Thanks to the generosity of the First Things editorial staff, today is the debut of my biweekly On The Square column. It is on the Republican party and the lower middle-class.
[...] Go to the Source: Postmodern Conservative [...]
Congrats Pete! Next step, television!
Bob, thanks a lot, but television would not be my friend.
Pete is definitely on the move. And with good reason. Who else is better on our key issues? If Ben Carson is serious, he needs to study with Pete. If various Republican journals want to reinvigorate their brands, they need to turn to Pete. Maybe not much TV, but MOOCs and TEDs are on Pete’s horizon.
Totally on board the go-Pete-go! movement.
That’s very flattering guys and I thank you a lot. Problem is that everybody already gets all my ideas for free as they occur to me (with a twelve to twenty-four hour delay due to family and work responsibilities.)
On Ben Carson, I am of three minds.
1. If he were my dad or uncle I would advise him not to run. Carson seems like a brilliant, wildly professionally successful, deeply decent, ideologically idiosyncratic but basically conservative person. The problem is that he has no experience with having his political ideas and his explanations for his political ideas being the basis for his success in a culturally hostile environment. Our media-political cycle is virtually designed to destroy guys like Carson if they aren’t very careful and careful is very complicated in this context.
2. ARE WE ALL INSANE? Mark Sanford just won a Republican primary in South Carolina. Jesse Jackson Jr. was overwhelmingly reelected despite being institutionalized and facing the likely prospect of criminal charges. If our electoral politics has space for those two guys but not Ben Carson, then we deserve everything we get as a country.
3. There is a third way. It involves talking primarily to small groups of swing-voters in authentic-as-possible low stakes environments. Talk about your policy preferences. Listen to their concerns and priorities. Using that feedback, rethink your message and (to the extent consistent with principle), your policies. Find the policy common ground and a common language on politics (no doubt Carson has that rapport on other things.) Step on the landmines when the television cameras aren’t on, so you won’t step on them in the campaign. That is what Reagan did for years before running for government office and the lessons and skills acquired can’t be bought from any campaign consultant. It goes without saying that he should listen to guys like Yuval Levin, Reihan Salam, and James Capretta, but listening to those guys would actually be the easy part.
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