Dear Mr. President,
Thursday night's "jobs" speech is one of your most important: you must convince anxious and increasingly skeptical Americans that your plan will create employment and stimulate the flatlining economy toward recovery--and away from recession. Failing to do so, combined with a continuing weak economy, could cost you your job.
Although you are speaking before the National Football League's 2011 season kick off between the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints, the pressure and intensity is more akin to the fútbol moment weary fans are only too familiar with: the nail biting end when the hard-fought soccer championship between teams tied in skill and public support hinges on a postgame penalty shoot-out.
You are standing before pessimistic Americans with your post 2008 election advantage squandered because of a series of bad plays:
- Almost three in four surveyed believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, according to the Politico/George Washington University Battleground Poll.
- Only 43% approve of the job you are doing, according to a Gallup survey.
But the score evens out because Americans are disgusted with the Republican party, culminating with this summer's debt ceiling drama:
- Congress' approval plunged to 12% in August from 21% in June.
- Republicans and Democrats are statistically tied--40% to 43% respectively--when those polled were asked which party they trust more to handle the budget deficit, according to recent Associated Press-GfK survey.
The White House released some of your proposals that draw from both sides of the political aisle which I discussed on Univisión's public affairs show Al Punto con Jorge Ramos: Tax relief for companies that create jobs and hire new workers; infrastructure investments--spending on new construction projects to re-build roads, bridges, and schools; help for the "long-term" unemployed in the form of job training, at no cost to companies that participate.
However, no theories, models, research, or smarts matter if you don't convince the American people to root for you with the fervor and devotion of a Barcelona fan.
Here are three plays that will keep you grounded--not eliminated:
1) Tell a story that will evangelize hearts and souls. You are one of the most gifted modern orators. But Americans don't need you to recite a speech chock full of statistics. Every skipped meal, every move back home with relatives, every pair of jeans that fit last year and are floods this Fall are daily reminders of the zero jobs added in August and a national unemployment rate stuck at approximately 9%.
2) Win the heartland which will in turn force consensus-building in Washington. The people will defend your vision in rallies, letters, emails, tweets, phone calls, and town hall meetings with their congressional representatives.
3) Fire your communications team. They have not effectively and clearly messaged your accomplishments such as your stimulus plan being the largest tax cut in U.S. history. They have also bungled your position on immigration reform and enforcement which has opened a breach with Latinos, a once steadfast and loyal Democratic voting block. People will go to battle for you, if they know what and who they're fight for.
On Thursday, score a golazo--a spectacular, winning goal--because the American people need the man they elected, not the President you have become.