Is It Wise For Rick Perry To Campaign on Making Government Inconsequential?

Bookmark and Share    When Rick Perry ended his presidential announcement by vowing to work hard to make government inconsequential in our lives, he set in motion a bumpy national drive down the road to the White House. Those words were chosen very carefully. They were reviewed by conservative test groups. They were compared to other similar tag lines and they were settled upon only once a team of talented strategists armed with positive research results to support their opinion, agreed that they were the right words to speak if Rick Perry wanted to win a plurality of the Republican vote.

Publicly stating that you want a job so that you can work hard to make sure that less is done with it is quite bold and a big risk. But not when it comes to the Republican presidential nomination. Republicans want government to do less. They want it to mange less of their lives, make less decisions for them, create fewer limitations and regulations on their lives, and take and spend less of its money. Indeed, as made evident by the rise of the Taxed Enough Already movement, quite a  number of Americans have come to echo this sentiment. So it can be said that Rick Perry’s call for a government that is as inconsequential in our lives as possible, is a good way to win the Republican presidential nomination. The quote is powerful phraseology that allows Republicans and voters fed up with government, to understand that Rick Perry gets it.

But will the collective thought process of the American general electorate get it in November?

That is the risk that Rick Perry takes in his bold statement.

Perry is banking on the thinking that after seeing an extremely activist, liberal government in action, they have come to understand that government can in fact go too far and do too much. It is essentially an ideological argument. And while the argument has been settled by the Republican and conservative base vote, it has not yet been completely established by the general electorate as a whole. But supporting Perry’s position is some yearly polling done by the nonpartisan Gallup organization.  It has shown that except for three years in the early 2000’s, most Americans identify themselves as being conservative.

Recently, in a years worth of nationwide surveys, Gallup found that there are more self-identified conservatives than liberals in every single state in America. The study even found that Rhode Island is the state with the largest number of self professed liberals at 29.3%,  but even there, 29.9% of the population define their political persuasion as conservative.  That’s a .6% lead over liberals.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that there are more registered Republicans than Democrats but it does demonstrate that the conservative brand has far more positive connotations than the liberal brand does and is much easier to sell than the liberal ideology.

Based upon his powerful statement, Rick Perry is willing to bet that those numbers will hold up next Fall when the American electorate has a choice between possibly him and President Obama.

Rick Perry seems to be ready to make the 2012 election an ideological battle, a referendum between libertarian conservatism and socialist liberalism. Based upon the numbers, on its surface the gambit is a good one.  Or is it?

It did not work for Barry Goldwater in 1964, but it did work for Reagan in 1980 and George H.W. Bush in 1988. Then again, in 1964, Barry Goldwater’s conservatism was up against a relatively strongly positioned Lyndon Johnson. In 1980 Ronald Reagan’s conservatism was running against the not so well positioned, wounded presidency of Jimmy Carter. and in 1988 George H. W. Bush was opposing a weak candidate with a poorly run campaign.  Under the circumstances, President Obama is probably closer to the Carter position than the Johnson position.   Yet President Obama is actually hoping to make the 2012 election a referendum on ideology.

Doing so will take the focus off of his record, which based on its results, will surely lose. So the distraction of ideology is just what the President wants. And he is probably correct in wanting it that way.

While most Americans identify themselves as conservative, they are also compassionate, hence former President George W. Bush’s 2000 campaign introducing himself as a “compassionate conservative”. It is this compassion that President Obama hopes to distract us from his record with and if allowed to do so, he could win. It is for that reason that President Obama will not let the electorate ever forget Rick Perry’s quote to make government inconsequential, if Perry were to be his opponent. President Obama would appreciate the chance to try to paint conservatism as selfish and greedy ideology that is heartless and inconsiderate and therefore not the America we want to live in. He will paint the conservative ideology as the one of and for Wall Street and big business and the liberal ideology as the Party of the people, the Party that has your back.

To be sure, the Democrats will do this under any circumstances. Their appeals to our emotions rather than our logic is the key to their success and it often works. But Rick Perry is confident that the liberal extremism of the Obama Administration has been a lurch so far to the left that it has given the American public ideological whiplash. He is hoping that the extremist activism of the Obama government has highlighted such an abundant degree of liberal thinking that the American people clearly see how antithetical liberalism is to American democratic principles that voters are willing to lurch quickly and sharply to the right in an attempt to take corrective measures that restore balance and gets the nation back on track. That is exactly why in the 2010 midterm elections, Republicans picked up historic gains in the House.

If things keep going in the direction they are, President Obama’s last hope may be a Hail Mary pass to the emotions that tries to distract the American people, but if Rick Perry can keep the electorate’s eye on the ball, he will be able to intercept the ball and it run it back for a touch down.

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