I strongly agree with what Thomas Sowell wrote in his recent column, The Need to Explain:
The most successful Republican presidential candidate of the past half century– Ronald Reagan, who was elected and reelected with landslide victories– bore little resemblance to the moderate candidates that Republican conventional wisdom depicts as the key to victory, even though most of these moderate candidates have in fact gone down to defeat.
One of the biggest differences between Reagan and these latter-day losers was that Reagan paid great attention to explaining his policies and values. He was called “the great communicator,” but much more than a gift for words was involved. The issues that defined Reagan’s vision were things he had thought about, written about and debated for years before he reached the White House.
I think that we’ve been missing a sorting out process to find folks like Reagan.
It took Reagan decades to hone his communication skills, develop an understanding of the material and learn how to communicate it so that it made sense to people.
One example of this is the book, Reagan: In His Own Hand. This is a collection of the scripts that Ronald Reagan wrote himself for 5-minute long weekly radio addresses syndicated in the 1970s. The book shows the edits Reagan made to his text as he deliberately crafted each address to be easily grasped, memorable and meaningful for the folks listening.
I recommend reading the book. Many of the addresses are instructive still today. I learned a great deal about economics, domestic policy and foreign policy from it. As a lad, I trusted the garbage the media fed me about Reagan not being the brightest bulb, however what I read in this book made me realize I was wrong to have trust them.
Reagan’s writings were deeper, yet easier to understand, than anything that I had heard or read from the media. Reagan’s communication skills still remind me of this quote:
I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity. -Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Supreme Court Justice, 1902 – 1932
After reading Reagan’s scripts, I realized that the media — and much of the world — exists in the simplicity on this side of complexity, while Reagan was on the other side. The media simply couldn’t fathom it.
Our political processes do not favor folks like Reagan. They favor folks like Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Sowell continues in his column:
One of the secrets of Barack Obama’s success is his ability to say things that will sound both plausible and inspiring to uninformed people, even when they sound ridiculous to people who know the facts.