Message of the Week Award

November 8, 2007 at 1:35 am

Election 2008 is starting to get fun. This week we introduce the Message of the Week Award. This award will go to the candidate who does the best job of explaining their vision. Without further ado, our inaugural MOTWA goes to the candidate who set a new record for fund raising in a single day, Ron Paul.

Glenn Greenwald argues that people are passionate about Paul because he is an outsider. His campaign “defies and despises conventional and deeply entrenched Beltway assumptions about … what kind of country this is supposed to be.”

Part of the interest in Paul, though, seems to be because of his clear and concise message. Disgust with the federal government gets outsider candidates a first look. Howard Dean almost won the nomination as an outsider. His campaign fell apart because the media characterized him as “angry” and he wasn’t able to define himself further than that. To go further, candidates need a clear and sharp vision and so far Ron Paul seems to have done the best job articulating his beliefs.

I’ve read a couple of articles about Paul and caught one or two of his campaign videos. Off the top of my head, what I remember about Paul is that he is:

  • For a minimalist government
  • For the Constitution as he believes it was originally intended
  • Against the war in Iraq and other foreign wars
  • Against taxes – If I remember correctly, he’s mentioned abolishing the IRS
  • For reinstating the gold standard
  • Against public education
  • Against abortion (which strikes me as kind of odd for a Libertarian to advocate more government)

By comparison, here’s what I can tell you about Barack Obama after reading countless articles on him, watching him speak numerous times on TV, seeing him deliver his stump speech live, and buying his t-shirt. Obama is:

  • Against business as usual in Washington
  • Against the Iraq War
  • For hope and change (not sure exactly what this means, but he seems to be running a campaign of hope)
  • Running a positive campaign
  • Trying to differentiate himself from Hillary Clinton
  • For community

I found myself struggling to define Obama’s vision from memory. This is not to say that Paul’s vision is better than Barack’s vision. But in order for me to articulate what Barack is for, I’d have to work harder. For example, I’d have to dig to remember what exactly he wants to change other than the Iraq War. I’d have to dig to remember his views on community.

Take a look at Paul’s website for an example of how clearly his message is communicated. (Note: I went here after trying to first define his message from memory and was not surprised to see why he seems more in focus.) His views are defined and communicated clearly on a single page.

One example: Ron on independence and sovereignty (and trade)

So called free trade deals and world governmental organizations like the International Criminal Court (ICC), NAFTA, GATT, WTO, and CAFTA are a threat to our independence as a nation.

Now I completely disagree with this view, but I appreciate how clearly it is communicated. There is no doubt what Ron is for. No NAFTA, GATT, WTO, or other international governing organizations. Again, by comparison, try to find this clarity on Barack’s website or in his stump speeches. This is, I believe, the real reason he is running behind Hillary.

For this clarity and honesty of vision, Ron Paul wins our first Message of the Week Award.

Some Other Messaging Highlights

1. Giuliani’s campaign moved to move beyond 9/11 after Senator Biden’s crushing comment that this was all he had. The fact that his campaign jumped as if someone lit a firecracker under them might as well be an admission that 9/11 is all he has.

2. By comparison with Ron Paul above, read Obama’s take on the issues. First of all, it is written in 3rd person. As if someone else is writing his opinions. Not very “leaderly.” Second, and more importantly, he often gets caught up in the weeds of policy. After starting out with a fairly strong statement about “leaving the earth better than we found it,” he segues into a long paragraph about how he has plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to blah, blah, blah. You’ve lost me. Why? Policy. If you believe in the environment, of course you’ll have plans to do something about it. Help us out here. Make it easy for us to find what you believe in instead of having to pull it out of a long speech or worse, a page like this.