President Obama's assertion recently that "you can't change Washington from the inside" is an instructive lesson.
Change rarely comes from inside the Washington Beltway. Nor does it come from political systems like the one in Chicago, which mirror the same dysfunctional paralysis seen in the nation's capital year after year. Instead, change most often comes from the outside, and it tends to come from people who have a proven record of accomplishment. Change comes from people who have led things successfully in the past and shown a capacity to get things done -- people like Mitt Romney.
At this point, Mr. Romney's story is well known, but it still bears repeating. At every critical moment in his life, Mr. Romney has stepped up to take on enormous challenges and has succeeded -- at every step -- beyond all expectations.
Maybe you've heard it all before: He became a businessman and pioneered new strategies that helped rescue dozens of companies, turning them around and helping them grow and prosper. Entire companies, such as Staples and Sports Authority, and thousands of jobs are a direct result of his success.
After his career in business, Mr. Romney was called in to save the Salt Lake City Olympic Games, which at the time were mired in debt, scandal and corruption. Before Mr. Romney took the helm, the event was facing a shortfall of $379 million, causing some to propose that the games be scaled back or moved from Salt Lake City altogether. Mr. Romney set about the task of revamping the entire organization, cutting budgets and boosting revenue. He made it a profitable enterprise by the time games were over.
Then he became governor of Massachusetts, where he faced the challenges of a weak economy and a massive budget deficit. He also had to work with a Democrat-dominated legislature. Upon entering office, Mr. Romney was faced with a shortfall of roughly $3 billion, a crisis so grave that the legislature granted him emergency powers to make cuts. The actions he took immediately closed the structural gap and set Massachusetts on a sustainable path forward.
During his term as governor, Mr. Romney got Massachusetts moving again, and he did so while cutting taxes and creating thousands of jobs. By the time he left office, unemployment in the Bay State was at an incredibly low 4.6 percent.
These stories may not be new to many of us, but I believe they are absolutely critical to remember as we head to the polls in November to select our next president. Mr. Romney has a proven record of affecting positive change and creating jobs both inside and outside government.
The challenges America faces today look very much like the challenges Mr. Romney has voluntarily taken on time after time, and succeeded in overcoming. We are facing a sluggish economy, a mountain of debt and an implacable stubbornness throughout Washington that prevents us from getting anything of substance done.
Only a leader with vision, a proven track record of reform and the ability to take on big challenges and succeed by bringing people together can set this country back on a path to prosperity.
I can't help but agree with Mr. Obama about the need for change to come from the outside. Truly revitalizing this country's potential will require vision, leadership and a demonstrated ability to get things done.
Mr. Obama has had his chance, and he hasn't delivered on his promise to revitalize our economy. It is time we turned -- as so many have before -- to Mitt Romney.
Fred Malek is founder and chairman of the American Action Network.