Posts Tagged Debate

A New Way Forward


There is an old saying that battle plans are effective until the fighting starts.  That is true in politics. Once the campaign actually begins anything can – and usually does – happen.  This explains why establishment favorite Jeb Bush is being over-run by Donald Trump and a socialist senator from a small state is giving Hillary Clinton a run for her money.

At this stage of the presidential race in 2008 conventional wisdom held that the General Election match-up would be a contest between Hillary Clinton and Rudy Guliani.  Four years ago, Herman Cain held a commanding lead in the polls to take on incumbent Barack Obama.  Clinton, Guliani and Cain all failed to win their party’s nomination.

Trump and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders would appear at first glance to have absolutely nothing in common.  Trump is the embodiment of free enterprise having made billions in real estate and other ventures; Sanders is an avowed socialist. But there is a common thread: each has tapped into the deep tide of discontent with the malaise that has engulfed both our domestic economy and foreign policy.  To be sure Trump and Sanders prescribe diametrically opposite solutions, but the feelings of discontent run strong on both the Left and the Right.

The challenge for Republicans, and especially for conservatives, is to present a path forward that will be both realistic, yet appeal to the nation’s desire – as Trump puts it – to make America great again.  The only certainty is that the old approach has failed.  Milquetoast nominees like Mitt Romney and John McCain spouting establishment rhetoric inspired nobody and resulted in the ideologically driven presidency of Barack Obama.

Conservatives are viewed by many voters as heartless money grubbers willing only to cut spending and kick the “lesser of these” to the streets.  But a new approach is emerging, with a presidential candidate and a think tank president leading the way.  In their own way, they have laid the ideological groundwork for a message that more accurately reflects the conservative heart.

The Conservative Heart is a new book by Arthur C. Brooks who is President of the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.  The stated purpose of the book is to challenge “the liberal monopoly on fairness and compassion.”   And Brooks does just that by explaining how free enterprise and conservative solutions have lifted more people out of poverty than any other economic system known to man.

Rick Santorum, the former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania and 2012 GOP Presidential runner-up is known primarily for his outspoken positions on social issues.  But, it is on economic issues where Santorum actually may have the most impact.  He too has written a book, Blue Collar Conservatives, in which he argues that conservatives must talk about the “blue-jeaned” worker as well as the CEO.  Santorum argues: “Conservatives give the impression they are unconcerned about the millions of hurting and vulnerable Americans” and concludes “Our country needs opportunities for all not just the financiers on the East Coast or the high-tech tycoons on the West.”

All of this, according to Brooks means we must change the focus from the Left on equalizing the “finish line” to placing emphasis on “making the starting line more equal for the vulnerable by improving education, expanding the opportunity to work, and increasing access to entrepreneurship.”  And for him, that includes fighting “cronyism that favors powerful interests and keeps the little guy down.”

Powerful interests, of course, abound in both political parties.  But they are small in number compared to the “blue collar conservatives” to which both Santorum and Brooks argue the GOP must appeal.  It would be a bold new approach and a departure from the past.  But having lost the last two presidential elections, for conservatives and for Republicans a departure from the past would be a good thing.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal.  His e-mail address is lhenry@lincolninstitute.org.)

Permission to reprint is permitted if author and affiliation are cited.

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This Week on Lincoln Radio Journal: Employee Freedom Week


Radio Program Schedule for the Week of July 13, 2013 – July 19, 2013

This week on American Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry talks with Chris Jacobs of the Heritage Foundation about the mounting failures of Obamacare
  • Andy Roth of the Club for Growth has the Real Story behind the cyber recruitment of a congressional challenger
  • Eric Boehm has a Watchdog Radio look at fiscal mismanagement of federal housing dollars in Texas
  • Colin Hanna of Let Freedom Ring, USA has an American Radio Journal commentary on President Obama’s narcissism

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  • Eric Boehm and Melissa Daniels have news headlines from www.paindependent.com
  • Lowman Henry has a Newsmaker interview with Matthew Wagner of Pennsylvanians for Right to Work about Employee Freedom Week
  • Joe Geiger of the First Nonprofit Foundation has Tish Mogan from the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations in the Community Benefit Spotlight to talk about community EMS groups and financial accountability
  • Jennifer Stefano from the PA Chapter of Americans for Prosperity has a Stefano Speaks! commentary on food stamps and the entitlement mentality

Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!

http://www.lincolnradiojournal.com

http://www.americanradiojournal.com

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This Week on Lincoln Radio Journal: Warren Hudak Talks Capital Stock & Franchise Tax


Radio Program Schedule for the Week of June 22, 2013 – June 28, 2013

This week on American Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry talks with Jim Harper of the CATO Institute about the balance between privacy and security
  • Andy Roth of the Club for Growth has the Real Story on the defeat of the Farm Bill in the U.S. House of Representatives
  • Benjamin Yount has a Watchdog Radio look at changes to voter rules in the states with Eric Veram of the Lucy Burns Institute
  • Colin Hanna of Let Freedom Ring, USA has an American Radio Journal commentary on the U.S. Senate’s immigration reform bill

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  • Eric Boehm and Melissa Daniels have news headlines from www.paindependent.com
  • David Taylor of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association hosts a Capitol Watch roundtable discussion on improving the state’s tax climate to attract more business with Kevin Shivers from the PA Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business and with Warren Hudak of Hudak & Company
  • Lowman Henry has a Town Hall Commentary on the biggest Washington scandal

Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!

http://www.lincolnradiojournal.com

http://www.americanradiojournal.com

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This Week on Lincoln Radio Journal: Matt Pitzarella Talks Clean Energy Technology


Radio Program Schedule for the Week of May 18, 2013 – May 24, 2013

This week on American Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry talks with Bridget Johnson of PJ Media about the scandals enveloping the Obama Administration
  • Andy Roth of the Club for Growth has the Real Story behind congressional pressure on the IRS to target conservative groups
  • Benjamin Yount and Eric Boehm have a Watchdog Radio look at budget problems facing state governments
  • Dr. Paul Kengor from the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College has an American Radio Journal commentary on President Obama, Planned Parenthood and abortion

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  • Eric Boehm and Melissa Daniels have news headlines from www.paindependent.com
  • Lowman Henry talks with Matt Pitzarella of Range Resources about the impact of advancements in clean energy technology
  • Joe Geiger from the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations has Matt Lane from the Central Penn College Education Foundation in the Nonprofit Spotlight
  • Jennifer Stefano has a Stefano Speaks! commentary on the IRS targeting of conservative organizations

Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!

http://www.lincolnradiojournal.com

http://www.americanradiojournal.com

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This Week on American Radio Journal: Henry Olsen on Values and Capitalism


Radio Program Schedule for the Week of March 17, 2012 – March 23, 2012

This week on American Radio Journal:

  • Lowman Henry talks with Henry Olsen, Vice President of the American Enterprise Institute about their new book series Values & Capitalism
  • Andy Roth of the Club for Growth has the Real Story behind the rough road to re-election Senator Orrin Hatch faces in Utah
  • Colin Hanna of Let Freedom Ring, USA says Republicans should keep their eyes on November

This week on Lincoln Radio Journal:

  • David Taylor of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association hosts a Capitol Watch roundtable discussion on the Union Party vs the Taxpayer Party with Kevin Shivers from the PA Chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business and with Matthew Brouillette of the Commonwealth Foundation
  • Lowman Henry has a Town Hall Commentary on Rick Santorum and education snobs

Visit the program web sites for more information about air times. There, you can also stream live or listen to past programs!

http://www.lincolnradiojournal.com

http://www.americanradiojournal.com

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It’s Debatable: Candidates’ debate performances have defined 2012 race


Presidential debates have a rich history of making – or breaking – candidates. It began with the very first such debate held in 1960 when John Kennedy’s confident, youthful appearance doomed a sweating Richard Nixon to defeat. The latest candidate to feel the sting of a poor debate performance is Rick Santorum.

Pennsylvania’s former U.S. Senator narrowly lost the Michigan primary to Mitt Romney after having held a double digit lead in several polls just two weeks ago. After winning a trifecta of states on February 7th, Santorum surged both nationally and in Michigan. All that stood between Rick Santorum and an embarrassing, perhaps campaign-ending, rout of Mitt Romney was one debate in Arizona.

That debate did not go well for Santorum. True, there was not one “gotcha” moment or a major gaffe, but Santorum allowed himself to be on the defensive, sank into Washington speak, and permitted Romney to paint him as the beltway insider. Meanwhile, the former Massachusetts governor appeared poised and confident, in command and on the attack. Most analysts agree Santorum regained his balance the second half of the debate, but the damage had been done.

Santorum’s poor performance in the Arizona debate followed what was perhaps his best debate performance, the final meeting of the candidates prior to January’s Florida primary. In that debate, it was Santorum who was on the attack, pinning Romney to the mat on Romneycare and emerging as the strongest personality on the stage. That performance helped fuel Santorum’s wins in Missouri, Minnesota and Colorado.

There have been 20 debates among the Republican Presidential candidates this year and those forums have played an out-sized role in shaping and defining the race. Texas Governor Rick Perry entered the contest with a huge lead in the polls, but stumbled badly in his first debate performances, even suffering brain freeze while listing the three federal cabinet departments he would eliminate. Since those debates were his first exposure to a wide national audience, they created a bad image of Perry in the minds of voters; it was an image he was unable to overcome.

Conversely, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich owes the fact that he remains in the race to his superb debate performances. In the early debates Gingrich was the adult in the room, talking serious policy and keeping the focus on Barack Obama while the others bickered like children. In the weeks leading up to the South Carolina primary, which he won, Gingrich turned in perhaps his best debate performances greatly enhancing both his stature and his standing in the polls. Again, at the final debate in Arizona, Gingrich appeared the most presidential.

And then there is Mitt Romney. While the others have sprinted and stumbled, he has been the marathon man. Romney has never been the star of a debate, nor has he committed a campaign-defining gaffe. Reflective of his managerial personality, he has simply done what needed to be done – nothing more, nothing less. And it is that consistency throughout the debates that has allowed him to weather periodic surges by the other candidates.

Fortunately for Rick Santorum the primary calendar gave him time to recover from his poor performance in the Arizona debate. He was on the upswing when Michigan voters went to the polls, falling just short of inflicting a humiliating defeat on Romney. Given that Michigan is Romney’s state of birth, and his father was a popular governor there years ago, Romney should have stomped Santorum. That it took a self-inflicted wound by Santorum to give Romney an anemic three percent win illustrates the fact that the former Massachusetts governor still has not closed the deal with the vast majority of Republican primary voters.

The good news for Pennsylvania Republicans is that our state’s presidential primary will actually matter this year. Romney leads in delegates, but needs to end up with more than Santorum, Gingrich and Ron Paul combined. A treasure trove of delegates is at stake on April 24th, when both Keystone state voters and those in the state of New York go to the polls. It will be a pivotal day. Whether or not the nomination is decided that day is, well, debatable.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal. His e-mail address is lhenry@lincolninstitute.org.)

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Black Robed Bandits: High court creates electoral chaos in Penn’s Woods


Every ten years following the decennial census the Pennsylvania state constitution requires the redrawing of legislative district lines to account for shifts in population. Under the best of circumstances it is a partisan, messy process that generally protects those in power and elicits howls of protest from those who are not.

The redistricting plan approved late last year by the Pennsylvania Reapportionment Commission was no exception to that rule. But the process veered into uncharted territory on January 25th when the Pennsylvania Supreme Court invalidated the plan throwing the electoral process into chaos.

For those not attuned to the fine points of running for office the extent of the monkey wrench thrown into the election can be explained by the manner in which candidates get on the ballot. There is a three week period during which candidates for both the state house and the state senate must obtain signatures from registered members of their respective parties in the district in which they are running. The petition circulation period began on January 24th, the day before the high court’s ruling.

In a vaguely worded directive handed down with the announcement of its ruling, the Supreme Court ordered candidates to circulate nomination petitions based upon the 2001 redistricting rather than the 2011 plan. The problem is under any redistricting plan seats disappear in areas that have lost population, while new districts are drawn in areas with a population gain. By court order those new districts no longer exist, hence candidates cannot circulate petitions.

To illustrate the absurdity of the current situation consider the circumstance of State Senator Jim Brewster of the 45th district in Allegheny County. Due to relative population loss in southwestern Pennsylvania his district was eliminated in the now invalidated 2011 plan. Conversely, a completely new state senate district was created in Monroe County which experienced a relative population gain.

Under the 2011 plan Senator Brewster had no district in which to run. If the 2001 plan remains in effect for this year’s election cycle, he can seek re-election. Therefore, he can circulate petitions to gain ballot access. Back in Monroe County State Representative Mario Scavello was set to run for the new state senate seat. The seat has now disappeared leaving him no territory in which to circulate. But what happens if, at the end of the process that new district reappears?

These and many other questions were left unanswered because a week later no complete ruling had been handed down giving direction to the reapportionment commission as to what changes must be made to pass muster with the high court. That is because several of the justices headed off to a conference in the tropics, leaving mass chaos at home.

Although the Legislative Reapportionment Commission bears some portion of blame for the current mess because it dawdled until December to approve a new redistricting plan, the Supreme Court was derelict in its duty by waiting until after the petition circulation process was underway to issue a ruling. Each of the justices was elected to the court, meaning they are familiar with the process. They had an obligation to rule in a timely manner to give the commission time to correct the plan’s deficiencies in time for the election season to begin. Not only did the justices fail in that regard, but jetting off for sand and surf while the entire legislative election process remains in limbo is the height of judicial arrogance.

Add to this an undercurrent of suspicion that the ruling had more to do with the court’s demands for more funding from the legislature than the validity of the new legislative district lines and the Supreme Court once again has strayed into territory that undermines its credibility and breeds public contempt for the judicial process.

Members of the Legislative Reapportionment Commission remain hopeful of crafting a new redistricting plan that will meet with the court’s approval. Somebody must restore the dignity and order to the process stolen by the Supreme Court’s untimely action. For the sake of a fair election let us hope the Legislative Reapportionment Commission can get the job done.

(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal. His e-mail address is lhenry@lincolninstitute.org.)

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