The other day I was thinking about the Pied Piper. No, really, I was. The backdrop to that was I was thinking about how new musical acts are heralded as the next Musical Messiah, destined to lead us to the Promised Land of Funk…or something. Remember The Knack (“My Sharona“)? I recall when they appeared, someone declared they were the new Beatles. Okay, moving right along.
So, new musicians and groups gain followers who think they are the future of rock and roll, yet it rarely works out that way. Politics is much the same. Like the kids in the Pied Piper story, people willingly follow magnetic and charismatic personalities who tickle their ears with promises and platitudes. Most times, those promises go unfulfilled and the platitudes are packed away to be used again someday. We never seem to learn.
The search is already underway for the next two combatants in the fight for the White House. Who can each side get to attract the most votes and win? Who will be our Pied Piper in 2016? I maintain that the smart, long-term strategy is to ignore the cult of personality and present ideas that will attract the voters. Yes, we need a candidate who is shiny and has all the buzzes and whistles, but it’s time to stop overemphasizing the messenger and start focusing on the message.
Rather than pander to endless demographic fragments within our nation, we need to point to themes that are common to all of us. Fair taxation, reasonable government services, equal application of justice, restrained deployment of our armed forces, secure borders, and honor and dignity displayed by our elected leaders.
Reduce the federal government by abolishing agencies such as the Department of Education. In doing so, point out the fact that by doing so, it elevates the power of people on the local level to determine the direction of their schools, rather than the disasters of top-down, centralized planning. I have never heard one positive comment from educators about the No Child Left Behind nonsense. Get rid of that, and be loud about the fact that we are giving power to the people…where it belongs.
Many historians select James K. Polk as the most successful President. What made him successful? It was simple: he stated four goals he wanted to achieve as President, then he set out to meet all four goals (here‘s a quick refresher, in case you’ve forgotten your 19th century Presidential achievements). Instead of a laundry list two miles long, we need to identify three or four goals and repeat them over and over. Herman Cain was wildly successful for a brief time during this last campaign because he has a simple message that he promoted everywhere he went. We can learn from that.
Focusing on a few themes will present a clear, understandable, and embraceable agenda. Forget trying to figure out the sex, race, and age of the ideal candidate. Figure out the simplest way to present the message of what it is that America needs and who can deliver the goods.