Free Condoms

In high school, I was the campaign manager for a student council president candidate.

We weren’t all that serious. We made lots of posters with sexual innuendo and at one point promised the electorate that my candidate would look into getting free condom dispensers in the bathrooms, if elected. It was a public high school, after all.

The principal wasn’t thrilled with our behavior. In his office, he told us we ran the most asinine campaign he had seen in his 25 years in education. I was honored. Even then I wasn’t enamored with politics and politicians.

I never would have guessed that one of the campaign promises we joked about would be a serious issue in the campaign for the President of the United States. I wonder what my former principal thinks of that? We were way ahead of our time.

I also learned a good early lesson in politics. While the authority figure wasn’t pleased with our antics, the electorate got a kick out of it. My candidate won. Of course, even then, I was decent at seeing the big picture. My candidate didn’t need my help and I knew it.

A Failure to Communicate?

According to this, President Obama told 60 Minutes’ Steve Kroft that poor communications and bad persuasion is what led to the Republican/tea party election results last Tuesday.

So, we can safely conclude that THE election message was not received.

In case Obama is considering other explanations for the results, John Boehner does an excellent job of summing up the message in this morning’s Wall Street Journal.  Key messages:

They [voters] look at Washington and see an arrogance of power. They see a Congress that doesn’t listen, that is ruled by leaders who seem out of touch and dismissive, even disdainful, of the anger that Americans feel toward their government and the challenges they face in an economy struggling to create jobs.

The political landscape has been permanently reshaped over the past two years. Overreaching by elected officials—in the form of pork-laden “stimulus” spending, permanent bailouts, and policies that force responsible taxpayers to subsidize irresponsible behavior—has awakened something deep in our national character. This has led to a surge of activism by citizens demanding smaller, more accountable government and a repudiation of Washington in Tuesday’s elections.

Tired of politicians who refuse to listen, Americans who previously were not involved or minimally involved in the political process are now helping to drive it. While their backgrounds are as diverse as the country itself, their message to Washington is the same: Government leaders are servants of the people; the people are not servants of their government.

I do agree with Obama in one respect.  Part of the problem is a communication problem.  But, the problem doesn’t appear to be in getting the message out to the people.  The problem appears to be getting the message from the people to the politicians.

Fortunately, elections allow the voters to solve that problem.   Republicans started losing power in the ’06 elections because they were in a very similar place as Democrats were before Tuesday.  And it took two election cycles for the Republicans to understand the message.

Alan Colmes on Election Results

I got a chance to watch some election coverage this morning.  I think Alan Colmes on FoxNews provides a typical example of the message from the left.  Here’s the video if you’d like to watch it.

Here are my observations on this.

First, the left seems to be putting up a feedback blocker to the real message voters sent.  Colmes, like some others, believe the problem that caused Republicans to gain big was a messaging problem from the Democrats.  For example,  “They [Democrats] didn’t tell us they gave us all tax cuts.”

I know it’s early still.  It took Republicans awhile to understand the message voters sent when they lost power in ’06 and ’08.  It took a grass roots effort and some weeding out of establishment politicians to recast the GOP for this election.

Here’s what I believe is the real message that voters sent yesterday:  This crop of Democrats is too far left. For many of us, this wasn’t a surprise.  But, for the moderates who were tired of Bush and Republicans, it was.  I remember my more moderate pals trying to convince me that Obama was a moderate, or would become moderate once elected.  I think moderates came to grips that they were wrong about that.

Second, Colmes provides a good example of a pundit who has an amazing lack of understanding of the opponents’ position.  Colmes said that he “sees no vision on the right.”  He seems to think that the main position of Republicans is just to oppose Democrats no matter what and not compromise just for the sake of opposing Democrats.

The current Republican vision seems clear to me.  Shrink government and reinforce freedom.  The reason Republicans wouldn’t “compromise” on so many things is not to simply oppose Democrats, but to defend what they think is right – limited government and freedom.

It’s like someone offering to buy your house for half what’s it’s worth.  You say, “It’s not for sell and that price is way too low.”   They say, “But, I want your house.  How about 75% of what it’s worth.”  Your response, “No.”

Then they blame you for not being willing to work with them and compromise.  It’s not that you didn’t compromise.  It’s that what they offered was so far away from what you’d be willing to do you didn’t bother.

I’m not sure if Colmes understands the Republican position and chooses not to acknowledge it or if he just simply doesn’t get it.  But, I’d find him much more interesting if he actually addressed the real arguments, rather than the straw men.

If he doesn’t think limited government and freedom are good ideas, tell us why.  He might be right.  But, pretending that those positions don’t exist befuddles me.


I recently saw a Democrat political ad charging the Republican opponent of favoring the Fair tax.

The ad tried to give the impression that the Republican candidate was for increasing taxes by presenting this as a new sales tax of 23%.

The producers of the ad could claim that it’s technically correct. The Fair tax would be a new tax.

But, I wonder how they would explain why they didn’t mention that it would eliminate and replace the current income tax system.

I imagine the real answer is:  The ad targeted the moderate voter who is generally for lower taxes and doesn’t follow politics much.  It’s designed to give the impression that the candidate they may be thinking about voting for supports higher taxes, which is blatantly false.   It may also be designed to give the impression that Democrat candidate supports lower taxes, which is also blatantly false.

Look,  I know election ads are a dirty game and they must work because those moderate voters seem to respond to such nonsense.  But, this one went even further out-of-bounds and further reduced the low credibility the Democrat candidate had.

If you’re willing to cheat so shamefully on TV in front of everyone before you are elected, what are you going to be willing to do once you are elected?  Shameful.