Coming to Grips With Our Choices

April 2, 2012

We have a choice to make – one now, and one in November.  Of the two, the choice in November is far more important.

The question:  Can the America we pledge allegiance to survive four more years of Barack Hussain Obama as our President – and if it can, will we even recognize the country we hand down to our children and grandchildren?

Few conservatives will disagree with the idea that a second Obama term would be at least as disastrous as a second Carter term (or a Gore Presidency on 9/12/2001).  But we have to honestly acknowledge that the candidates we do have are flawed – light years ahead of Obama, to be sure, but still flawed.

Why?  Because the real arbiters of the American Presidency are the non-aligned Independents, men and women who identify with neither party, and who decide who they’ll vote for (and if they’ll even vote) based on the merits of the candidates, of their emotional reactions to those candidates, and especially on how much they can trust the candidates (and their supporters).

If we over-sell our candidates, and lose the trust of the Independents, we will lose our biggest shot at regaining the White House.  As a professional in the field of Public Relations, I am steeped in the art and science of presenting and “selling” ideas, and of persuading targeted individuals of the honesty, accuracy and rectitude of what I tell them.  I’ve learned that a lack of honesty – a lack of objectivity – can be a death sentence for credibility … and without credibility, nobody will listen to what we have to say, or believe what they do hear.

Recently, in an online debate with a fellow Conservative with keen insights and a high degree of personal credibility, she laid the claim that Rick Santorum “… is well- equipped for an executive office b/c he has strong leadership qualities.”  Rick Santorum has many qualities, but executive leadership experience isn’t one of them.  He’s a professional legislative politician.  He knows how to write legislation and get it passed.  Though he lost his last one (see:, he knows how to win elections.  He knows how to raise funds to underwrite an election’s costs. He knows how to hold the party faithful together to win votes in Congress, and he knows how to deal with the other party, both when his party is in the Minority and when it’s in the Majority.

But he doesn’t know how to serve as the top executive of a major organization, and there is no more “major” an organization than the United States government.  We have seen, thanks to our current president, what OTJ training means for the most powerful man on earth.

To the extent that we try to present Santorum – or any of our candidates – as having skills, gifts or expertise that cannot be supported by facts, we run the risk of alienating discerning Independent voters who both know better and will wonder what else we’re saying that isn’t true.

However, this isn’t about Rick Santorum. It’s about all of our current roster of candidates.  Mitt Romney does have executive experience – both private-sector and public-sector, but his governing track record in ultra-liberal Massachusetts – including his successful advocacy of RomneyCare – doesn’t warm the cockles of conservatives’ hearts.  As a communications professional, I believe that Romney has horribly mis-handled his apologetic over RomneyCare – there was a much better way to handle that (though he can’t undo what he’s done).  Romney has other weaknesses – but he has real strengths, and should he win the nomination, we’ll need to emphasize his strengths, just as (if Rick Santorum wins), we’ll need to emphasize his strengths as well.

Let’s not forget Mr. Newt – while none can deny his brilliance, he has real problems with a core Conservative issue – let’s call it “family values.”  Both Romney and Santorum have lived lives of moral rectitude, while Mr. Newt has had three families, and shattered two of them because of infidelity.  I’m not throwing stones – I’ve got a divorce under my belt, and after my late wife died, I remarried, so I’ve got three families, too, but I’m also not running for President, seeking the nomination of a party which cherishes family values.  And certainly, Gingrich’s frequent changes of positions – he’s an idea dynamo, and whenever he has a new one, he embraces (or rejects) new positions – makes Romney look stable and consistent by comparison.

Back to my bottom line.  We damage ourselves when we embrace beliefs about our candidates that are not supported by the facts – we invite Independents to disbelieve and distrust us, and that could cost us the election.  Rather, let’s be honest – first among ourselves, and then with the public – and stress our candidates’ real strengths, without claiming strengths for them that are at odds with the candidate’s reality.

Ned Barnett – Nevada Conservative



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