Hope on a Rope

 

Ron-Paul-Donald-TrumpLike many other Republicans in 2012, I chose to ignore Ron Paul and his supporters as just a deluded fringe element inside the party. “Surely, they can’t be serious,” I said. “No real Republican could ever support a buffoon who espoused policies so clearly out of step with the rest of the Republican Party,” I said.

I was wrong. In retrospect, it wasn’t the message that was attracting people to Ron Paul, it was the medium. Ron Paul’s followers believed in their candidate with a fervor that surpassed anyone else in the field that year because he offered them hope. Ron Paul supporters didn’t just have intellectual knowledge of their candidate, they had faith in him, and the Republican Party chose to ignore their passion. They believed that fever would break, and that Ron Paul’s supporters would find a home inside the Republican Party. They were wrong.

Politics is a game of passion, not position papers. Nixon was elected on the hope he would end the war in Vietnam and provide stability to the country in a time of great turmoil. Reagan was elected and re-elected on hope, and George H. W. Bush followed him to the Presidency because we hoped for more of the good times of the Reagan years. George W. Bush was not initially elected on hope, but he was re-elected because he offered a hopeful resolution to the Iraq War. Since then, Republicans have been offering up competent, successful party leaders, but not people who might inspire the belief in others that their lives were going to get better once they were in office.

For years now, the Republican Party has been failing to provide a message of hope that can be easily understood by the people outside of its ranks. I understand how oppressive teachers unions create failing schools, but to people outside of the party, “Republicans want to cut funding for education!” is an easier sell. I understand the connection between lower crime rates and responsible gun ownership, but “Guns kill people!” is an easier sell. I understand that lower taxes for everyone allows people who have capital to use it to my benefit, but “The rich don’t pay their fair share!” is an easier sell. I understand that we’re better off if we fight our wars on foreign soil rather than our own, but “Get out of Iraq!” was an easy sell to supporters of Ron Paul and Barack Obama alike. “Make America Great Again?” That’s an easy sell.

Republicans don’t sell our message. We talk about our message, we present detailed reports on it, we yell our messages to each other on panels on Fox News, we even preach about it at our rallies a la Ted Cruz, but we don’t tell the people who are not Republicans that they will be better off if they chose smaller government and more liberty. We look at the political process as an intellectual or logistical process, Trump looked at it as a sales process, and he won. He offered to “Make America Great Again,” and the people bought it because we want to be great again, or at least hope that we will be great again.

As someone who was born and raised outside of the United States, I have a third-person view of American culture, and it’s pretty clear to me that optimism is the water that Americans swim in. My family didn’t leave our life up in Canada for a life that was going to be worse here in the United States, we left it because we hoped things would be better here. People are not streaming across our southern border because life here is worse, they hope their lives will be better once they get here. Americans are addicted to a better future, and the really great thing about America is that, through hard work and a commitment to freedom, a better future usually arrives at our doorstep.

Trump, like Obama and Clinton before him, sells a vision for the future that doesn’t rely on laying out a proposal for marginal tax rates or a 14-point plan to rearm the military. All Trump needs to do is make people believe their lives will be better off if he wins, and the people who believe in him will make sure he does win.

Demagogic? Probably. Effective? You betcha.

It’s interesting to note that Trump, the master of the arena event, had a message that appealed on a personal level and Cruz, who was far more effective at local retail politics, failed to connect on a one-to-one level with enough voters to succeed. This shouldn’t surprise us: Ronald Reagan wasn’t asking if the United States as a whole was better off in 1976 than it was 1980. Rather, he made it personal, he asked everyone who heard him if they themselves were better off than they were four years ago. We forgot that lesson, and we lost. All politics may indeed be local, and there is nowhere more local than an individual and his or her beliefs. Once we learn how to sell hope, we can start winning again.

There are 29 comments.

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  1. Richard Rummelhart Inactive
    Richard Rummelhart
    @RichardRummelhart

    Good post!  Rush always talked about Symbolism without substance to describe the Democrats.  I agree with you the Republican presidential candidates lately have not been very inspiring.

    • #1
  2. The Cloaked Gaijin Member
    The Cloaked Gaijin
    @TheCloakedGaijin

    I wonder if anyone who supported Ron Paul also supported Donald Trump.  Not a lot of crossover there.

    Nigel Farage

    Alex Jones

    John Derbyshire

    Clint Eastwood, maybe?

    Joe Scarborough who voted for Ron Paul was apparently rather friendly to Trump at times.

    • #2
  3. Mike LaRoche Inactive
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    Recently, was a caller on the Rush Limbaugh show who summarized Trump’s appeal by saying that he probably disagrees with about 80% of what Trump stands for, but was going to vote for Trump because he fights. Rush replied that the Republican establishment has yet to understand that, which is why they are in such a tizzy. Here is the link.

    • #3
  4. Locke On Member
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    The Cloaked Gaijin:I wonder if anyone who supported Ron Paul also supported Donald Trump. Not a lot of crossover there.

    Anecdotally, many of those who caucused for Trump in Nevada this year were doing the same for Paul four years ago.

    A foolish (policy) consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds?

    • #4
  5. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Republicans don’t sell the message you outline because they don’t believe in it.

    You are confusing limited gov’t conservatism with Republicans.

    • #5
  6. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Kevin Creighton: George W. Bush was not initially elected on hope,

    I disagree. We hoped the Clintons would go away.

    • #6
  7. Kevin Creighton Contributor
    Kevin Creighton
    @KevinCreighton

    Casey

    I disagree. We hoped the Clintons would go away.

    Heh™. Very true.

    BrentB67

    You are confusing limited gov’t conservatism with Republicans.

    And that has a lot to do with the mess we’re in now. People are so desperate for a message that they like, they are willing to ignore all manner of small government conservatives to cling to a big-government moderate (at best).

    Regardless of which, I can’t sit this one out. Hillary considers me, as a gun owner and NRA member, to be her personal enemy. Not Al Qaeda, not ISIS, me. I cannot let my enemy take the reins.

    Nor can I let someone with a body count in Benghazi be put in charge of anything more than a prison laundry. She has got to lose. I may not want Trump, but I fear Hillary more.


    p.s. I put an “Airplane!” reference in this first paragraph and no one responds to it? It’s like you’re a different bunch of commenters. Altogether.

    • #7
  8. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Looks like I chose the wrong week to give up Airplane jokes.

    • #8
  9. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Kevin Creighton: Hillary considers me,

    See, Hillary is likely to profess against my beliefs for political points. But Trump is likely to act against my political beliefs for political points.

    Action is far more troubling to me than a loud mouth. Though she probably won’t get my vote either.

    • #9
  10. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz
    @drlorentz

    Kevin Creighton: I put an “Airplane!” reference in this first paragraph and no one responds to it?

    Stop calling me Shirley.

    • #10
  11. Matty Van Inactive
    Matty Van
    @MattyVan

    The series [I understand …. but “….!” is an easier sell.]  is brilliant.

    However, I’d change one of them.

    I understand the Constitution and the Second Amendment are designed to protect America from having large standing armies and fighting offensive wars, but “Fight our wars on foreign soil!” is an easier sell.

    • #11
  12. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Anecdotal and self-selecting but interesting nonetheless, a poll from RonPaul.com (a fan website, not the ex-congressman himself) and taken in mid-February:

    image

    • #12
  13. RyanM Member
    RyanM
    @RyanM

    Mike LaRoche:Recently, was a caller on the Rush Limbaugh show who summarized Trump’s appeal by saying that he probably disagrees with about 80% of what Trump stands for, but was going to vote for Trump because he fights. Rush replied that the Republican establishment has yet to understand that, which is why they are in such a tizzy. Here is the link.

    … Because he fights for those things you don’t agree with.

    Sounds like some poor reasoning.

    • #13
  14. RyanM Member
    RyanM
    @RyanM

    EJHill:Anecdotal and self-selecting but interesting nonetheless, a poll from RonPaul.com (a fan website, not the ex-congressman himself) and taken in mid-February:

    image

    That is not support for his policies. It is support for the destruction of the GOP.

    • #14
  15. Derek Simmons Member
    Derek Simmons
    @

    What does is say about “We the People” if the lies of the Democrat Party are easy to sell, and the truths of conservatives are not merely hard to sell but unsaleable?

    For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

    • #15
  16. Merina Smith Inactive
    Merina Smith
    @MerinaSmith

    Conservatism is always a harder sell. It is sober and judicious.  Done right, it does not make extravagant promises, settling instead for the more modest promises of good government.  Its adherents tend to be sober and judicious people who understand that you do not remake the world overnight, and that the policies the left has foisted upon us through regulation, judges and in a hundred underhanded ways must be undone through constitutional means even if we didn’t get here that way or we will have given away the store.  We tend not to put our faith in  anyone who promises something unrealistic, who is not conservative,  and whose character is questionable.  Until now.

    • #16
  17. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    Kevin might be right in the OP.  Maybe passion is more important than policy.  Maybe the messenger is more important than the message.  Maybe lies that give people “hope” are more important that hard truths that will actually improve our lives.  I have worried that these things might be true for a long time.  Because, as Kevin points out, the lies of the left are an easier sell than anything that our side can say.

    But I hold on to my own hope.  I hope that Kevin is wrong.  Not about everyone, of course.  Certainly there are voters that fall within Kevin’s description.  Voters who think that things don’t get better or worse due to policies that are better or worse, but simply because a demagogue promises to “make America great again,” and America magically becomes great again.  But I hope there are some voters out there who are smarter than that, because when those other people, those “hopeful” people that Kevin describes, when they get control of the country then we wind up living in the United Soviet States of America.

    So Kevin, I fear that you’re right, but I hope that you’re wrong.  As you say, Americans are a hopeful people.

    • #17
  18. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    I don’t think what kevin is saying is negative. I’ve said this many times so forgive me for repeating but a car salesman doesn’t sell you the car by giving you the car data. He sells you the car by making you feel like you already own it.

    He strikes up a conversation and finds out you have 2 children, you like golf, and your wife Hates driving in the snow.

    Then he’ll tell you how your kids will be comfortable on the way to school with all the leg room and their baseball equipment will fit in the trunk without having to remove your golf clubs. And your wife will love the AWD and so on.

    All successful presidential candidates create a clear picture of what your life will be like in his America.

    • #18
  19. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    Casey:I don’t think what kevin is saying is negative. I’ve said this many times so forgive me for repeating but a car salesman doesn’t sell you the car by giving you the car data. He sells you the car by making you feel like you already own it.

    He strikes up a conversation and finds out you have 2 children, you like golf, and your wife Hates driving in the snow.

    Then he’ll tell you how your kids will be comfortable on the way to school with all the leg room and their baseball equipment will fit in the trunk without having to remove your golf clubs. And your wife will love the AWD and so on.

    All successful presidential candidates create a clear picture of what your life will be like in his America.

    Great.  The role model for the leader of the free world is a used car salesman.  Nothing negative about that.

    • #19
  20. Derek Simmons Member
    Derek Simmons
    @

    Larry3435: Great. The role model for the leader of the free world is a used car salesman. Nothing negative about that.

    Americans buy many more used cars each year than new ones. Is that a negative? Do car buyers have more ‘buyers remorse’ than voters have ‘voters remorse’? And in each case, who’s to blame: the seller or the buyer?

    • #20
  21. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    Derek Simmons:

    Larry3435: Great. The role model for the leader of the free world is a used car salesman. Nothing negative about that.

    Americans buy many more used cars each year than new ones. Is that a negative? Do car buyers have more ‘buyers remorse’ than voters have ‘voters remorse’? And in each case, who’s to blame: the seller or the buyer?

    The urban dictionary defines “used car salesman” as:

    One of the shiftiest occupations a someone can take. Car salesman earn commision from whatever they sell and will lure, lie, mislead, con, deceive people into buying a car. This is especially true when it comes to used cars.

    A car salesman ranks 9.5/10 on the shifty scale along with the real estate agents, politicians and professional con men.

    I guess its only 9.5/10 on the shifty scale because to be 10/10 you would have to be a crooked real estate developer.

    • #21
  22. Derek Simmons Member
    Derek Simmons
    @

    Larry3435: The urban dictionary defines “used car salesman”

    Thanks for that. Never before thought to look to The Urban Dictionary as “food for thought” source. Say, what’s TUD say about POTUS on that same ‘shifty scale’ — and why is its acronym missing an “R”?

    • #22
  23. Franco Member
    Franco
    @Franco

    Larry3435:

    Derek Simmons:

    Larry3435: Great. The role model for the leader of the free world is a used car salesman. Nothing negative about that.

    Americans buy many more used cars each year than new ones. Is that a negative? Do car buyers have more ‘buyers remorse’ than voters have ‘voters remorse’? And in each case, who’s to blame: the seller or the buyer?

    The urban dictionary defines “used car salesman” as:

    One of the shiftiest occupations a someone can take. Car salesman earn commision from whatever they sell and will lure, lie, mislead, con, deceive people into buying a car. This is especially true when it comes to used cars.

    A car salesman ranks 9.5/10 on the shifty scale along with the real estate agents, politicians and professional con men.

    I guess its only 9.5/10 on the shifty scale because to be 10/10 you would have to be a crooked real estate developer.

    Or a lawyer.

    • #23
  24. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    RyanM:

    EJHill:Anecdotal and self-selecting but interesting nonetheless, a poll from RonPaul.com (a fan website, not the ex-congressman himself) and taken in mid-February:

    image

    That is not support for his policies. It is support for the destruction of the GOP.

    Agree and something the GOP should probably wake up to, but I am not optimistic.

    • #24
  25. Derek Simmons Member
    Derek Simmons
    @

    Franco: Or a lawyer.

    “Let It Be”

    When I find myself in times of trouble
    Mother Mary comes to me
    Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
    And in my hour of darkness
    She is standing right in front of me
    Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

    Let it be, let it be
    Let it be, let it be
    Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

    This too may be in the Urban Dictionary under “Who ya gonna call?”  Most folks dial their attorney or get one in “times of trouble.”  Hey: I think Hillary’s an attorney…….

    • #25
  26. Merina Smith Inactive
    Merina Smith
    @MerinaSmith

    Derek Simmons:

    Franco: Or a lawyer.

    “Let It Be”

    When I find myself in times of trouble
    Mother Mary comes to me
    Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
    And in my hour of darkness
    She is standing right in front of me
    Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

    Let it be, let it be
    Let it be, let it be
    Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

    This too may be in the Urban Dictionary under “Who ya gonna call?” Most folks dial their attorney or get one in “times of trouble.” Hey: I think Hillary’s an attorney…….

    She is also a time of trouble, but so is Trump.

    • #26
  27. Stoicous Inactive
    Stoicous
    @Stoicous

    A lot of Republicans are just looking for the craziest people in the room to support. They went for Ron Paul in 2012, and now Trump is the craziest so they are going to him.

    I think Ron Paul accidentally picked up these people, and Donald Trump is taking it to another level by purposefully targeting them.

    This explains why half of Ron Paul’s fans (including Ron Paul) think Trump is Hitler; and the other half (Alex Jones) think he’s George Washington.

    • #27
  28. J. D. Fitzpatrick Inactive
    J. D. Fitzpatrick
    @JDFitzpatrick

    Derek Simmons:What does is say about “We the People” if the lies of the Democrat Party are easy to sell, and the truths of conservatives are not merely hard to sell but unsaleable?

    For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

    It says that all you need to know about a republic is presented in the scene of Julius Caesar where Brutus and Mark Antony speak to the crowd.

    • #28
  29. Derek Simmons Member
    Derek Simmons
    @

    J. D. Fitzpatrick: It says that all you need to know about a republic is presented in the scene of Julius Caesar where Brutus and Mark Antony speak to the crowd.

    Maybe. Or it could be that all we need to know about “We the People” is better stated in Randy Barnett’s new book OUR REPUBLICAN CONSTITUTION which exposits how were were founded as a republic and how SCOTUS has redesigned our Founder’s structure into something different; something too recognizable to our pale understanding of our own history; something that would be incomprehensible to The Founders.

    • #29

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