Donald Trump won’t be getting my vote in the GOP presidential primary. However, contrary to popular belief, I’m grateful he’s put the GOP on life support, and he isn’t alone. Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson, and Marco Rubio are doing what’s been unseen since Ronald Reagan: speaking above the political and media elite and directly to the people. I suspect Trump will fade. And when he does, those who can effectively communicate a vision for America with passion, optimism, and a plan that will restore her to prominence will be poised to siphon off his supporters.
So how is Trump benefitting the GOP exactly? He’s given us an audience we wouldn’t have otherwise. Many liberals are listening to conservative ideas that have been largely ignored or filtered by the media until now. For instance, I have a Latino friend whose mom is a New York liberal. She despises the GOP; however, she adores Trump. She believes he’s speaking “truth.” As a result, she’s begun paying attention to Cruz and Rubio as well.
Americans instinctively want to be the best. We‘re tired of power hungry politicians. Whether Trump is speaking out against China’s unfair trade practices and Common Core, or speaking up for a border fence and our vets, he’s convinced the public that he‘s their “champion” who will fight for them — he just happens to be a Republican. They‘re convinced if he can “Make America Great Again,” they’ll be the benefactors of a national resurgence. Cruz and Fiorina, particularly, have wisely capitalized on the Trump phenomena to showcase their own skills.
Just last week, Carly Fiorina took on Jake Tapper of CNN regarding the Planned Parenthood video scandal. Likewise, Ted Cruz displayed why he’s a formidable candidate by creating a spontaneous debate with Code Pink leader Medea Benjamin. In both cases, Cruz and Fiorina framed the debate on their terms. In 2012, Mitt Romney allowed President Obama and his cohorts in the media to define him. We know how that turned out! Conservatism without the ability to communicate it effectively is a lost cause. A good debater understands that your opponents’ questions or remarks should serve as a springboard for your own message. Politicians don’t win on defense.
Recall Carly Fiorina‘s recent appearance on CNN. After a biased Jake Tapper asked whether or not she agreed with Hillary Clinton that Governor Scott Walker’s bill banning abortions in Wisconsin after 20 weeks with no exceptions for rape and incest was extreme, she refused to take the bait. Instead, she did several things:
- She refused to acknowledge Scott Walker’s position.
- She filibustered Tapper from interrupting when he realized his “gotcha” question wouldn’t be answered to his liking.
- She didn’t accept Tapper’s premise that preventing a late-term abortion was “extreme.“
- She defined “extreme” by exposing Hillary Clinton‘s belief that a life doesn’t begin until it leaves the hospital.
- She called out Tapper and the left-wing media for not reporting Hillary’s extreme position on abortion, thereby putting him on defense.
- She used an emotional appeal to moms who call their babies a “baby” during the same stage of pregnancy an abortionist calls it a specimen, tissue, or fetus.
In short, Carly Fiorina framed the argument on her terms. She didn’t allow the left to define her.
That same week, Ted Cruz was overwhelmed by yelling and screaming Code Pink protesters as he spoke at a Concerned Women of America rally. Rather than speak over them, he invited the leader, Medea Benjamin, to debate him on the merits of the Iran nuke deal. She was shocked, but graciously accepted his invitation to engage in civil discourse.
As she began spewing her naive rhetoric, Cruz remained quiet until she finished. When he was interrupted by the protesters he reminded them that “civil discourse” requires both sides listening. When Medea called opponents of the Iran deal “religious zealots,” Ted Cruz scolded her for using divisive intolerant language and admonished her to follow proper decorum by not calling names. To my shock, she agreed. He then eviscerated her premise that Obama’s deal with Iran would bring about peace in the Middle East. Cruz reminded Medea that Jimmy Carter’s inability to negotiate the terms of release for our American hostages in Iran was due to his weakness. Furthermore, he explained how it was Ronald Reagan’s “peace through strength“ policy that inspired Iran to release the hostages on day one of his administration. Cruz neither conceded the moral high ground nor accepted her premise. He used her own arguments against her. Additionally, notice he didn’t censor the left despite them attempting to censor him.
For those of you who are concerned that Trump is sucking the air out of the room, you’re right! Fortunately for us, it’s a lot of hot air from the left. Cruz and Fiorina have been smart enough to realize that and use it for their own momentum.
Photo credit: “Carly Fiorina by Gage Skidmore 2” by Gage Skidmore. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
Carl Jackson is a radio talk show host – his web site is www.carljacksonshow.com