COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., March 14 — Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment was “Thou shall not speak ill of a fellow Republican.” So far in this GOP run-up election season, every candidate with the possible exception of Dr. Ben Carson has broken this commandment.
Long before the Democrats can actually get their meathooks into the eventual Republican nominee, their ground-work is already being laid. Miles and miles of B-roll videotape are safely stored in in the attics of PR advance men. Drooling with anticipation, Democrat operatives envision using all of it during their fight to elect Hillary Clinton as the next president of the United States.
As the GOP risks breaking apart for reasons unrelated to these damning sound bites, it would do well to take a page from the Democrats’ playbook. Democrats, for all their faults, circle their wagons well. They protect their own, even when they’re criminally liable. Republicans, on the other hand, having detected malfeasance in one of their own, have one hand on the cell phone. “Call the authorities!”
As political strategies are played out on the national election stage, citizens, too, contribute to the discourse, or lack thereof. Memories of a distant Democrat convention in Chicago long, long ago fire up young demonstrators anew to “make a difference.” But for what are they fighting? An end to the war in Vietnam? Lower college tuition? Wall Street accountability? Or a capitalist flying around in his own plane, professing to lead us?
As media expert Marshall McLuhan said many years ago, “The medium is the message.” Today, the medium is Twitter—super short commentary that requires no back-up information. Facebook, Google mail, computer robo-calls and good old fashioned television fill in any remaining gaps. We also still have radio, a relic of the past that’s hung around to haunt the left as the only place in the nation where conservative commentary dominates. For some reason, leftist theology hasn’t sold in that market.
So, here we sit at our keyboards or in front of our televisions, with CNN blaring news about the latest bombings, candidates accusing each other of all manner of crimes and misdemeanors and an electorate that, left or right, at least recognizes that something in America just ain’t right.
The outsider candidates—Trump, Sanders, Carson, and to some extent, Cruz—are speaking our language, even as together we work to form a more perfect union. Maybe, at the other end of the sausage factory that is the 2016 national election, the old “left” and “right” labels will become less applicable. Perhaps what we are seeing instead is the emergence of the “outsider” and the “insider.”
If the Sanders supporters can move even further left and the Trump supporters can move even further right, perhaps they’ll meet somewhere out back behind the barn. Perhaps the country’s too important to leave to the professionals. Perhaps what’s needed here are lowered voices, careful thought, an eschewing of the traditional translators and gatekeepers and a renewed dependence on our own true selves.
Perhaps there ought to be a 12th Republican Commandment: “Thou shall not speak ill of the outsider, as he is the one who still has perfect vision.”
The outsiders have it figured out: The emperors aren’t really wearing any clothing. Their airbrushed personas are no more real than the model on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine, whose thighs have been rendered more perfect by PhotoShop.
It’s now our job to look past the gloss and the PR spin rooms. Let us take closer looks at those remaining political contenders who are the most like us. And if they already own homes inside the Beltway, dump ‘em!