“Electable” is the ruling class’ favorite word. They never define it, of course, because it really means “only the candidate that will maintain the statist-corporatist status quo should get elected.” Therefore, it has no defined parameters except one—only those who hate the liberty-loving grassroots of the Republican Party get to define it.
This explains why the Republican Party establishment and American Left often agree on which candidates are “electable.” Winning elections isn’t of primary importance to these folks. Maintaining control is.
Sure, they’d each like “their guy” in charge of our crumbling republic to make sure their squeaky wheels get the taxpayers’ grease. Besides, life for Republicrats is easier in the minority. They still gets all the taxpayer graft they want for their cronies, plus it’s easier to fundraise off of “the Democrats are horrible so send money” than “I’m not doing a darn thing about it but pay me anyway.”
This way Republicrats get to pass the buck and cash the check.
However, just because the leadership of the Republican Party largely consists of feckless political hacks doesn’t mean we in the grassroots don’t have a job to do when mounting primary challenges to these de facto traitors.
This is why when vetting primary candidates to support I could care less about who’s “electable” because that’s a red herring. But I also don’t tilt at windmills, either. I fear that many in our ranks under-spiritualize elections, in that they pretend as if someone’s spirituality and worldview have absolutely no impact on their qualifications for office provided they can “win.” Forgive me if I don’t think it’s a “win” to help elect someone who disagrees with me.
Others in our ranks over-spiritualize elections and support candidates they’d never hire to run a McDonald’s let alone a state or a nation, just because they scored perfectly on the Bible trivia contest. They pretend that analyzing someone’s capabilities, gifts, and life experience for the job they’re applying for is somehow a compromise of the Constitution. When their candidate doesn’t win – again – that can actually reinforce their belief that our system is just too far gone for good people to get elected.
I reject both of these premises, because in my opinion both are flawed.
In this and the 2016 cycle still to come, we are going to see our first coordinated attempts as a movement to unseat the current power structure within the Republican Party since Reagan took on the establishment in 1976. I was only 3-years old then. Many of the liberty activists hard at work on this endeavor weren’t even alive yet. That means it behooves us to know why and how to win before the country is completely given over to statism for good.
That’s the main reason I wrote Rules for Patriots: How Conservatives Can Win Again. But with this current primary cycle now in full-swing, there’s an addendum to that book that we need to acknowledge as a movement.
That addendum is this: if we don’t run qualified candidates that represent our worldview and have the capability to do the job if nominated/elected, we aren’t going to win no matter how right we are on the issues.
I believe there are four qualifications our candidates must have if we want to win this civil war within the GOP:
Integrity—I define “integrity” as a consistency between right belief and right behavior. None of us are perfect, that’s why we need a savior. But over the long-haul of someone’s life has there been a consistency of doing and believing the right thing? When our candidates get it wrong are they willing to be teachable and transparent about those moments? Do they have any current moral or legal entanglements that will entangle us along with them if they become public? We all have a sordid past to some degree, but have our candidates learned from their past, and positioned themselves to be a testimony to personal transformation and growth once they’re tested by the fires of a campaign?
Worldview—A worldview is not just a collection of principles, but the ability to integrate them properly into a message/way of life. We have lots of candidates with the right moral views, but when challenged to implement them into a system of governance or campaign message that rallies people and puts our belief system on the offensive many of them fall apart. Just as a sports team will hold practices and scrimmages to prepare to play the opposition, we need to be similarly testing our candidates before we ever unleash them upon a hostile media and their opposition, lest we create more of the high-profile embarrassments that still sting. If our candidates don’t know why they believe what they believe, why their opponents believe what they believe, and why their opponents believe what they believe about what we believe, they’re unlikely to survive the scrutiny of a campaign. Let alone not succumb later on to the ruling classes’ temptations and corruptions if they do.
Capability—Is there anything in the candidate’s life experience that shows they can do the job? For example, if they’re running for a legislative position, have they previously shown they know how to both work within a framework but also maintain their courage of conviction successfully? Have they shown they can both form relationships in order to get things done, but also not put maintaining those relationships ahead of their principles? If they’re running for an executive position (governor or president), which is largely a managerial position, do they have any experience evaluating talent, hiring and firing, leading people in a common cause, and making tough choices that may not be popular but need to be made? Just because someone has a lot of philosophical knowledge we agree on doesn’t mean they can do the job. There are plenty of people that know our belief system better than I do, but do they have the skill-set to do a successful radio show about it?
Communication—In our current culture boring or uncharismatic candidates that don’t already have the benefit of incumbency are usually not getting elected, unless they’re running against someone similarly afflicted. Almost no one gives their time, talent, and treasure to a candidate that doesn’t inspire them. But you also have to inspire people in 140 characters or less on Twitter in today’s quick-draw world of communicating. If you can’t motivate voters with the turn of a phrase boldly and winsomely when possible, you’re probably not going to overcome the tremendous advantages the ruling class has at its disposal.
For too long we’ve bought into this tension between the process and our principles, but it’s not an either-or. It’s the principles and the process. God has given each of you reading this a talent, but it’s your job to hone that talent into a marketable skill so you can feed your family and pay your bills.
This same truth applies to politics as it does every other industry. It’s not just do you know the job, but can you do the job? If it seems I’m suggesting our candidates have a higher standard than their opponents, it’s because I am. We simply cannot amass the corporatist resources or shake-down government to cover the flaws of our candidates, as our ruling class opponents can. We have to fight not just hard, but fight smart as well and vet our candidates accordingly.
Thankfully, history shows overcoming such odds can be done when you marry your principles to preparation, for this is how our Founding Fathers defeated the Red Coats.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.