Our two political parties are operating on different playing fields that are unfairly skewed more in one direction than the other. This lack of balance gives the Democratic Party an unfair advantage over the Republican party. Conservative candidates are held to a different standard. Their perceived faults are meticulously examined commensurate with how compelling a contender they may be. Respectful consideration should be given to both parties and their candidates. Ideally, when criticisms are found, they should be doled out fairly across party lines. These are fair-play suppositions we should be able to assume.
In the real world, politics has never been squeaky clean and unfairness isn’t a new phenomenon. But things feel degraded. Democrats aren’t just trying to win elections by beating the Republicans, they’re trying to destroy them with foul tactics that appall. They’ve morphed into nasty people, at least the ones running this current administration. If a candidate misstates or flubs a line, he’ll be caught, guaranteed. If he mistakenly utters words better off unsaid, it can and will be used against him. It can soil character as we saw when Romney was caught on videotape. Moments captured in 30-second sound bytes will distort facts, and the repetitive replay will damn you. A lie told often enough becomes the truth.
Romney’s character and his success story were brutally maligned. He was depicted as a guy who stole money and gave to the rich. The many strengths he possessed were forgotten amidst the mudslinging media free-for-all. The Democrats attacked his character because they had nothing else to offer and it worked.
Romney should have known better. He never confronted the lies and was out of touch. He also should have known the Obama team had an incredible modern messaging machine that permeated every new information platform. No campaign had ever invested so heavily in technology and analytics, and no campaign had ever had such stated ambitions. Political intelligence firms must be incorporated in any campaign. It isn’t something any presidential candidate overlooks, not anymore.
To their credit, the Democrats innovatively mastered this advantage. Republicans in their last two campaigns did not.
It’s probably safe to say being a Republican is challenging. Acting against the best interests of the Democratic party these days, can put you in jail, engender legal fees or discourage those who dissent from doing it. Most recently we saw the shabby pot shot taken by the New York Times against Marco Rubio that many liberals, to their credit, attacked. It seems in this case, Rubio is rising in the polls. We’ve seen attacks play out against Rick Perry, Senator Menendez who’s a passionate pro-Israel Democratic congressman. Even the Prime Minister of Israel, Netanyahu, no ally of this president who spoke courageously before congress, got manipulated by the punishing outreach machine this administration hands out when you dare to disagree. It’s safe to say, it has become risky for high-profile individuals to state their views if they run counter to the Democratic party.
The Clinton’s, an exhausted his-and-her political brand with scandals galore, met their match when Obama appeared on the scene. It seems Obama was better at that game than the Clinton’s who were unmatched until 2006. Imagine their shock being outsmarted by a smoother talking fella who employed similar tactics and stole their crown. As Obama’s presidency winds down, we’re now witnessing more of what the Clinton’s do, watching Hillary unfold her less than illustrious campaign that includes more lies and obfuscation. For now, they remain standing though they shouldn’t, which brings me to another topic – the media.
When negative values assume prominence over time honored values – honesty, patriotism, family and religion – we lose the strengths that make America great. Good vs bad and truth vs lies, when not differentiated by fact, get blurred. Media reporting no longer informs and educates as it should. It sensationalizes and crafts the news which alters the values and morality of its readers. The erosion of western media, its embrace of deceit and duplicity, has led to this fall from grace.
The politically correct doctrine began in the 80s and is a liberal degrading of the freedom of speech. It quite simply prevents us from stating things as they are. It mandates the expression of acceptable views that won’t offend the majority while forbidding authentic assertions. These humiliating tactics suppress free speech and honest discourse. It is easy to see how beliefs get blunted.
Without media bias fully protecting Obama’s presidency, there would be no discussion here. He is mostly safeguarded and media certified no matter what he does. Republicans don’t have that security and cannot duplicate it. This isn’t new and has even improved for the Republicans with new media channels and more diversity that promote conservatism, but the media still remains solidly pro-Democratic and to the left. When character assassination becomes the accepted norm, bold leaders assume more moderate views for fear of being vilified. Unconstrained denigration of character reduces our crop of outspoken leaders.
At the same time, the real scandals and illegalities have been allowed to fester mostly unexplored by the mainstream media. The conservative media has addressed these scandals while the Democrats have done all in their power to diffuse the issues with media complicity. Are they comparable to Watergate? Probably yes.
These would include the IRS’s secret targeting of conservative nonprofits. Their harassment of conservative groups has turned into a political circus of lost emails and purposeful duplicity.
Benghazi – a story that resulted in the loss of four men including our Ambassador J Christopher Stevens at our Benghazi, Libya consulate. They were taken down by a coordinated armed attack while desperately requesting help which never came. Why it never came remains obscured despite the efforts of some gallant Republicans like Trey Gowdy. More duplicity and deception from this administration with no consequence.
Obamacare, a national health care nightmare imposed on Americans by Democrats with no Republican involvement. It too was predicated on lies – if you like your healthcare you can keep it – and has complicated lives and demeaned the excellent health care system we had before.
The Clinton Foundation, a tax-exempt ‘charity’ funded globally with hundreds of millions that really operates as a vehicle to further the Clinton’s political endeavors, staffed by friends and political operatives. There are serious ethical concerns related to this foundation and no oversight from the IRS.
Bret Stephens characterizes it this way: When the media describe the Clintons as resilient or unsinkable or bulletproof — the ultimate “Comeback Kids”. What they really mean is that they are shameless. Nothing embarrasses them, so nobody stops them.
These violations burden our country and those who understand the ramifications of such unexamined betrayals. Ideally, it obligates the Republican party and all concerned Americans, to expose these scandals and punish the perpetrators. This has not occurred. These scandals are Democratic perversions the media ignores.
Conversely, Republicans know it’ll take one tough GOP candidate to withstand the barrage of denigration and scorn that will surely come their way. Still, the Republican party to their credit has no shortage of candidates willing to take it on, and that’s remarkable given the slim pickings on the other side.
So what can Republicans do given these significant challenges?
- The Republican party must admit they’re ensconced in a media war declared long ago. It’s a war their party has mistakenly chosen not to fight. They must engage. The goal should be to shrewdly use the media attacks against the perpetrators by exposing them as bogus lies.
- Along with that, Republicans need to dramatically confront the bias as it occurs: fighting media bias for a Republican win. Lies unconfronted take on a life of their own. When defused they wither losing their power to sting. The public is hungry for the disadvantaged party to assert itself with defiance that won’t tolerate sleaze for sleaze sake. It’s about truth telling and setting things right that attests to character and personal conviction. These are lessons already learned; they must be incorporated and used.
- Ted Cruz did exactly that in this video clip that shows him deftly flipping a KBMT reporter’s questions back at him during a confrontation in Beaumont, Texas. This example reflects how he handled the issue of gay marriage. Social issues are presumed to be pillars of the Republican party. It turns off many in the electorate, especially women. The party chooses not to dismay their evangelical base who supports issues like right to life, marriage between a man and woman. Candidates can find ways to refocus the questions and not fall hard for traps that news commentators set. This clever approach should be incorporated in the Republican playbook.
- Republicans need to redefine who they are, emphasizing that individuality, hard work and persistence can lead to prosperity and personal wealth. That the American dream is attainable and here are the reasons why. The focus must be solution-driven, on today to improve tomorrow. Americans need inspirational messages that Republicans understand and can implement. The party must propose well conceived fixes for the issues that weigh on many American minds.
- Republicans may want to consider building new media outlets to confront the mainstream media bias. Wealthy conservatives can empower the Republican Party by controlling more media channels that influence party perception and the leaders they produce. The Republican party has compelling candidates with integrity, experience and the knowledge to move this country forward. The party needs a new face – a rebranding to alter the staid image the Democrats have milked that has not been effectively countered by the GOP.
- When a Republican candidate makes thoughtless comments that influence perception and hurts the party, the party must aggressively pursue the offender ensuring their disdain is clear and unassailable. That may include bouncing the offender out or imposing severe censure that ensures sufficient damage control. Doing nothing confers acquiescence, an unacceptable outcome. Immediate action also defuses the media who will predictably pick it up and run with it.
- With the plethora of Republican presidential candidates coming to the fore, we can expect many debates. Candidates should exert control over how they criticize other candidates, especially those with the highest likelihood of going the distance. They can respectfully disagree, but beating up on fellow candidates doesn’t move the party forward.
- The Republican party is compelled to use technology to its advantage. They must tap social media and information platforms with persuasive messaging that leave lasting impressions using the same tech savvy bells & whistles the Democrats have used so successfully. The trio at the top – David Axelrod/Jim Messina/David Phouffe – Obama’s formidable political operatives, ran a highly innovative campaign that brought Obama the presidency. When you consider the challenges at that time, promoting an inexperienced unvetted candidate against Hillary Clinton, their feat along with Obama’s obvious charms was extraordinary.
The crucial role of the campaign managers can make or break an election. The individuals charged with running a presidential campaign must possess cutting edge ideas that are imaginative and can surprise, dazzle, and illuminate their candidate. When less is expected, that party must use the element of surprise to win hearts and minds to craft a win. The GOP finds itself in that position. An appealing candidate can reverse it. One who can deliver powerful narratives while confronting the heat and landing solidly on his feet. With truth on your side and given the mess we’re in, such a well formulated endeavor becomes an imperative.