President Obama's failure to garner greater support among independents and moderate Republicans is in part due to his campaign's reluctance to paint us a picture of a likely future under Romney/Ryan.
What might 2016 look like if Romney/Ryan gets to carry out trickle-down economics, lower tax revenue without offsetting defense cuts, change Medicare, euthanize the Affordable Care Act, make abortion practically inaccessible, and dial up the callous edge of our culture, where it's everyone for themselves, and you eat what you kill, or die trying.
As an executive coach, I often challenge leaders to go beyond the expected vision exercise of communicating the "what" they want to create, and add the "what if" the competitive or alternative outcome should happen. This helps to gain buy in among the skeptics.
Beyond the poll-verified afterglow of the convention, there's significant opportunity for team Obama to do just that. Show us the albeit muddled Romney/Ryan vision at its likeliest outcome -- touch on that dark dream, in moderation, in advertising and stump speeches.
Instead, at the Democratic National Convention the president and his surrogates were mainly criticizing, refuting Romney/Ryan arguments, and describing a kind of compassionate capitalism. They envision a government that provides tools and nets to assist the needy and invest in the promising. It's powerful leadership alchemy that presses endorphin buttons, feeding our primal needs for love, security, and support.
Powerful, yet limited. We understand the notion of a government that "has our back," per Obama, but can we adequately picture the Romney/Ryan government that turns its back? Alas, we need help doing that, and team Obama isn't helping.
Obama's inability to show what a Romney/Ryan 2016 would look like amounts to a missed opportunity to create a stronger tailwind for the president's campaign.
Most are clear by now that this election is about buying hope for a society that can navigate the costs and challenges of supporting a mutual greater good versus the fear that such a society will overdo it, or has already done so, and become the dreaded nanny state.
Fear without foundation has propelled Republicans in the past. Just imagine how compelling Obama's vision of compassionate capitalism could be, if balanced with a glimpse into Romney/Ryan's alternative America in factual, gritty detail.