On ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos yesterday, in a clip of Chris Christie giving a talk to the Economic Club of Chicago, the New Jersey Governor said, “Our party’s priority should be on wining. Not winning the argument, winning the election.”
He was speaking to a group of Republicans about how to unite the GOP and win elections. I am surprised that no one has pointed out the obvious flaw in this statement.
Winning the argument is the purpose of elections. Choosing between two competing ideas about policy and direction for the country as a whole is why you have elections. This cynical view that money equals speech and that winning is the end all to be all for someone running to serve the public is why democracy is broken.
But what Christie said has become accepted wisdom not just among politicians but even among the people who elect them.
Take for instance the author of this right leaning article. The problem with Christie’s advice according to this person seems to be that winning is important, but what you do after you win is the problem. "Yes, winning is important but that seems to be the only point to Republican Republicans, the Establishment Republicans. Then there seems to be some kind of black hole stretching into the future as to what what happens next. Tell us, what is the important that that [sic] comes after that"
Right, well that’s where the argument during the campaign comes in. Campaigns are always full of promises; some kept, many not kept. But in order for voters to make an informed decision with their vote, candidates should be required to make the argument to the people by the people.
As long as you can raise a bunch of money and get your name and face in front of a bunch of people, you can get elected. Of course they don’t do what you want them to do after they win. Especially if you let them off the hook by not even demanding they persuade you with solid arguments grounded in reality when they were just candidates asking for your vote.
Just like during the last presidential election when the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, was asked for his economic plan, his response was something like, ‘I’ll let you know after I get elected.’ The Republicans won in 2010 with the same sort of argument.
Christie’s statement is his answer to electing an “authentic, believable spokesman…” Not a trustworthy spokesman, just someone that can say the right things in order to seem authentic. Is that good enough for the American people?
Change starts from the bottom up. From the Abolitionist Movement, to the Feminist movement, to the Civil Rights Movement, change has come from people who made the argument and spread the argument as far and wide as possible.
Even at a time when getting a message out to the masses was a thousand times harder than it is today, people managed to persuade society to make change. Once the people demanded those changes, politicians were forced to make those changes in order to get elected.
Somewhere along the line, the people have just come to expect to be lied to and pandered to while expecting their elected leaders to make the changes they claimed they would make during their dog and pony show, I mean, their campaign.
How can you expect them to make changes when your sole basis for electing them is their electability? That’s an inside the beltway, cynical idea of democracy.