Mitt Romney's victory speech tonight after his wins in Washington, DC, Maryland, and Wisconsin hits upon a major theme that may be helpful in the general election: the economic stagnation under Obama may be the biggest ally that big government has. It is this poor economy that drives our current deficits (certain federal entitlements may contribute, but the real "entitlements crisis" has not quite hit yet). Under the booming economy of the 1990s, government spending shrank as a percentage of GDP and the deficit shrank as well. That economic growth helped set the political stage for various conservative-minded reforms. (Though economic growth does not always lead to small-government thinking...)
President Obama seems to have decided to make the 2012 election about distributing the pain of the poor economy. There's some merit to having this discussion, but there's also another very important discussion: how to minimize economic pain by restoring the economy. Though this hasn't happened for much of the past decade, it is possible to improve everybody's lot by expanding the economy as a whole. The diminished expectations of the past few years do not have to be the future of America.
If Republicans can make the general election not about sharing the pain but about establishing a brighter future and restoring America's traditional economic strength, they may be able to deflect some of Obama's demagoguery over the rich (after all, the president's own administration has no small number of Wall Street insiders). More importantly, they may be able to turn the nation's eyes to an important notion: moving past recrimination to a sober-minded hope. Tossing about blame will not cure the nation of what ails it; searching for solutions may.