Los Cruces, NM- About 20 years ago, the state of Texas was not the deep, dark, bleeding-red Republican state is today. But in 1994, George Bush Jr. wanted to bring down the immensely popular governor of Texas, Anne Richards and replace her with himself. A lot of people thought it could not happen. But, with what senator Ted Cruz called “an almost inhuman commitment to staying on message” Bush won.
Such an “inhuman” commitment would well serve many of the Republicans who say they are running for president.
It served not only Bush in 94’ but also, much more recently, just this year, in Britain, another conservative, David Cameron, was running for reelection to the prime minister of the United Kingdom. He campaigned relentlessly on the fact that he had created a thousand new jobs a day during his administration, and that the Labor Party, his opposition, had in its last span in office, a thirteen year span, at that, had run the country out of money. Cameron repeated those facts until, whether they were true or not, every British person had heard them, and enough believed it to give Cameron a stunning victory.
But in 2015, with Republicans having a field so large that someone would want to try to keep pounding their message until it got into the thick scull of the American voter, only a few seem to be doing it. In fact, only a couple of members of the GOP Field have managed to define themselves, and not in a good way.
Donald Trump has defined himself as a loud mouth and an annoying person. Jeb Bush has defined himself as someone who might win but without much enthusiasm. For the others, they still seem to be fighting for a definition
Although it would seem that by now Rand Paul would be pretty well branded as a libertarian, many still question his serious far-right credentials. Marco Rubio has established that he is a real conservative, but many are still unsure about him, and he really does not have a national brand at this time. His message is unclear. He says things like "fix America" but he has yet to lay out a way he will do that.
As for the rest, Ted Cruz, for better or worse, true or not, is known as a crazy man by many. Yet that doesn’t tell Americans much about what he plans on doing should he become president. But even that label stands out in a field full of the likes of George Pataki, John Kasich, Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, Carly Fiorina, Rick Santorum etc. Candidates who, it seems, the last time they really articulated their message was on the day they announced they were running, if they even did it then.
You don't generally win just by saying empty things like "bring back the American dream" "restore America" etc. That is all good and well, but that is not a vision, and eventually people will want to get past all of the sugar candy and find some real message, and most of the candidates aren't doing that, so they aren't going anywhere in the polls.
Donald Trump is doing it, which is why is having such great success. Everyone from Rick Perry to Lindsey Graham would do well to take at least one lesson from the Donald, and that is to find yourself a message, and stick with it.
Andrew C. Abbott