Did anyone watch the debate last night?
I did not. I avoided it like I would the plague. Why? Because I wanted to see what normal "non political- junkie" type people would hear from the press the morning after. I wanted to see what the average Joe would see, and not have that tarnished by my own recollections.
Here's what I know so far:-
1. Huffington Post tells me that the republican candidates have lots of kids, that Ron Paul delivered over 4,000 of them before becoming a politician, and that Romney is definitely a spicy kinda guy.
OK...all good stuff to base an election on!
2. Fox news tells me that Pawlenty failed to deliver a killer blow to Romney when given the opportunity to attack Obamaney care.
3. MSNBC tells me that Cain runs from his black roots and hates Muslims, while Romney clearly won the debate.
What a lot of dribble. The only thing substantial to come out of the reports was that Michelle Bachman appears to have solidified as a serious contender, and should not be underestimated. Several reports covered that angle.
Here is my problem.
The reporting of the debate is nothing but a big yawn to me. The candidates did not create a moment that the press could not ignore. AND I suspect that the debates will have NO influence on the election results.
So I am addressing the rest of this post to the Republican candidates!
You Republican candidates need to understand this. At every opportunity you MUST take a risk and say or do something that the press cannot ignore. Now, you need to take care and not do or say something stupid that will set your campaign back weeks or months a la Newt Gingrich, but you must create a moment. Just one...just one EVERY time you are in a public meeting.
If you want to win the next election here are my thoughts on what you must do:-
1. have a simple plan and slogan that everyone can understand....Obama had his with Hope and Change....your's does not need to mean anything but DOES need to tug at the emotions...
How about something like..."It's time"?? Let the electorate determine for themselves, the individual voter, what exactly it is time for...they could read that as "It's time to stop illegal immigration" or "It's time to lower taxes" or "It's time to cut spending"....whatever THEIR issue is can be wrapped up in those two little words...It's time!
(Makes a great and easy sign to hand out too!)
2. OK...so you have a simple message that means exactly what the voter needs it to mean. What next? You have to deliver on plans that support the notion. You have to have objectives....you have to sell the people the belief that not only is it time...but YOU are the person to make it happen.
To be effective you have to be strong on several simple issues:-
a). be strong on illegal immigration, strong borders, no amnesty, and rapid deportation of existing illegals. Be strong on supporting state rights on illegal immigration. Be strong on borders. Do not budge from your position. When people call you racist (and they will) stand proudly and say you are American. Do not give one inch on your position. Let everyone know exactly where you stand. Do not get caught up in explaining why you are not racist, do not play into their agenda...play ONLY on your own.
b) be strong on small government/ cutting waste/ lower taxes. Do not allow the opposition to smear you with talk of unemployment rates, poor people eating dog food and reduction in handouts. Keep it simple...a possible simple step that EVERYONE will understand is to immediately slice 15% off the spending of every department in government. We all understand that. Do not talk budgets, do not talk about future reductions. Keep it simple. A sharp knife to cut 15% of spending TODAY. If businesses can do it, Government can do it. At the same time, reduce taxes, with a promise to revise the tax system to a fair tax or a flat rate tax in your first term.
c) you will not win without some suitable plan to deal with the likes of Social Security and Medicare, some plan to reduce entitlement spending in the future. This plan will be unpopular but has to be packaged in a way that the loss of entitlements can be seen as a benefit. The easiest way to do this is to tie it in with massive reductions in the nations debt. Every time you speak of changing the entitlements you must relate it to the reduction in debt and the near term future for everybody. Take time to show how it will assist the children and grandchildren by reducing their debt burdens.Talk about the future and it's successes, and how the changes in the entitlements programs will be the direct cause of that NEAR future success.
d) the economy. It will all be about the economy at election time. You MUST have a simple plan to develop the environment where jobs will be created. You MUST not suggest that you will create jobs. You must NOT suggest that the Government will create jobs. You MUST state clearly that the Government will get out of the way and allow free market forces to enable the flow of capital to the most efficient and competitive industries, creating job growth and economic growth. You must state clearly that the Government will NOT be deciding which company's get funds, but the free market will determine that.
e) Finally you must wrap all this up in a platform that makes sense to the non-political person. They must see your sign saying "It's time" and know in their hearts that it is, and that you have the knowledge, skills and strength to make it happen.
Above all, you must be believable. You must be strong and positive. You need to call on their help, to make them feel like they are part of the team that will do it. You need to draw on their emotional attachments while also bringing them into your action plan. They need to know that by voting for you they are also saying that they will get into the trenches WITH you...and be a part of the change that is needed.
Just as Obama did in 2008, you need to empower the voters. You need to infuse them with a sense that they and you create an unbeatable and unstoppable force that can and will achieve all that you promise. You CAN achieve it because your voters are doing it too.
3. You need to ignite the imagination. Obama did that with his hope and change thing. He did that with his clever use of race. He did that with his ability to change "how" he spoke depending on his audience. He became one with the people he wanted to vote for him.
While I think he is a dope, and has really screwed up this country, I cannot refute the fact that he can campaign. He knows his message, his knows his voters. He promises them what they think they want. If you wish to be a truly competitive candidate you have to do this better than he does. You need to be able to change your delivery style while maintaining the strong message. You need to be able to be seen as "at one with the people" even though one day the audience may be scholars and the next day simpler folk. Your words must be changed, your language changed, your appearance changed. Your message NEVER changes. Just your delivery.
You need to become a chameleon...with one message for all people.
And you need to create moments. You need to be real, you need to put people above presentation. You need to speak from the heart, while never deviating from your message.
You need a simple message. If it cannot be stated clearly in 50 words or less, it will be too complex.
Do you want to win the election against Obama? You have just read the secret recipe!
But what do I know? My suggestions are free. I do not have a pedigree of political achievements behind me. I just know what appeals to me, and I suspect many millions of folk in this country who are sick of mealy mouthed politicians who lie at every opportunity and spin every statement. No more.
Someone who stands up and says...this is me, this is who you get and this is what we will do together...will have a huge advantage over the current actors in this Shakesperean tragedy.
By the way...if anybody wants to use that slogan, "It's time"...by all means do. Just make sure that you do everything else right as well!