Most people can't follow the nuances of issues like health care, the deficit, what to do about Iran, etc. But they do know that they can trust someone who shares their values and world view.
That's why candidates spend so much time attacking each other rather than the issues of the day.
There are substantive differences in how President Obama and Mitt Romney would govern. But both candidates find it easier to question the other's integrity and patriotism than their policies.
(Of course, it's often hard for even practiced political hands to dope out exactly what those policy differences are on the issues that really matter because neither candidate wants to open himself to criticism by offering many specifics.)
One of Mitt Romney's advisers recently put his candidate's campaign strategy in sharp relief when he told The Telgraph of London that Romney was better placed to understand the depth of ties between the two countries than Obama, whose father was from Africa.
“We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” the adviser said of Romney, adding: “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have.”
Indeed, the Romney camp would like to portray Obama as a left-wing radical who exiled Winston Churchill's bust from the White House as soon as he took office.
Most troubling, it seems to be part of a concerted effort to portray President Obama as Other.