“The most powerful thing on our side is this: we’re right, and they’re wrong.” Governor Chris Christie

With just that one simple sentence in his address to CPAC’s conference in Chicago this past June, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie brilliantly established the framework necessary for conservatism’s winning argument both in November and beyond. Unlike President Obama’s unfortunate reliance on divisiveness and distraction, our strategy must be the bigger one, and entail a laser sharp focus on the issues and their solutions. I join Governor Christie in holding the belief that because our principles are right, the success of our ideological case to the American people can be won strictly through offering solutions of temerity towards the monumental challenges that face this nation.

Tonight, Americans throughout the ideological spectrum will be presented with their maiden opportunity to witness the two candidates debate on the same stage. As such, Governor Romney must execute the words and sentiment of his keynote speaker by utilizing tonight’s setting to shift the national discussion towards that of policy and proposals rather than blame, division, and distraction. Such a need is only heightened by tonight’s designation as the domestic policy debate, presenting Governor Romney with an opportune potentiality to forecast his means of reform.

Though it’s a safe bet that the questions to follow have not made their way onto Jim Lehrer’s list for tonight’s debate, my hope is that they will make their way onto your list as a self-administered exercise of presidential accountability. Thus, when contemplating President Obama’s presumptive inability to properly answer the following desired debate questions, perhaps you will understand why the Obama campaign has resorted to the aforementioned electoral strategy that pusillanimously accents virtually every other regard but empirical improvement. Perhaps, as the viral quip states, you will understand why the President attempts to make the American people care more about what Governor Romney has done with his own money rather than what the President has done with ours. Most importantly, perhaps you will understand why our focusing on the issues and subsequent solutions precisely encompasses our winning argument.

Question One: Mr. President, how much exactly constitutes a “fair share?”

The odious and inaccurate talking point suggesting that hard working Americans are not ‘paying their fair share’ is the exact type of class warfare rhetoric that demonstrates an electoral strategy stemming from economic failure. Beginning with sheer arithmetic, the President and I must be reading wildly different statistics, as mine display the top 1% accounting for roughly 40% of all income taxes paid, the top 5% accounting for roughly 60% of all income taxes paid, and the top 20% accounting for roughly 86% of all income taxes paid. Contrariwise, the bottom 50% of all Americans account for just fewer than 3% of all income taxes paid, and 46.4% of Americans pay no income taxes whatsoever. While President Obama and I agree on the sentiment that not all Americans are ‘paying their fair share’, our divergence arrives on identifying just who exactly these Americans are.

Our response to the frightening realization that roughly half of Americans pay no federal income tax must be to enable these citizens to pay taxes. Arriving as a product of fiscal discipline, we must construct our economic policies around the central reality that Washington does not have a revenue problem, but rather a spending problem. Once enacted, we can become the ideology that fosters an environment in which more and better paying jobs can be created. Thus, in addition to eliminating wasteful government spending, revenues can be received by broadening the tax base through empowerment, as opposed to exhausting it through divisiveness. Real economic growth holds both the taxpayer’s key to the 47%’s fair share, as well as the conservative’s key to the 83% share of independents that wish to see all Americans pay income taxes. In concert with Governor Christie’s words, I believe the facts support our winning case.

Question Two: Mr. President, why should you be given a second term given your self-proclaimed inability to change Washington?

As an individual who went from the Illinois General Assembly to President-elect of the United States in the brief span of four years, the American people pardoned Barack Obama’s blatant inexperience because of the collective embracement of his projected ability to change Washington’s unacceptable status quo. The American people accepted (or for us conservatives, inherited) the notion of ‘change’ as virtually the only means of assessment when considering the prospect of rehiring President Obama on November 6th, 2012. As a result, change, more so than economic improvement, recovery, or growth was immediately established as the lens in which the progress of President Obama’s first term is to be gauged.

Thus, when President Obama alerted the nation in September that “the most important lesson I’ve learned is that you can’t change Washington from the inside,” every change-based tenet of his 2008 campaign was officially trumped by the reality of his failed expectations. Beyond his inability to improve, recover, or grow the economy, the President’s failure to generate change – the very source of his improbable 2008 election, is the most important lesson that we have learned since January of 2009.

Question Three: Mr. President, if you described adding $4 trillion to the national debt as “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic” in 2008, what words would you use for allowing our debt to surpass $16 trillion?

In addition to the obvious economic burden that inherently arrives as a result of an administration that will add more to our outstanding debt than totaled by the previous 43 presidents, the digits on our national debt clock further tell the time passed on a stale visionary. The President’s unparalleled worsening of our national debt firstly demonstrates an approach that has purely failed. Big government spending achieved through vehicles such as the $1.7 trillion Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, stimulus package, and bailouts does not yield the pathway towards recovery. Put candidly, if a Martian observed the President’s consistent embracement of governmental spending, it would conclude that our fiscal climate is superabundantly sound, and certainly not mired in over $16,000,000,000,000 in debt. The President’s economic approach and lack of urgency has played its respective role in the nation’s dismal statistics, as our prized AAA rating has been lost, unemployment has not made its way below 8.1%, and undesirable numbers have plagued economic areas that range from household incomes to gas prices.

Further, the President’s unsuccessful efforts to tackle the national debt serves as the economic medium of his aforementioned inability to provide the American people with promised change. There are not many instances in which it can be empirically proved with video that Barack Obama the candidate would directly take issue with Barack Obama the President. Candidate Obama’s previous assessment of a $4 trillion addition to the national debt as “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic” is certainly one of them.

As an ideology with a legitimate opportunity to reassume the White House and both chambers of Congress, our opportunity to validate growing sentiments of buyer’s remorse arrives with this vital issue of our national debt. The fact that balancing the budget has emerged as a partisan issue further indicates the gravity of our need to earn the support of the American electorate. We must use candidate Obama’s economic aspirations to not only foil the reality of the President’s egregious approach to our national debt, but also Mitt Romney’s gubernatorial record of balancing the Massachusetts budget each year (accomplished without borrowing or raising taxes). Ultimately, the fundamental difference between the two current candidates is their ability (or inability) to respond to the concerns of 2008’s candidate Obama.

Question Four: Mr. President, your party held a majority in Congress for the majority of your term. Why then must you continue to blame Congressional Republicans for your lack of leadership?

I believe that Governor Christie once again encapsulated yet another critical component of this most important election with the explanation that President Obama is “walking around in a dark room trying to find the light switch of leadership.” A presidential mindset that is so staunchly centered on blaming and dividing does not exude leadership – it obstructs it.

To the President, it does not matter that he experienced the political luxury of presiding over a Congressional majority for his first two years. It does not matter that the American people sent a clear message against his policies at the ballot box in November of 2010. It does it matter that his party has been unable to pass a budget in 1,253 days, or that his own budget was unable to garner a single vote by a Member of Congress. To the President, what matters most is that his name be exonerated from the indisputably atrocious economic record that has developed as a result of his failed policies. To the President, what matters most is that the Congressional Republicans, one of the few governmental entities bent on ensuring the health of our fiscal state, receive the blame for his own failure to produce change in Washington, the ballooning of our national debt, and his fundamental inability to lead.

In tandem with his capacity to offer fiscally sane solutions to the problems addressed in the four questions above, Governor Romney has proven his success in the one area in which our White House requires most: leadership. Beyond his experiences in the private sector and with the 2002 Winter Olympics, Governor Romney has most importantly proven his success in leadership with the opposition, as his tenure in Boston necessitated working with a legislature comprised of 83% Democrats. In addition to the economic failures that have taken place since 2009, I believe that Governor Romney’s achievements both as a leader and with other ideologically diverse leaders explain Obama campaign’s dependence on its divisive rhetoric.

Question Five: When you accepted your party’s nomination in 2008, you strongly denounced the type of politics that advocates, “If you don’t have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from.” Why has your position changed?

Ranging from Stefanie Cutter’s (President Obama’s deputy campaign manager) baseless and hurtful accusation that Mitt Romney is either a “felon or a liar,” the approved Obama for America advertisement portrayal of Romney as a job-killing ‘vampire’, the Obama super PAC’s bizarre insinuation that Romney is responsible for the death of a cancer patient, to the Vice President of the United States of America warning a predominately African American audience in Virginia that “Republicans are gonna put y’all back in chains,” the Obama surrogates have effectively assisted their candidate in the unjust campaign against Governor Romney’s character.

However, the foulest of attacks did not arrive from any of the aforementioned proxies of division and distraction, nor was the attack even launched directly towards Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, or any Republican running for public office. When President Obama’s uttered the words, “If you’ve got a business—you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen,” the greatest attack of this momentous campaign was launched towards hard working Americans – the children of free enterprise. Small business owners witnessed their own President place the asterisk of government alongside their earned accomplishments; while our wildest dreams are never wild enough in America, government, according to the President’s attack, ultimately claims responsibility for the blood, sweat, and tears needed to achieve those dreams. Such a warped perspective is simply unacceptable.

Ultimately, these small business owners must join the Americans who pay their true fair share of income taxes, the Americans who yearn for the opportunity to work so that they can pay income taxes, the Americans who desperately sought real change in 2008, the Americans who want leaders that will act on the idea that $16 trillion in debt is “irresponsible” and “unpatriotic”, the Americans who expect their leaders in Washington to take fewer than 1,253 days to pass a budget, and the Americans who expect leadership from their President in holding Obama accountable for his tendency to paint his opponent as someone people should run from instead of embracing the issues. More importantly, these Americans must understand why our side won’t need to.

Parker Mantell | Indiana University | @ParkerMantell