For Republicans, the problem runs deeper than Romney's persona. The GOP's economic message is well past its 1980 expiration date. It is not enough to promote growth in an economy where a personal benefit from overall growth is far from assured. Economic mobility is increasingly connected to education, skills and strong families. The traditional, Republican, pro-business agenda is necessary, but it does not adequately grapple with these human needs — the prerequisites for personal prosperity.
Republicans like to defend economic success. They need to show more creativity in making economic advancement a realistic prospect — by promoting, say, high school and college completion, or increasing the rewards for work, or providing practical help to families with children. Moving forward, the GOP's task is not only to make capitalism more efficient; it is to make capitalism work for everyone.
Michael Gerson's email address is email@example.com.
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