Mr Editor says: note the name of the author.
Dear GOP Presidential Hopeful,
You are probably wondering why your campaign isn’t turning out as well as you expected. Up to now, you’ve followed the conventional playbook for running for president. You have name recognition. You have a decent enough resume. You are out there on the trail, shaking hands and kissing babies, but your poll numbers can’t get out of the doldrums. What can you do to up your game?
(1) Disavow “politics as usual”. Big campaigns run on big money. And big money means big favors. You’ve courted the moneymen, you’ve done some behind-the-scenes meetings with some corporate types to assess their support. If there hasn’t been any actual quid pro quo, there were probably a couple winks and elbow nudges. The public perceives politics to be a dirty business, and is tired of being on the hook for a bailout here and a bailout there. The reality is that you need outside funding, but you have to work to assure the voters that you are looking after their interests.
(2) Work on messaging. What is your message? What do you want to accomplish as president? Can you state the three or four things that are at the top of your list briefly, without weighing yourself down with caveats and legal exceptions? This is a campaign, and it is perfectly fine to talk in broad strokes. Remember that Obama wanted to “close Guantanamo”? Very clever pitch-pithy, and spoken directly to his base. Has anyone noticed that Guantanamo is still open? Does anyone really care? This is not an endorsement of abandoning one’s campaign promises, but an example of the general rhetoric that a candidate is expected to employ.
If you are stuck for an idea of what you stand for, consider:
(A) Terrorism (yes, you have to say that terrorism is a problem and that you are willing to work to combat it);
(B) Immigration (of course there are potentially wonderful citizens streaming across our borders, but there needs to be some reassurance that the bad guys can be accounted for);
(C) Healthcare (the status quo is going to put most of the country in the poor house keeping up with the premiums, never mind the actual billings for doctor visits);
(D) Energy (the whole “climate change” shenanigans fit here);
(E) Jobs (this also applies to immigration; what kind of work will these newcomers be doing? How can a healthy middle glass be sustained and expanded?);
(F) Education (how can young adults move from education to jobs without incurring five- or six-figure debt? Note: the solution is not “free” college for anyone who asks.)
(3) Manage the media. Journalists are experts in getting candidates to be tongue-tied. They glory in the “gotcha”. Don’t be extemporaneous in your interactions with reporters. Stay on message. As you gain in the polls, you will be mocked. Persevere, and don’t let the media make you walk back or dilute your core message.
(4) Articulate your position on social issues. In the current era, this is a tough one for conservatives, because it the larger culture has galloped on to be more than overwhelmingly favorable to abortion and gay “marriage”, and is heading in the same direction and pace on euthanasia. There is the matter of law, and there is also the matter of your conscience. Your task is to balance both, without seeming to be offensive to anyone. If you can state your beliefs sincerely, and also acknowledge the status of the law, you will able to better navigate these tricky waters.
(5) Cross-over appeal. Mrs. Clinton does not necessarily have a lock on the Democrats. There are many Reagan Democrats and others who have been disaffected and disillusioned by the current president and the direction of the Democrat party. There is a wide swath of Democrats who will gladly put their name on your dance card. You need to reach out to these voters, and show that that you can work together.
(6) Pretend like you’re enjoying this. The public is treated to reel after reel of the GOP candidates looking like they just stepped in a pile of horse manure. Honestly, you don’t look like you are enjoying the campaign. You seem like you can’t take a joke or have a laugh. The general effect you have is that you look like you’ve been sucking on lemons. Would it kill you to crack a smile? If your intimates and family claim that you are warm and friendly person, show it.
The public is looking forward to an energetic, enthused, and reinvigorated campaign. Remember, it’s yours to lose. Sorry, I mean win.