrary, its impact has been tangible.  By invoking these messages and sentimental pleas for exceptionalism, I could not help but to be reminded of George W. Bush, whose conviction of American expeptionalism echoed in every appearance yet failed to channel American might productively abroad.  His approach to Iraq and Afghanistan were too enmeshed in the impossible dream of nation-building and extended the wars far past public tolerance for their duration.  In addition, his administration was responsible for the elections of Hamas in Gaza and the foundation for the failed sanctions appoach that Obama has adapted in Iran.  Politically, it would have been brilliant to reduce George W. Bush’s legacy.  But Romney’s approach is not to be incandescent.  It is his preference to be meek and incapacitated.

The RNC was a celebratory event, but it needed to be theatrical and captivating as the verve of the Tea Party against Obama.  However, as this elections turns out, I feel my Conservative insights are more suited to science fiction writing than the way the Republican Party actually grapples with campaign adversity.

 Aaron Lasker | University of Pennsylvania |@GOPopinjay