I am old enough to remember the Presidential campaign of 1980. The talking heads and elites said the Republican candidate running for office was dangerously flawed, unqualified, ill-informed, naïve and prone to dangerous gaffs.
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They called his economic plan voo-doo, and said his foreign policy ideas were needlessly provocative. Several prominent Republicans refused to endorse him.
He was in a deep hole most of the fall campaign. When the votes were counted Ronald Reagan carried 44 states and defeated incumbent Jimmy Carter by 10 points.
How did a candidate considered so flawed manage to crawl out of his hole? He offered something so compelling that voters were willing to overlook his supposed flaws, and the collective wisdom of the chattering class.
He promised a modernized military capable of winning the cold war. A dramatic income tax cut to lift an economy on its knees. New initiatives to spur energy exploration to ease gasoline shortages.
And therein lies a lesson for those running for office, or those who may run for office in the future. If you are in a hole…be bold. Be provocative. Offer a policy prescription your opponent won’t. And borrow one other lesson from Reagan. Lift people up. Dare to sing a song of hope. Rather than denigrate, inspire. Rather than bemoan the present, paint a picture of what can be. Instead of inciting hatred and instilling fear, rise above the chorus of the age.
Next week, we’ll talk about yet another way to crawl out of a hole, one that has worked well for countless candidates running for office.
Have questions? Hit the comment button. Or email me at [email protected]. My phone number is 845-458-1210.
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Political consultant Jay Townsend works with smart, passionate candidates who want to run for office, win elections and make a difference. He has successfully helped candidates learn how to run for the U.S. Senate, how to run for Congress, how to run for Mayor and develop a winning campaign marketing strategy.
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