Dorothy Rabinowitz recently wrote a column in the Wall Street Journal, The Republican Who Can Win. I want to bullet-point the suggestions that she makes in this piece, and I also want to expand and elaborate on what these points mean and what they do not mean in my opinion.
- The Republican who wins the presidency will have to have more than a command of the reasons the Obama administration must go. He will have to have a vision of this nation, and its place in the world, that voters recognize, that speaks to a sense of America they can see and take pride in. At Louisiana State University recently, a student who planned to burn an American flag had to be rushed from the campus for his safety, much to his shock. Students by the hundreds had descended on him in rage, waving their own banners and roaring “USA! USA!” at the top of their lungs. It was a shout that spoke for more than they could say.After all the years of instruction, all the textbooks on U.S. rapacity and greed, all the college lectures on the evil and injustice the U.S. had supposedly visited on the world, something inside these young rose up to tell them they were Americans. That something lies in the hearts of Americans across the land and it is those hearts to which the candidate will have to speak.
- The Republican who wins will have to know, and show that he knows, that most Americans aren’t sitting around worried to death about big government. They’re worried about jobs and what they have in savings.
- To win the presidency in 2012, the Republican candidate will require certain strengths. Among them, a credible passion for ideas other than cost-cutting and small government. He or she will have to speak in the voice of Americans who know in their bones the extraordinary character of their democracy, and that voice will have to ring out steadily. That Republican candidate will need, no less, the ability to talk about matters like Medicare and Social Security without terrorizing the electorate.
- The Republican who wants to win would avoid talk of the costs that our spendthrift ways, particularly benefits like Social Security, are supposedly heaping on future generations. He would especially avoid painting images of the pain Americans feel at burdening their children and grandchildren. This high-minded talk, rooted in fantasy, isn’t going to warm the hearts of voters of mature age-and they are legion-who feel no such pain. None. And they don’t like being told that they do, or that they should feel it, or that they’re stealing from the young.
- The candidate would do well to give time and all due detail on the activities of the Justice Department under President Obama, the most ideologically driven one in U.S. history. He would make the connection between the nature of this Justice Department and the president’s view of the American nation. That view was made clear early, in candidate Obama’s repeated reference to that happy time ahead when America would once again be worthy of respect-which we had presumably lost through our immoral policies-and when we would regain the trust of friends and allies around the world.
- The candidate will have to speak clearly on foreign policy – and begin, above all, by showing he actually has one.
On the first point I do not believe that Dorothy is talking only about how a candidate will have to speak to the young college student. Yes, she gives an example from a university, but this attitude of rising up and being against those who would burn the flag or speak disparagingly of the USA as an evil nation can be seen in people of every age and race. The mush being poured into minds on U.S. rapacity, greed, evil, and injustice are not just coming from college professors to their students. The MSM and the entertainment industry pouring the mush into everyone’s brain has not destroyed the spark inside some people who have always been proud of this nation. The Republican who wins will connect with the hearts of people who see an America they have always taken pride in.
On the second and third point I do not believe that Dorothy is talking about how a candidate will have to embrace big government. What she is saying is that most people are concerned with having a job, and not with losing savings that they have managed to accumulate. The candidate who can speak about how wrong it is for the federal government to tell anyone what type of light bulb they must use, or to tell them how wrong it is that federal regulators think that fish and wildlife are more important than jobs for Americans. The message of the problem will be to shrink the government by removing the burdensome regulatory and enforcement actions, but saying only that you are against big government does not resonate. The candidate must explain why they want smaller government and why they want cost-cutting instead of just saying that is what they want.
The fourth point – preaching to seniors how they are supposed to feel guilty about getting their social security/medicare benefits may be quite appealing to very conservative ideologues, but it is not the way for the candidate to win the additional votes he needs to win in a general election. Yes, the senior citizens are indirectly responsible for the government we have due to their choices in past elections, but let’s remember that it is those who are elected who have direct responsibility for the out of control spending. I do not see a political winning strategy in blaming the senior citizen segment of the U.S. population for the debt mess that we find ourselves in.
The fifth point is a corollary to the first point. People do not want a “show trial” for KSM in New York City, and people do not want the men who obtained intelligence which led to finding and bringing Bin Laden to justice – to be prosecuted. This continuing madness by the Justice Department needs to be spoken out against clearly and often.
The final point is self-evident to me. There appears to be some candidates who are trying to run on just the economy alone, but I do not think that this is a winning strategy politically. It is true that once you make a clear foreign policy statement that you will have detractors who disagree with you.Â This is, in my opinion, outweighed by the number of people who respect you for speaking clearly and confidently about foreign policy.Â My best example for this is Ronald Reagan. When he ran for President, he enunciated a clear foreign policy that was at odds with the current Kissinger/Ford/Carter policy of peaceful coexistence and spheres of influence. People who disagreed with Reagan’s foreign policy still cast their vote for him, and later Henry Kissinger admitted he had been wrong.
I want to close by saying that in no way am I making a point that we do not currently have candidates for President who can do what Dorothy Rabinowitz writes about the Republican who can win. We already have candidates who are capable of heeding this advice. Dorothy may be one of those inside the beltway columnists like Krauthammer, but I think she has a point of view worthy of consideration. There have been the established political insiders from the beginning of our nation’s founding, and sometimes they contribute wise advice.