Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Consistent, Connected, Competent

The primary fights eating up time and space for Republican candidates have to stop.

Todd Akin did not think through his messaging. He forgot to review and vet his previous voting record. Sharron Angle lost the angle on her ground game. In spite of an excellent debate against Harry Reid, her off-skewed remarks about race and her lack of grassroots connections created problems for her

There must be a better way for conservative primary voters to elect the most electable conservative to higher office.

So far, voters and party leaders, and grass-roots enthusiasts have been focusing on the credentials, the beliefs, the platforms of each candidate.

Such scrutiny creates more divisions upon voting time, and those candidates who fail the primary because they are too conservative or not conservative enough end up turning down the vote.

Instead of focusing strictly on ideology, the so-far preferred method of vetting, Republican party leaders and local activists should focus on three different issues:




Is the candidate consistent? Do they hold views in line (basically) with the party platform? Do they support their like-minded colleagues, even if they disagree on key issues? US Senator Lindsey Graham is inconsistent. He has hammered his Republican colleagues for not going along to get along with the Democratic majority. Liz Cheney is challenging Mike Enzi for being a “go along” conservative, voting to raise the debt ceiling without supporting requisite cuts in spending.

Regarding consistency, primary voters should assess the positions held by the candidate in previous offices. They can look over the candidate’s voting record. If the candidate had a change of heart on an issue, and can explain why without sounding like a hollow opportunist, such candor can create a winning opportunity rather than set up him for a loss.

Is the primary candidate connected? Does the candidate have a working electronic network to reach out to voters? Does the candidate have a website, a campaign headquarters? How well does the candidate know other party leaders? What kinds of endorsements has the candidate received? Are they seeking more? Mitt Romney refused to use technology in the massive manner employed by the Obama campaign network. He refused to vet his image so that he would not come off as some aloof elitist reaching down to the masses. Ronald Reagan connected with everyone, no matter what their background. He affirmed that America’s best days were still ahead, and everyone could have a part.

Is the candidate competent? Can the candidate communicate with voters, with party leaders, with the opposition? Has the candidate articulates their policies and platform without needless mistakes? No "legitimate rape", please. Does the candidate have a sticky voting record which may compromise their stance on issues? Romney had a moderate record on key issues, but he fumbled his explanations, then tacked too far to the right to return to the center and retain the trust of independents or even conservative voters with grave misgivings about the man.

The current Governor of North Carolina, Pat McCrory, had to think through his views for his second run for office in 2012. He resisted hitting heavy on the social issues, and he stayed on message with all North Carolinians: jobs and the economy.

Let's take the perfect example of a candidate who failed these three criteria: 2010 Delaware US Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell.

She was inconsistent. She claimed to be a limited government conservative, yet at the same time she was suing a conservative Delaware think tank of gender discrimination. She was also under investigation for mismanaging campaign funds. Can voters trust a candidate who cannot account for campaign contributions? While claiming to be conservative, she was going out of her way on talk-shows to discourage young people from gratifying themselves. Such moralized interventionism has turned off young voters to the GOP.

O'Donnell was not connected. She did not have the state-wide network and name recognition of at-large House Rep Mike Castle. People knew her as some lady who had run for US Senate twice before, and lost. She had contributed very little to the Delaware community. She had no prior public service experience to ingratiate her to voters, either.

Above all, O'Donnell was not competent. She had made frequent guest appearance on faux-libertarian Bill Maher's political hackfest "Real Time". Her comments were outrageous, uninformed, and just plain embarrassing. She had misrepresented her previous election losses, claiming that she had one two out of three counties in Delaware, even though she had lost every election, nonetheless. She made frequent gaffes during her debates with Democratic candidate Chris Coons. She pretended to be Sarah Palin, then released a commercial in which she affirmed: "I am not a witch."

Worst of all, though, the TEA Party movement discredited its credibility in endorsing O'Donnell since she was an unfit laughing-stock running for a real office.

TEA Party elements, along with social conservatives and Establishment figures, most tailor every primary fight along the lines of the candidates' consistency, connections, and competence. Such parameters will assist party leaders and primary voters to support the conservative who is the most electable.

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