Matt Lewis at AOL has a post that dovetails with my observation that candidates perceived as “serious” did better in the midterm elections. Lewis writes, in part:
“But the elixir of winning is powerful. And somewhere along the way, a large segment of conservatism became unmoored from its core principles. But thankfully, last Tuesday’s election returns are a signal that serious conservatism is back. In the U.S. Senate, House of Representatives and governor’s mansions, many of the most serious conservatives won election (while some of the less serious conservative candidates did not).
And the election of such candidates as Sen.-elect Marco Rubio of Florida and Gov.-elect Nikki Haley of South Carolina laid to rest the notion that conservatives must be forced to choose between the grassroots candidates we really want and those who can be elected.”
Lewis goes on to quote Peggy Noonan extensively, but don’t hold that against him. Her breathless schoolgirl crush on Barack Obama was over a trillion dollars ago, and she makes some good points in the essay quoted by Lewis.
Republican losses in the 2010 midterm highlight the need for serious, professional candidates. Politics is a profession, a point Lewis makes by recounting the hard work Ronald Reagan put into earning his position. A background of nothing but politics produces useless “community organizers,” but previous life experience in the real world must be blended with solid conservative philosophy, charisma, and genuine political skill. This is especially important when we remember how much of the system is biased against conservatives, including entrenched bureaucracies and the media. Nobody should be surprised when the press rushes past an obvious lunatic like Dick Blumenthal to pin Stephanie McMahon to the mat. We have to be ready for that, rather than complaining about it after the elections are over.
This kind of serious professionalism is something the Republican Party should contribute, in its ongoing fusion with the Tea Party. That means no more snippy establishment types leaving neophyte insurgents to twist in the wind after winning their primaries. The GOP can do more than just contribute money to its candidates. It has access to experts in campaign organization and image management, who can help polish the rough edges of outsiders with little political experience.
For their part, those outsider candidates should be ready to do their part: study the issues carefully, and exercise discipline in public appearances. Remember most of the press hates you. Primary voters should carefully consider the past history of exciting new candidates before handing them a nomination. You don’t want them to be too exciting. Try looking at their previous history in the worst possible light, and ask yourself if they’ll be able to deal with a media who will certainly do the same.
These are serious times, and they demand leadership from outside the public sector, which has spent oceans of our money making them serious. Politics should not come as a surprise to the people we nominate to meet that demand.