Narrowing the Field

By Craig Andresen on April 19, 2011

To call the race to the republican nomination in 2012 a process would be nothing short of a gross understatement. The road to that destination is long, bumpy, full of twists and turns and full of speed traps.

Warning signs are also a key feature along this road and by all means, those signs should be heeded. The best course of action is…go slow…in order to avoid the hazards.

Right now, there are a multitude of possible republican candidates and not one who has, at this point, declared candidacy. Certainly there are those who have formed exploratory committees which is a good indication that they will, within the next few months, formally declare their candidacy but at this point in time, the field is wide open and one needs look no farther than social media to realize We the People are already staking claim to a diverse list of favorites.

Be very careful.

With today’s 24 hour news cycles combined with social media frenzies, conservatives run a great risk of being swept up in the moment. Those candidate possibilities who have PR people advising them or are willing to make their own noise early, are certain to garner a great deal of instant recognition.

Think of the candidate as the product and social media and the 24 hour news cycles as the commercial. Okay…now…tonight while you’re watching your favorite TV show, pay close attention to the commercials. Most commercials are 30 seconds long. During that 30 seconds count the number of times there is an image edit. Each time the image on your screen changes, including text flashing on and off over an image, count it. Don’t do this just once either…do it for every commercial that comes on during your favorite show and after the show add the edits up and divide by the total number of commercials to get the average number of edits percommercial. You will find that it will probably be between 18 and 22 edits per ad spot.

Here is why this exercise is important. Analysts have determined, over the years, that the average amount of time an ad can hold the attention of viewers without providing something different as stimulus is…1.5 to 1.8 seconds. Watch your average cable newscast and count the number of stories covered in 30 minutes. Back in the day of the 30 minute once nightly newscast, the average was 5 but now, with 24 hour news outlets, that average has, in most cases, tripled at a minimum again because now story seems to hold a viewers attention for more than a minute.

Unfortunately, an enormous percentage of the voting public is making their candidate choices in line with sever attention span disorder. Too many are hearing sound snippets, making an instant appraisal and off they go to the next thing. Too many people have just one or two issues in their focus and if the snippet they hear matches their narrow field of vision, they’re sold…NEXT!! These voters will veer off the road and over the cliff.

What I offer here are guardrails along the road to the nomination.

First, make a list of all possible republican candidates and don’t limit that list to just the ones getting press today for making noise about maybe running. It’s going to be a long list and be sure to leave room to add a name or two later. Be sure, when you draw up your list that you do NOT place YOUR personal favorite at the top as placing your current favorite near the bottom will help broaden your scope of vision. The following is a good start on such a list but feel free to add to it as you wish.

  •  Sarah Palin
  • Mitt Romney
  • Tim Pawlenty
  • Hermann Cain
  • Mike Huckabee
  • Newt Gingrich
  • Allen West
  • Ron Paul
  • Chris Christie
  • Michelle Bachmann
  • Donald Trump
  • Jon Huntsman Jr.

Your next page needs to be a comprehensive list of issues and again, place YOUR individual pet issue(s) at the bottom.

The list of important issues is indeed long and again, feel free to add to the “starter list” below.

  •  Radical Islam
  • International Relations with Allies
  • Energy
  • Gun Control
  • Constitution
  • Social Issues
  • Budget/Debt
  • Leadership
  • Taxes
  • Business/Jobs
  • Foreign Affairs
  • Border Security/Immigration

Here’s where it gets fun and believe me, this is NOT something you can do in an hour. This is going to take weeks…maybe months and it’s going to require dedication. You MUST go one by one through your candidate possibilities list and research, in depth, where they stand on your issues list. This is NOT something you can do by simply recalling those little snippets you have heard over the last month or two. You MUST research where they have stood on these issues, what they have said, how they have reacted to and how they have performed on the issues over the YEARS. Google is your friend.

If they have served in elected office before, their voting record will be a valuable resource but it can’t be your only resource. Newspaper articles, videotaped interviews along with magazine and blog resources must also play a role. If they have never served in elected office…that’s okay…but youmust dig deeper to find their attributes.

If the possible candidate is known for business, look at their success record against their failure record. Do they have a record of success in more than one venture? Has that person exhibited leadership capabilities OUTSIDE the corporate office and if so, where and for how long? Measure their successes against their failures.

As you dig, find quotes and stances on as many issues on your issues list as you possibly can, whether or not that particular issue is highly important to YOU and compare, over the years, their position. Is it consistent, has it wavered or has it jumped from one side of the issue fence to the other?

Where does each individual person stand on international issues? Are they completely clear on who our enemies are? Are they completely clear as to who our friends are? Will they, through their leadership skill set, be capable of dealing with the myriad of complex issues and fragile situations on the world stage to strengthen our standing with existing allies and build stronger relationships with emerging nations while keeping our enemies in their place? A good barometer for this would be whether or not they have ever had dealings in the international community and if they have, what sort of dealings. Have they ever exhibited a sense of diplomacy and if so were they successful? Remember, strength against our enemies and in favor of our allies builds respect from both while appeasement is a clear sign of weakness to either.

Do they have a record of being strong on the constitution? For those previously unelected this will be tough as there likely will not be a long record of their stand but, it IS important. Do NOT just go with a gut feeling here…if you can’t find clear evidence leave that part of their report card blank. Their stand on constitutional issues may well be the most important issue you examine as it is the next president who WILL nominate for appointment key administration officials. You need look no deeper than the current administration to see what happens when those appointees do NOT hold the constitution in the highest regard and…do not forget…the next president WILL BE APPOINTING SUPREME COURT JUSTICES! To get the clearest possible picture of a possible candidate’s constitution stance it may well be necessary to draw conclusions from other issues. Here is a great yard stick…where are they on social issues. Do they stay consistently conservative in their approach to social issues or do they seem more liberal.

When it comes to fiscal issues, how does each one stack up? Again, elected officials will have a voting record but, look at the personal financial responsibility as well. For those elected to an office before, it’s not just about how they voted but…did they ever SPONSOR fiscal legislation? Did their bills get passed? Have they, whether previously elected or not, spoken about their ideas for reducing our national debt and if they have, were their ideas valid, crazy, possible, impossible, parroted from others, original, show a deep level of understanding or politically expedient?

It’s not enough to merely look at whether a candidate id for something or against it. Do they offer a plan? Do they understand the issue? Does the candidate offer workable solutions? Who is the candidate likely to appoint to a cabinet? These are ALL questions that must not only be asked but be researched.

Score each individual possible candidate on each individual issue, 1-10 with 10 being the highest mark. Be fair even with candidates with whom you currently disagree. Use as many possible sources and resources as you possibly can. Base your report card on facts only rather than allowing personal feelings or subjection to enter the frame. Be completely OBJECTIVE.

It should not matter on what end of the republican scale you fall, old guard, Reagan Conservative or Tea Party. If you follow the “rules” your results might surprise you.

If you get this far in your examination, congratulations but you are not done. Now, you need to examine the intangibles for the top3 or 4 scorers on your list. Who is most apt to garner respect from both sides of the aisle, not necessarily bringing them together as one but, garner respect much as Reagan did with Tip O’Neil. Who is most apt to take responsibility rather than pass the buck? Who is most likely to make the hard choices and stick with them? Who is most likely to stay the conservative course? Here, on these issues use your gut but be as objective as possible.

The measure of your objectivity in all of this will be your ability to enter a discussion armed with facts instead of feelings regardless of the results.

Guess what? You’re STILL not finished.

After you have arrived at, let’s say, a top 3 each with a top score of 8-10 overall, look at the rest of the list. Those remaining names are NOT necessarily losers. Look at where they, as individuals, score their highest marks and start thinking of THOSE names as high level cabinet Members. Treasury, Interior, Energy, DOJ, FEMA, Secretary of State etc. The idea here, being to utilize their strongest abilities in key positions where they will be the most productive and the greatest asset to our nation.

Now is the time to begin your research and to start narrowing down what is a very long list of possibilities as we move toward the 2012 elections. This same process can also be used, on a much smaller basis of course, to choose the strongest possible candidates for congress in your area as well as state legislators.

It is no stretch to say the upcoming election is among the most important ever and choosing the right candidate is of the utmost importance. Comparing the many possible candidates through research of their backgrounds, past positions and current positions allows you to objectively contrast them against themselves and the rest of the field.

More possible candidates may emerge and certainly, many will, in the next year, drop out and as such, this process is fluid, time consuming and in the long run, well worth the effort.

Choose wisely as the fate of the republic is in YOUR hands.