Last Thursday's Wall Street Journal editorial "Why Not Paul Ryan?" made the case for his selection as the Republican vice-presidential nominee in this statement: "Romney can win a big election over big issues. He'll lose a small one."
After Ryan's serious proposal to restructure Medicare -- which virtually everyone knows must be reformed -- the response from Democrats was an unserious TV ad, which showed a Ryan look-alike pushing an old woman in a wheelchair over a cliff.
If Ryan and Romney can effectively respond to such silliness, they will not only win the election; they will actually accomplish something that will benefit all Americans.
Is America ready for a serious discussion of issues, rather than the superficial approach that has defined so much of modern politics? We're about to find out. There may be a remnant, a Puritan ethic, still living within our collective DNA that can remind us about the evil of debt, living within one's means and taking care of yourself first, rather than relying on inefficient and overreaching government.
The Obama administration has done nothing to warrant a second term. If Ryan and Romney can force Americans to pay attention to the need for real change, instead of the unaffordable snake oil President Barack Obama has been selling, they will win handily and take back the Senate for Republicans. Anyone needing to be reminded of Ryan's debating skills should re-visit his criticism of the president's health-care measure before it passed with most of Congress not knowing what was in it. It's worth your time to watch this video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPxMZ1WdINs.
Ryan will wipe the floor with Vice President Joe Biden in their one debate in October, but on the campaign trail he will remind Americans that this election is important. It's not about race, class, or envy of Romney's wealth. It is about America's immediate and long-term future. Surgery is painful, but an ailing nation must have it or we will die financially and culturally. It's as simple as that.
It is a truism that a nominee's pick of a running mate is his first big decision and reflects on what his approach to the presidency will be. Some other Republican nominees have chosen running mates for reasons other than their intellectual heft. Romney's pick of Ryan shows he means business.
The Obama smear machine will attack Ryan in every conceivable way, but if Ryan does not allow himself to be distracted and frames the issues in the proper way ("under Obama why would you think you would be better off in four years when you're worse off today than you were four years ago?") he might force many Americans to stop being distracted by irrelevancies and start focusing on what matters most.
Romney-Ryan must also re-tell America's story. They should feature at every campaign stop someone who has succeeded without help from the federal government, including small business owners who did, in fact, build their businesses. Let's see some Americans who overcame difficult circumstances by making right decisions. Inspiration and perspiration -- not taxing and spending -- built America and can rebuild it.
This election isn't about politicians; it's about us. Clearing the debris caused by broken and dysfunctional government, while maintaining a safety net for the genuinely needy, will not only restore the economy, it will restore optimism.
Ronald Reagan (Romney-Ryan is another "RR") ran for re-election in 1984 and inspired people to believe in themselves, not government. Obama appears to want the opposite.
Ancient cultures attached a lot of meaning to names. In Gaelic, Ryan means "king." In a country without a monarch, a synonym might very well be "vice president."
Readers may email Tribune Media Services columnist Cal Thomas at email@example.com.