One cannot turn on the television or radio without some talking head or so-called political analyst pontificating about how Newt Gingrich is grandiose, how Mitt Romney isn’t really a Conservative – and how they both have flipped on several issues – or how Ron Paul’s foreign policy is isolationist. Glenn Beck, to many people’s extreme disappointment, even went so far as to call Speaker Gingrich a Progressive (I guess ratings are down as GBTV). It makes for good news show content, to be sure. In certain respects there is truth to the critiques. But this hyper-critiquing and self-immolation also does two things that Conservatives and Republicans fall prey to each and every time the General Election cycle comes calling: It deflects from addressing the differences between the GOP field and the opposition; and it provides the opposition with talking points, opponent research and the luxury of hiatus.
Make no mistake, the primaries are where each party – when not in incumbency – needs to critique and evaluate their prospective candidates. A hard-fought primary, when devoid of “it’s my turn” establishment national party politics, usually results in the fielding of the best candidate, and a candidate who is sufficiently prepped to engage in the “main event.” But there is a difference between an intellectual meeting of the minds, where policy differences and a juxtaposition of experiences are proposed, examined and debated, and the childish, nonsensical “braggateering” (to coin a word); of trading insignificant insults; of executing a campaign of personality-based mudslinging.
As we approach the actual start of the primary cycle – yes, we haven’t begun the cycle just yet – this act of political stupidity is coming into play, yet again, among the front runners for the 2012 Republican Presidential Nomination.
During the most recent GOP primary debates, each and every candidate has engaged in non-policy related attacks against their Conservative and Republican on-stage brethren. Perry has attacked Romney. Romney has attacked Gingrich. Bachmann has attacked “Newt Romney”…everyone has attacked everyone. Even Mr. Gingrich, who began his rise to the top of the GOP polls refusing to attack anyone but Barack Obama, has devolved into a tit-for-tatting, sound bite tosser. In reality, all this does is prove that even intelligent, thoughtful people, when goaded by the shallowness of the mainstream, feeding frenzy media, are encumbered by the societal penchant for acquiescing to the lowest common denominator.
Meanwhile, the opposition – in this case President Obama, his re-election team and his legions of Progressive political operatives – is getting a breather from the critical glare of the campaign spotlights. While the media’s undivided attention focuses on the GOP candidates’ talk of who is a flip-flopper, who performed poorly in the private sector, who performed better in the private sector and who is more Conservative than whom, Mr. Obama’s non-record is being given a pass, just as it was before the 2008 General Election.
Think back to the 2008 General Election. All the talk was about Sarah Palin. The media obsessed with Palin. The Obama Campaign obsessed with Palin. Even the rank-and-file Republicans and Conservatives obsessed with Palin. Meanwhile, no one but a precious few (Sean Hannity, Laurie Roth, Erik Rush and myself included) was focusing on the fact that Mr. Obama had no political bona fides, that his political ideology was to the Left of Mao’s and that he routinely gravitated toward the most anti-Capitalist, anti-American radicals the counter-culture of the 1960s and 1970s had to offer.
Are we on the right – are the candidates vying for the 2012 GOP Presidential Nomination – so stupid, so ignorant to this perennially redundant Progressive tactic of deflection, that we, and they, would fall for this yet again? Are we? Are they?
This election – the 2012 General Election – is arguably the most important election of our generation; of our lifetimes. The quintessential questions being decided are these:
â–ª Do we want a leader who will affect limited government, or a nanny state?
â–ª Do we want a fiscally responsible leader and a federal government that budgets successfully, or a spendthrift federal government, enabled by a partisan politician, that refuses to craft and pass budgets annually – even if mandated by law, while bleeding the productivity of our nation?
â–ª Do we want a leader that oversees a federal government that protects equal opportunity for each and every American citizen, or a political operative and federal oligarchy that embraces crony Capitalism and special interest groups?
â–ª Do we want to a leader, an administration and a federal government that is dedicated to preserving, protecting and defending our Republic and our Charters of Freedom, or a political ideologue who, with his crony activists, successfully completes the transformation of the United States from that of sovereign Republic to a kow-towing Socialist Democracy?
“The personal attacks against me during the primary finally became so heavy that the state Republican chairman, Gaylord Parkinson, postulated what he called the Eleventh Commandment: ‘Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.’ It’s a rule I followed during that campaign and have ever since.”
The point of the “11th Commandment” was to prevent a repeat – in any election cycle – of what happened to Barry Goldwater in 1964. Liberal and Progressive Republicans assaulted Goldwater with personal and non-policy related attacks, attacks that maligned Goldwater as “an extremist” for his Conservative positions, attacks that contributed to Goldwater’s defeat.
I am at a loss for why, today, Republicans and Conservatives find it acceptable to break the “11th Commandment”; to move away from a strategy that would allow for the spotlighting of Barack Obama’s radical political agenda and so-called “accomplishments,” “accomplishments” that have moved us toward becoming a nanny state Socialist Democracy.
We, as Conservatives; as people who are trying to advance solutions to the myriad dangers facing our country, should expect our candidates to dedicate themselves to a set of guidelines that literally forces them to focus on policy and opponent, instead of political gamesmanship and personal attacks. Moving away from the strategy of presenting solutions and identifying the opposition’s goals as antithetical to a prosperous America is exactly what the American people don’t want. It is precisely what we are tired of.
That understood, the opposition, sirs and madam, is Barack Obama. Now, knock it off with attacking each other and put your country ahead of your egos. For if we are stupid enough, if we are short-sighted enough, to lose sight of who the real opposition is, you lose, the country loses and the world loses.
Frank Salvato is the Executive Director for BasicsProject.org a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) research and education initiative focusing on Constitutional Literacy and the threats of Islamic jihadism and Progressive neo-Marxism. His writing has been recognized by the US House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict Prevention. His organization, BasicsProject.org, partnered in producing the original national symposium series addressing the root causes of radical Islamist terrorism. He is a member of the International Analyst Network and has been a featured guest on al Jazeera’s Listening Post and on Russia Today. He also serves as the managing editor for The New Media Journal. Mr. Salvato has appeared on The O’Reilly Factor on FOX News Channel, and was featured in the documentary, “Ezekiel and the MidEast ‘Piece’ Process: Israel’s Neighbor States.” He is a regular guest on talk radio including on The Captain’s America Radio Show, nationally syndicated by the Genesis and Phoenix Broadcasting Networks, catering to the US Armed Forces around the world. Mr. Salvato is also heard weekly on The Roth Show with Dr. Laurie Roth syndicated nationally on the IRN-USA Radio Network. His opinion-editorials have been published by The American Enterprise Institute, The Washington Times, Accuracy in Media, Human Events, and are syndicated nationally. He is a featured political writer for EducationNews.org, BigGovernment.com and Examiner.com and is occasionally quoted in The Federalist. Mr. Salvato is available for public speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected].