This may be the most important CPAC since Ronald Reagan helped launch the annual gathering in 1975.
There are two big facts about the 2008 election.
FACT #1: Running as a bland, business-as-usual Republican will be a dead loser. In 2006, the American people repudiated the GOP, because the idea of Republicans’ trying to manage the liberal welfare state they inherited from the Democrats was a dead loser. I am not sure many Republican consultants have come to understand this. Certainly the elite news media want Republicans to run as non-ideological “centrists” who will then have no persuasive appeal to the vast majority of Americans that elected Ronald Reagan in 1980 and ’84 and the Contract with America House Republicans in 1994.
FACT #2: Focusing on an anti-Hillary campaign will also be a dead loser. The Clintons are the most determined and intense politicians of our lifetime. I just read Ambassador Bill Middendorf’s A Glorious Disaster: Barry Goldwater’s campaign and the Origins of the Conservative Movement (read my review here), and he reminded me of the ferocity of the 1964 Lyndon Johnson campaign. It reminded me of the Clinton campaign style.
If a campaign is going to degenerate into a mud slinging contest, the Clintons will always win because they are vastly more ready to jump into the pit. The recent attacks over David Geffen and Barack Obama are just a sample of how quickly and fiercely the Clintons will attack if the campaign is simply about who can “out negative” whom.
THE KEY to victory in 2008 is for conservatives to communicate three big messages:
- America is faced with historic challenges that require historic responses. That is a much different style and approach than we get out of traditional politicians and their traditional consultants.
- If we do the right things and implement the right changes, we can build a better, safer, freer and more prosperous America. We should have the nerve to go into every neighborhood and every community and explain why our better future will work. The liberal welfare state has failed, and its bureaucracies cannot be defended if we focus on the human costs of their failures. It is our challenge to focus on the big choices, the big truths and the big contrasts, not on the petty politics of personal viciousness that characterize so much of the current system.
- This choice between a failed liberal, welfare-state future and an exciting, successful, conservative, opportunity- society future requires transformation at all levels of American elected office (511,000+ elected officials) and not merely the oval office.
These are the themes and the call to action I will outline Saturday at CPAC. I hope to see you there.
But lest you think CPAC is going to be all business this year, we’re going to have some fun too.
Those of you who listen to my daily radio commentaries may have heard me talk about the power of prizes to unleash the creative, entrepreneurial spirit of Americans. Today, I want to tell you about two contests that I am sponsoring to unleash the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of conservatives. The first will be at CPAC, and the second is going on now, online at YouTube, in my Winning the Future group.
The Winning the Future Text Message Challenge
CPAC is a gathering that is full of history. And it’s a place for getting together to discuss the solutions that will shape our future. That’s why at CPAC, my team and I will be hosting the Winning the Future Text Message Challenge.
What is the Winning the Future Text Message Challenge? It’s a chance for College Republicans, state delegations, Facebook groups — anyone attending CPAC — to go head-to-head to see who knows the most about the ideas and principles that have shaped the conservative movement.
Participants will receive five text message questions. The team that answers the most questions correctly wins. So to win, teams have to both know the facts about the conservative movement and get a lot of people to join their team.
The winning team will be recognized in the March 5 edition of “Winning the Future” and all participants who answer the questions correctly will be entered into a pool for several prizes. You don’t have to play as a member of a team to participate.
So dust off your back issues of National Review and Human Events and brush up on your Reagan quotes. I’m looking for a few good conservative men and women to take the Winning the Future Text Message Challenge.
To register your team, click here. Be certain to fill out all the required fields, and you’ll receive instructions on Thursday, the first day of CPAC.
Or see one of our volunteers at CPAC wearing blue American Solutions T-shirts.
The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg YouTube Contest
Here’s how one blogger, Matt Lewis at Townhall.com, described the premise of my second contest, the Winning the Future Goose that Laid the Golden Egg YouTube Contest:
“By taxing us and discouraging Free Enterprise, liberals are killing the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
I’ve been trying to get across to Congress that the reason the economy has been growing is that entrepreneurs have had incentives to go out and work, invent and create. The reason America has done so much better than Europe, for instance, is that our taxes are lower and our incentives are higher.
We’ve had this wonderful goose called the American economy that just keeps laying golden eggs — creating more jobs, more growth and more prosperity — and yet, you have folks who want to raise taxes and kill the goose.
It’s like the children’s story. If some politicians decide that they have enough golden eggs, they will have a big feast and cook the goose. And then they’ll wonder why there are no more golden eggs.
#1 Rule: Your Video Must Be Understandable by a Sixth Grade Class or a Member of Congress
Like I said, I’ve been trying to get this across to Congress, but so far, I haven’t had any luck. So I decided to have a contest.
Anyone who wants to — anyone with a camera, a computer and a creative concept — can enter a two-minute video that is your explanation of the American economy — the goose that laid the golden eggs — and the danger that tax increases are going to kill the goose and end the eggs.
However, there’s a rule: Your video has to be understandable by a sixth grade class or a member of Congress.
To learn how to submit your video, just go to newt.org. The winner will receive a signed copy of the Contract with America and a signed, leather-bound copy of my book, Winning the Future.
You can help advertise the contest by hosting this video on your website or blog.
Is Your Idea the Next Great Conservative Idea?
So if you haven’t already, sign up for CPAC and enter the Winning the Future Text Message Challenge. And grab your camera and tell Congress why our free enterprise system is the Goose That Laid the Golden Egg.
You never know where the next great conservative idea will come from. It may come from you.