In an era of staying on message, high stakes talking points, and fleeting counter-attack strategies tailored for Twitter or Facebook, it caught many by surprise to see a debate about the gold standard finding its way onto the Republican platform.
And yet, financial policy analyst Ed Mills of FBR Capital says it's a perfect topic for conservatives to discuss.
"It's far easier to talk about the return to the gold standard than it is to talk about why they don't like quantitative easing," Mills says in the attached video. "It's something that is never going to happen, but it allows the Republicans to talk about key areas without losing people over wonky conversations."
Among the benefits Mills sees in putting precious metals on the docket is its appeal to "the Paulites," or Ron Paul supporters, many of whom have been slow to migrate to Mitt Romney as their alternative candidate.
By raising the specter of tying the dollar to something real and valuable again (instead of our current trust in paper), Mills says it will allow Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and the Republicans to talk about the run-up in the federal debt, as well as provide a back-door entry to discuss fiscal discipline, central bank oversight, and the professional future of Fed chairman Ben Bernanke — who Romney has already said won't be invited back for a third term in 2014.
"Talking about the gold standard is a great appeal to average Republican voters about fiscal discipline," he says, "to make sure we don't have runaway government spending, runaway monetary policy, and don't have inflation like we've seen in the past."
Officially, it was August 1971 when President Nixon ended the gold standard and turned the dollar into a floating rate currency. Since then, gold advocates have resisted the change and (incorrectly) predicted its implosion. But their calls of doom have never been louder, fueled by unprecedented intervention by the Federal Reserve brought on by the financial crisis.
Along that front, Mitt Romney's stance that he would not re-appoint Bernanke to a third term has brought out cheers and jeers, but if nothing else, has allowed for another debate topic that is high on public interest but low on intellectual gravitas.
As Mills puts it, "Republicans generally view QE as an act of economic war," adding that his ''mother is not going to want to have a conversation about quantitative easing, but she might want to have a conversation about the gold standard."
After all, aren't the conventions all about talking points and staying on message?
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