Presidential elections are decided in the first-person plural and the second person. Anyone operating in the third person is in trouble.
Mitt Romney's campaign on Wednesday released an ad featuring the candidate speaking straight to the camera, all by himself: It's not the most polished video in the world. But you can see the thinking behind it. The candidate will directly address the voters, making a spare, authentic, heart-to-heart appeal that he cares about how "too many Americans" are suffering.
And then he says it.
"President Obama and I both care about poor and middle-class families. The difference is my policies will make things better for them."
Mitt Romney keeps talking about the people whose votes he needs as "them."
In the 47 percent video, it was "those people."
"I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives," Romney said.
But presidential elections are always about the grand national us. They are about we, the people. And when it come to a candidate, they are about me and you.
As Bill Clinton famously said, "For too long we've been told about 'us' and 'them.' Each and every election we see a new slate of arguments and ads telling us that 'they' are the problem, not 'us.' But there can be no 'them' in America. There's only us."