Conservative Leadership Project: A President for Such a Time as This

Barb Wire

Each era brings its own challenges. While conservative principles are rooted in natural law and moral absolutes, the application of those principles must evolve to serve the times in which we live.

The 2016 GOP presidential field is no exception.

First, we must be clear about our non-negotiables: Life should be protected from conception to natural death. Government should be limited to preserve individual freedom. Policies that promote economic growth should be promoted. Just to name a few. Conservatives should anticipate that most of our potential standard bearers will speak to these principles regularly.

Yet that also creates a dilemma. How do we differentiate between the candidates when many of them are going to be saying a lot of the same things?

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Answer: We put forth criteria to address the specific challenges we face, and then apply them to individual candidates to see who’s really prepared to be a president in a time such as this. Being a good president isn’t just about having the right beliefs, but also the proper skill set to effectively act upon them.

The next Republican president must possess the following skills:

1. The ability to command the bully pulpit.

Like most other managerial positions, presidents mainly have to deal with circumstances beyond their control. Even if the disasters, tragedies, and crises that occur are not their fault, the American people still expect their presidents to manage the outcome successfully and accept responsibility. The first step to that success is commanding the bully pulpit to communicate effectively, and project the right presence when needed (resolve, empathy, etc.) to set the tone the rest of the way.

2. Quick on his feet.

In today’s saturated media-driven world, you don’t always have time to ponder about what you’re going to say. And when you do start talking, you best make it quick — like in 140 characters or less if possible. Leaders who are not used to operating or communicating in this quick-draw environment can soon find themselves overwhelmed and unable to keep it up. Worse, they can appear out-of-touch or like a man out of time.

3. Must make the ‘main thing’ the main thing.

A truly conservative president is going to face unprecedented trolling and distractions from the other side as well as the media (I apologize for the redundancy). He can’t react to every contrived controversy, but must have the discipline to only acknowledge the real ones and the discernment to know the difference.

4. Has to know his audience.

Most of America isn’t consuming liberal media, and most of those that do would never consider voting for a conservative anyway. Don’t waste time casting pearls unto swine. It’s a pointless exercise if you’re not going to reach your intended audience, and as president you’re put into enough Kobayashi Maru scenarios as it is. There’s no point in adding to the pile yourself.  Know much of the over-the-top criticism you’ll face will be unknown to most of America, unless you use the power of the office to validate it. Worry more about pleasing the American people than the media.

5. Must be willing to do hard things.

The next president must be willing to match Obama’s lawlessness with courage of conviction, for he will be tasked with undoing as much of his predecessor’s Marxist agenda as he possibly can. Complicating things is the inconvenient truth that much of the Republican establishment will oppose anything that risks such confrontation. Therefore, the next president must recognize the real battle isn’t R vs. D, or even Left vs. Right, but D.C. vs. the American people.

6. Personnel is policy.

Look closely at who a candidate surrounds himself with, because from that pool is likely to come several of the key advisers he’ll be listening to in the White House. Is the candidate surrounded by movement conservatives, albeit of various strengths, temperaments, and backgrounds? Is he surrounded by the same incestuous batch of insiders and consultants who constantly counsel our guys to go milquetoast and weak in the knees? Is he surrounded by a motley crew representing disparate ideas and party factions he believes must be appeased? Whom a candidate surrounds himself with and why always tells you how they will govern if elected.

7. Must be persuasive. 

In the last election the American people resoundingly rejected Obamaism, setting up 2016 to be referendum on where to take the country instead. Most Americans are confused about what they believe and why they believe it. They just know that what they’re getting from Washington is wrong. At the same time, we know the Democrats are going to run their typical wedge issue, demagoguery-based campaign. Therefore, our nominee must be ready, willing, and able to use the platform of a national campaign to change hearts and minds. Instead of shifting his principles to suit a cynical and fickle electorate – which never works for Republicans – he must be capable of shifting public opinion to his principles.

8. The eye of the tiger.   

For everything there is a time and a season. There is certainly a time when the country needs a calming influence and a congenial figure. This would not be one of them. Our nation is in existential crisis. Our very way of life is at stake. American Exceptionalism hangs in the balance. The nation needs a champion. Somebody it can trust to ride into battle and do what must be done to vanquish the enemy. If a candidate doesn’t demonstrate that fire in the belly on the campaign trail, they’ll never take it with them to the White House. Peaceful consiglieres or those who simply desire to make sure the trains run on time need not apply. America needs a wartime commander-in-chief.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Steve Deace
Steve Deace is one of the "Heavy Hundred" talk show hosts in America according Talkers Magazine. His influence in the first in the nation Iowa Caucuses has been profiled in much of the national media, and he's also a columnist for The Washington Times. His new book, out now and endorsed by a who's who of conservative leaders, is titled Rules for Patriots: How Conservatives Can Win Again.

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