Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Hard Sell

Is it the message, the messenger, the audience, or a combination of all three that determines how an idea is received?  I believe it is all three, and unfortunately the Obama campaign seems to hold an advantage in each category.  This is not intended as a compliment of the president; it is a criticism of the American people.  

“Democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom, socialism restricts it.  Democracy attaches all possible value to each man; socialism makes each man a mere agent, a mere number.  Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality.  But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.” – Alexis de Tocqueville

The choice before us is between two parties, two candidates, and two very different national visions.  An apathetic and dependent population with a massive government complex as the great provider is the desired end state of our current administration.  Of course it is not portrayed in this manner as honesty, especially in this case, is not a winning political strategy.  Give versus earn, owed versus produced, fair share versus fruits of labor, and envy versus personal responsibility.  It is no surprise that the Republican Party is having a tough time selling their conservative viewpoint when compared with the coddling beliefs espoused by the increasingly progressive Democratic Party.  The Obama message is tailored to a growing segment of the American population that feels government exists to be their caretaker.  Couple this with low expectations and a group encompassing Republicans, Wall Street, and the rich they serve up as the cause of our country’s general malaise, and you have a very inviting message on the surface.  It is always easier to hear you are the victim versus the cause of your disappointment or failure.   Their message is one of absolution of personal responsibility.  A testament to a belief that government’s place is to provide and ensure a certain lifestyle to the masses at the expense of those that have selfishly succeed and in doing so now somehow deny others that same opportunity.  Unfortunately, what we do not understand is that the basis of this president’s message is that he thinks very little of us.  He is able to make baseless claims, perpetually lie, dismiss the Constitution and ask for more time after a train wreck of a first term because he knows we are not paying attention, we are not interested.  He arrogantly believes his vision for our country is better than the one put forth by the brilliant group of men that founded our nation.  Somehow this current administration and those that have begun to flock to their crusade of fundamental change have more faith in a socialistic system of government that has failed miserably everywhere it has been implemented, than in our own unique democratic republic and free market capitalism that has made us the envy of the world for 236 years.  Cleverly, many have been convinced to support failure over prosperity and governmental intrusion over self-determination.  The message of a parental government with some measure of assured menial subsistence has proven to be too tempting for many even though the steep price is the forfeiture of the possibility and freedom of achieving personal greatness.

"Every step we take towards making the State our Caretaker of our lives, by that much we move toward making the State our Master." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

A historic president is a hard thing to overcome, especially when that historic president is the benefactor of a myth of limitless potential and anointed our nation’s great savior without the burden of proof.  With such lofty expectations thrust upon him, it seems inconceivable that in four short years he is confronting the label of failure as a one term president.  What does it say about us if we are not willing to give him more time to fulfill his self-proclaimed destiny?  What does it say about us if we lose faith after just four short years?  Half of us are not willing to honestly answer these questions, and Obama is trying to shame as many of the other half as possible into ignoring what they know the answers to be.  He is a brilliant visionary far beyond our comprehension that will lift us up and carry us to the land of milk and honey, or so the Democratic Party’s propaganda machine would have us believe.  His campaign has done a masterful job of convincing many that he is the defender of the common people, never mind his political ideology supports their suppression.  He is a man with a past shrouded in self-imposed and media supported mystery, the little we do know is a mix of hatred and fringe politics, and yet many identify with Obama more than with Romney for reasons even they cannot identify.  He understands us more than the out of touch super wealthy successful business man Mitt Romney.  This makes sense as the type of success achieved by Mr. Romney is not ordinary; it is the type that easily evokes strong feelings of envy, a point the Democrats have railed on ad nauseam.  Though Romney’s professional experience and impressive record of accomplishments is one that would normally inspire confidence that he is well positioned to fulfill the duties of the presidency, it boggles the mind how President Obama has been allowed to turn this into a political negative.  And while Obama has had almost four years in the Oval Office and has proven not to be the answer, large numbers still prefer him to the Republican challenger.  He is the Pied Piper, we are seemingly unable to resist, even as he leads us over the cliff to irrelevance.  He has convinced nearly half the voting population to dismiss his dismal performance over the last four years, and that despite our nation’s seemingly stationary “recovery,” he is still the best option.  It does not appear that the hope a majority of American voters naively placed in Obama in 2008 is something the much more deserving Romney will be privy to in 2012.

“As the cool and deliberate sense of the community ought in all governments, and actually will in all free governments ultimately prevail over the views of its rulers; so there are particular moments in public affairs, when the people stimulated by some irregular passion, or some illicit advantage, or misled by the artful misrepresentations of interested men, may call for measures which they themselves will afterwards be the most ready to lament and condemn. In these critical moments, how salutary will be the interference of some temperate and respectable body of citizens, in order to check the misguided career, and to suspend the blow mediated by the people against themselves, until reason, justice and truth, can regain their authority over the public mind?” – James Madison (Federalist No. 63)

Of the three parts, the one with the most power in the equation of how an idea or message is received is the audience.  We control the conversation; we decide what we will listen to and what we will accept.  The message and messenger must receive our seal of approval and craft their argument to our liking or it is all for naught.  Unfortunately, we are not the nation we once were.  America was rugged individualism personified.  Our ancestors did not come here to be taken care of or recreate what they left behind in their homelands.  This was going to be a new and different nation.  Here you were not promised prosperity, but here you had a chance at it.  The work required was expected, as they knew greatness is never achieved without it.  They cherished their newfound freedoms and liberties and would ardently defend them against any foreign enemy or domestic government that attempted to infringe upon them.  We have now been blessed for so long that we take it for granted that it will always be this way regardless of how irresponsible we are with our rights, liberties, finances, and votes.  As I have said before, President Obama is not the cause of our national decline; he is a result of it.  We listen to absurd speeches vilifying success, capitalism, American exceptionalism, self-reliance, and personal responsibility.  We foolishly elected a man our national leader that beyond a speech given at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, we knew nothing about and who conspicuously lacked any examples of leadership in his artfully veiled past.  We justified supporting an ideology that has failed everywhere it has been instituted, one that is in direct opposition to our nation’s founding values all in an effort to lay blame for our financial imprudence at the feet of the Republican Party.  We have foolishly forsaken our cornerstones of ambition, fortitude, and accountability in hopes that an easier life of entitlement is the result, even though these core beliefs are what enabled our ascendency to the pinnacle of human civilization. How inconvenient for the current administration’s strategy.  If only we were paying attention.

“The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind.” – Thomas Paine (Common Sense)

President Obama is a very arrogant and pretentious man that has nothing but disdain for the American people, and yet we are on the verge of reelecting him.  How can this be?  He seems like such a nice guy.  The answer is simple, he understands two things: American society has converted to the religion of government dependency while at the same time abandoning its civic duties of being aware and educated citizens in order to restrain and hold government accountable.  We are asleep at the wheel; distracted by claims we are victims being deprived of success, opportunity, and entitlements we are owed.  We are more concerned about updating our Facebook pages than we are about questioning the motives and qualifications of our elected leaders.  In a self-consumed society, lies and political spin are just as good as the truth, if no one is paying attention then there is no difference between fact and propaganda as they are both blindly accepted on face value.  Truth is always subject to the burden of proof, unless no one demands it.  We like not having to accept responsibility for our nation’s current mess and the disappointments in our lives; it relieves us of having to cope with the fact that we are the problem.  Our vanity is being cleverly taken advantage of by a president hell-bent on fundamentally changing America from a nation based on the principles of individual determination to one ruled by government decree.

“Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.” – Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Reelection Through Failure

As I have watched this campaign thus far I have tried to figure out how a president that has been effective at nothing, save showing how ineffective he is at leading our country, is still so close in this race.  I understand that Mitt Romney is not overly charismatic or intrinsically inspiring, but when you compare these two men in the areas of organizational leadership, positive results and earned achievement, the winner is so blatantly obvious that only a member of the Obama campaign could deny it.  So this begs the question, why during a time when our nation is in such vital need of a results oriented and proven leader would the electorate not gravitate in droves toward the only one running meeting this description?  Both sides have their faithful that would vote for whatever candidate their party nominated even if it happened to be ineptitude incarnate, but I would still like to think that while common sense is not so common anymore that it hasn’t yet vanished from our society’s lexicon.  So with the acknowledgement that one contributing factor is that Mitt Romney is not a particularly dynamic candidate, the question is what else can be causing some to continue to consider reelecting a proven failure in the position as a plausible option?

In 2008, the majority of voting Americans decided to place their faith in a man who was all fluff and no substance, in a desperate attempt to find something new and different -hope and change.  As the last four years have proven, hope alone is no way to run a country and soaring rhetoric is no substitute for effective leadership.  These lessons are quite obvious to those not blinded by unwavering party loyal or a naive belief that the only thing President Obama needs is more time.  In the end though the reason for the continuing support for this failed president doesn’t really matter, but the fact that our nation has lost its ability to recognize leadership and demand it of those running for and elected to office is truly frightening.

The expectations raised by the Obama campaign in 2008 were quite ambitious, even by political standards.  Campaign promises are an institution of our electoral system, while unfulfilled campaign promises are an institution of reality.  We expect our candidates to make grandiose proclamations, so they do.  The first Obama campaign took this strategy to a new level in that they made the promises and yet had a candidate that lacked not only the experience and abilities to fulfill them, but even effectively handle the much more mundane tasks of the office.  The type of dismal record he has amassed while in office would usually be a devastating blow to a reelection bid, but during this cycle it seems to have served as a possible salvation.  Some voters seem to be wary of giving Romney the same benefit of the doubt they gave Senator Obama; it seems that bridge has been burned or at least heavily damaged.  I believe this to be the second contributing factor, for in modern times never has a president had such lofty expectations thrust upon him and then fallen so very short.  Once bitten, twice shy causing many to feel more comfortable staying with the incompetence they know versus voting for the unknown.  Some simply do not want their hopes for a better future dashed again; the disappointment was rather severe last time around.

As both campaigns have stated over and over again, this is a watershed election.  This election will decide the type of nation we choose to be.  The two major party candidates are stark contrasts, one a self-made man and the other a self-made myth.  One a record of practical experience and tangible achievement, the other a startling lack of a record and accolades bestowed due to a baseless notion of greatness inevitable.  The leap of faith to vote for Mitt Romney in 2012 pales in comparison to the one it took to vote for Barack Obama in 2008.  Though no experience can fully prepare one to be President of the United States, nor guarantee they will be successful in the post, the Republican candidate’s resume is much more encouraging in this aspect than the one sworn in as President on January 20, 2009.  Let us not reward failure because we are too afraid to put the last mistake behind us and forge ahead in a new direction.