Mitt Romney, a man of considerable privilege and class standing, has long struggled to convince grassroots Republicans that he is one of them, and selecting Paul Ryan as his vice presidential nominee might not be enough. Romney should consider the successes of past Conservative Party politicians such as former Prime Minister John Major of the United Kingdom.
According to Tom Doran at the Huffington Post, voters may not care if a candidate is rich, but they expect that candidate to care (or at least appear to care) about the plight of everyday voters. Mitt Romney and the Republicans would ignore this lesson at their own peril:
Lefties, as a rule, tend to claim that the Conservative party is and always has been a party of and for the very rich. "Same old Tories", we snort, sinking into the toff-bashing of old like a warm bath, top hats and monocles optional. In truth, the Cameron-Osborne-Johnson ascendancy represents not a continuation of aristocratic rule, rather a restoration. From Edward Heath through to Michael Howard, a period of over 40 years, the Conservatives were led by tribunes of the aspirational working and middle classes; what they themselves like to call the "strivers".
This gave the party the crucial advantage of seeming to embody what they preached. "I grew up in Brixton and went to a grammar school", Major could claim, "and now I run the country and want to give you a hand up". Speaking as a Labour voter, this was the best face of Conservatism, a creed that spoke to the masses in a way most socialists can only dream of. Cameron and Osborne would, naturally, also claim to be on the side of the strivers. They may even be telling the truth, but these are men who have never faced the threat of financial disaster. Indeed, they have hardly faced any serious adversity as most of us know it. If I'm a small tradesman struggling to see further than the next bill, why should I believe them?
To dismiss Cameron for his social background, I should stress, would be as grossly unfair as if he were a miner's son. His desire to make Britain a better place is patently sincere, as is his concern for the less fortunate (his policies are another matter). This is a problem of perception, but in politics, perception matters. The inimitable Nadine Dorries MP, Tory backbencher and aspirant to the title "Britain's Sarah Palin", has already openly attacked the PM and Chancellor as "arrogant posh boys". Without swift action, the Conservatives may soon find the rest of the country agreeing with her.