Trent Clark on The Optimistic Conservative Winner
In an interesting column entitled, "Opinion: The optimistic conservative", Trent Clark refers to optimism and American politics. Some highlights:
- “Optimism” about positive results from political participation is crucial and can determine the success of the campaign itself. Professional campaigners describe opponents as “dark, depressing, filled with ominous observations and forecasting a dire future.” They know this erodes their opponent’s ability to build a grassroots team of supporters.
- Ronald Reagan was the master at turning negativism into a positive. When asked in 1984 if, at 74, he was “too old” to run for president, he flipped the question on 56-year-old Walter Mondale saying, “I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience.” Reagan’s campaign theme that year was "It's Morning Again in America." His advertisements proclaimed America was "Prouder, Stronger, and Better" as a result of conservative policies.
- “Optimism was just such a natural characteristic of Ronald Reagan that it was implicit in everything we did,” said Ed Meese, early campaign chair and eventual attorney general under Reagan. “He did this subtly by his own manner, by the ideas he projected and by his talks in which he expressed his confidence in the American people.”
- Reagan set the precedent. Ever since, the conservative leader is whomever can capture the optimistic voice.
For conservatives the temptation is always to dwell on how bad things are. But we have a name for the conservative candidate who optimistically offers a better future: the election winner.