This one is a little more complicated than yesterday, and it consists of four subtle parts. There are things the other side gets right in the world of politicking, and the evidence of that is that we are saddled with a second term of a Barack Obama Presidency. Obviously, the political left campaigns better than they govern, and that is an important distinction to make, as well as an important skill to have. What it boiled down to was this, in a world where the track record of our President’s performance over his four year term in office was perhaps the single worst track record ever earned by any President in our nation’s history, he was able to garner more votes than the man who ran against him for office. He won that election, despite being clearly outmatched intellectually, in terms of life time accomplishment, in terms of vision, in terms of policy direction, and by any measurable metric, except for campaign tactics employed. In fact, Barack Obama won two Presidential elections despite not once putting himself out on a limb by offering any sort of political argument, or even so much as anything that could be even loosely interpreted as an agenda.
We, myself included, laughed at the empty platitudes, slogans, and talking point arguments which substituted themselves for coherent debate during our national discourse. I’m not sure, looking back on it, if that laughter was due to frustration or disbelief with the absurdity of trying to have a debate with a group of people who seemed incapable of any abstract or rational thought. But as we all laughed, something rotten happened. It worked. I am not advocating for the same tactic to be used by our side, but what I am saying is that we can learn from the experience.
The endless repetition and ready made responses to any argument posited from our side, no matter how incredibly wrong, and coincidentally incoherent, made the noise emanating from the political left both easy to remember for election day, and at the same time accepted as gospel. Four years later the, “it was George Bush’s fault,” meme worked, even though the problems with our economy are the exclusive fault of failed big government policies that were inflicted upon us by legislation signed into law with pens held in the hands of James Earl Carter and William Jefferson Clinton. This tactic allowed the economic system that has enabled the American people to create the wealthiest nation the world has ever known over the past 239 years, to suddenly become perceived as the failed policies of the last decade. It doesn’t matter that the entire argument is the farthest an argument can be from being true, it has the perception of truth to half of our population, and the bottom line is that that’s enough from an electoral point of view. That’s the truth that the political left has figured out. That’s the battle we need to win, and we need to win this battle starting today.
The Good News:
We have the benefit of truth on our side, and that counts for something too. If we can marry what made the left successful in their campaign efforts with the truth, it will defeat the endless lying offered up by the left each and every time. The left has won a lot of elections lately, and one thing we have all noticed is that during every one of those elections, they have kept their actual agenda hidden, secret, and indeed even lied to make their agenda appear as the opposite of what they actually intended to do. Remember the Blue Dog Democrats, those guys who got themselves elected to create majorities in both houses of Congress on the basis of being conservative Democrats, fiscal conservatives with socially liberal values, and then consequently governed as the most far left Congress in U.S. history. I was mistaken to believe that we had seen the last of them after the 2010 midterms, but just like a wise man named Bill Whittle once said, “you need to mow the lawn every week, because the grass keeps growing.” Our problem seems to stem from our mowing the lawn once, and then allowing the grass to keep growing unchecked afterwards. So how, you might ask, do we do this?
Step One: Be Ourselves
After graduating from college in 1985, I began working as an Assistant Manager for the F.W. Woolworth Company in one of their 1200 stores in Columbus, Ohio. I was a 22 year old kid without a clue, turned assistant manager in a store with 150 employees. I knew not a gosh darned thing, and the employees treated me that way. After about a week, I discovered that the number two guy in the store had zero trouble getting people to work hard for him. I would ask for some action, and was immediately ridiculed. Jim would come by, say the exact same thing, and people would begin flying. That was when I realized that there was something to be learned about how to manage people, how to cause them to move according to a plan that a boss would present to them. I tried to model my behavior after Jim’s, and as you may have guessed, that ended in miserable failure. As it took me a few years to learn, mostly because I’m thick as a brick, I tried it a few more times over the early part of my career, with a few of the people that I admired. The reason it failed was that no matter how good my impersonations were, they weren’t genuine. They weren’t me, and the only person that I could be, and keep it genuine was myself. So, when our candidates campaign during the primaries and adopt positions that are nuanced so as to make themselves seem like the heir apparent to Ronald Reagan, when they come off as not being themselves, it shows, and it will have an effect come November. I have no problem with moderate Republicans, so long as they are honest about themselves. Mitt Romney would have been a great President, but during the primary debates, he stood on that debate stage along with 7 other candidates and claimed to be to the right of Barry Goldwater, along with everyone else. He was never that guy, and what’s more, he should have never claimed to be that guy. Pretending to be that guy made him have the appearance of being disingenuous when in fact nothing could have been further from the truth. I do not know if Mitt Romney would have won the GOP nomination had he not taken that path, my guess is that his organization would not have been defeated in any case. One thing is true though, the number of questions relating to non issues would have been less. In an election when our top issues were all about the economy and Benghazi, an entire debate moderated by Candy Crowely devoted entirely to Mitt Romney’s stance on abortion and Gay marriage would have been a debate where only about a quarter of the time was spent on those riveting subjects.
Step Two: Don’t Hide From What We Believe
When the subject of Mitt Romney’s wealth came up, I would have given anything to hear Mitt Romney say, “yes I am a wealthy individual. I am wealthy because of a business that I created, and that business did so well, that I was able to keep a small portion of the wealth that I created to live the lifestyle that I choose for myself. I also created wealth for many others, which is something that our wonderful economic system has allowed me to do. Not one penny of my wealth was taken from any person or persons who were coerced in any way to give me their money. Each and every penny that I earned, was paid by a person who paid it voluntarily. In every instance, those people believed that they received in value, something that they would have rather had than the money in their pockets. My wish for America, and for America’s future, is that many more Americans will be able to enjoy the fruits of the free market system that helped me to achieve the success that I have attained. There is no system in the world that has allowed as many, or as great a percentage of the ordinary man to achieve what we take for granted in our great nation today.” Running away from that message, appearing to be ashamed of his success, did not help Mitt Romney win any voters to our cause.
Mitt Romney is a wealthy man, and his success should have been a point in his favor, and not a liability. It was a liability because we, all of us, allowed the meme of a robber baron to be trumpeted from the summer of 2011 until the present day. That’s not the only example. I have heard several dozen iterations of what our immigration policy should be. Not one of those iterations has been based on what is right and what is wrong, but upon the perception of how any policy stance might impact specific demographic constituencies. There is nothing wrong with pointing out that getting immigrants to sign the guest book on the way into the country is not anti immigration. There is not an economist alive who will not tell you or anyone who listens for that matter, that open immigration is actually a very good thing for an economy, so long as they are not part of the entitlement program. That being said, we are a nation of laws, and we have a legal path to citizenship for any person on this planet to take part in, should they desire to become one of us. Allowing any group, be they Hispanic, Arabic, Asian, or from Mars, to circumvent that path and to violate our sovereign laws is a slap in the face to each and every person who legally followed that path. We are one of two nations on the entire planet to not have a single guarded border, Canada being the other. What we do have is an honor system for those gaining entrance into our sovereign territory that our laws will be respected. People who have moved here without signing the guest book on the way in have effectively told us that they have zero respect for our laws, and thereby us, as a people.
Equivocating on these beliefs, because we are afraid that voters will not agree, is tantamount to an admission that we are ashamed of our positions, and does much more harm electorally than actually being wrong.
Step Three: Don’t Change Our Positions In An Attempt To Placate One Specific Group
Flip flops are a part of politics. Holding one position until the pollsters let us know that we are alone in that particular conviction has been happening since the first annoying telephone call asking us if we wouldn’t mind taking a important survey to hear our valuable opinions took place. Telling different things to different groups depending on who we are speaking to at any particular moment in time has been the bread and butter of every politician running for office since that first uber creepy kiss to a baby’s cheek. What would be refreshing, and I believe noticed, would be an honest description of what one of these individuals actually believes. Bonus points will probably be awarded to any candidate with the guts to admit that any particular issue might not be the most pressing in their world of personal issues. For example, how great would it have been to hear Mitt Romney answer Candy Crowley with, “I guess I haven’t really considered Gay Marriage at all lately, what with a $16 Trillion debt, and plans on increasing that amount by over $1 Trillion annually for the foreseeable future. With that, the destruction of our free market system, the implementation of the most aggressively onerous regulatory environment ever conceived of in our two centuries old republic, and the disaster occurring in the Middle East, Gay Marriage ranks somewhere near the bottom of my list of important issues Candy, and my suspicion is that it’s near the bottom of America’s list as well.”
Equivocation is not our friend, it is something that is used as a bludgeon to beat us to death with during the 60 days that are used to sell ourselves to the voting public every four years. It makes us look apologetic for things that should make us proud. It makes us look weak on areas that should be our strengths. It makes us appear to be hiding from solutions that we should be embracing as a means to better the lives of all Americans.
Step Four: Embrace Who We Are And What We Believe
yes the political left has built a culture based on useless slogans and talking points. What they have learned is that regardless of what a candidate says to disparate groups, and no matter how much a Socialist equivocates, those slogans and talking points remain constant. We need to develop our own slogans, and talking points, and deliver them every bit as consistently as the political left. Ours will win, because they will be based on the truth. People have not gravitated to the slogans of the left because they chose that perception of truth over the truth, they have done so because our slogans have not existed.
Also, Conservative Politicians take note. you will be asked about these social issues until you give an answer that can be parsed into a 5 second sound byte that makes you look bad. Each and every iteration needs to be consistent and intelligently thought out. When Abortion comes up, you will be asked and asked over and over again, with hypothetical situations becoming more and more ridiculous until space aliens impregnating toddlers becomes the next reason to allow for Planned Parenthood to continue their all important work of reading the yellow pages to women who need mammograms. Please for the love of God prepare ahead of time for the coming array of gotcha questions. A possible example follows.
While the prospect of Martians raping a five year old child and impregnating her is a terrible thing, that does not change the fact that the resultant life form is innocent. I wish I had a perfect answer to this question, but sometimes there is no way to deal perfectly with a situation in which all possible outcomes are terrible in nature. My personal belief is that all innocent life is precious, and therefore should be preserved to the extent that we would be able to preserve it. If it were possible for me to have prevented that hypothetical five year old to have become hypothetically pregnant, I would have hypothetically done so. As it is, you have contrived your asinine question so that I would have to deal with outcomes that would all be terrible outcomes, so my belief is that the preservation of life would be more important than anything else in an otherwise no win scenario.