The following article is drawn from principles in my book, Conservatives and the Republican Party (GOP).
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© Original content written by James R. Carlson
In any given political campaign, there are usually 3 groups influencing which candidates are elected to public office – Democrats, Republicans, and the Media. Both major parties gain support from 33% of the American electorate for a total of 67% (2/3rds) of all voters. That leaves roughly 33% (1/3rd) of the voters who are Independent. The Media commands neither the Democrat nor the Republican voting blocs but they identify as independent and consequently influence the Independent vote. It is this influence that has lasting repercussions on elections that may not be good for our country.
To win an election, candidates must earn 50% +1 (a majority) of the vote; however, 33% of the vote from the Party base doesn’t cut it. So candidates must work with the Media to influence the additional votes from Independents that the Media reaches out to. This is the foundation of the Media’s power and their influence in any given political campaign. As a result, this power is used by the Media to influence the outcome of elections in favor of one political perspective or another.
More and more often, the Media moderates debates between candidates on their own news channels. Unfortunately, the Republican Presidential debates have been marred with the Media using the debates as one long news maker interview. The Media may be incompetent, by nature, to facilitate a conversation that doesn’t include their own point of view. The Media should bring candidates together to answer tough questions about issues and let the candidates challenge each other on the topics of concern to us all. The Media instead poses controversial questions between candidates that have nothing to do with the issues we face as a nation for the purpose of generating controversy and sensationalism – two elements of tabloid journalism that has proven to make money. But that is not the only reason the Media stirs up controversy.
It is not hard to understand why a liberal Media welcomes a fight between Republican candidates. The liberal Media bias is satisfied when conservatives attack one another instead of liberal policies. When your political enemy is fighting among themselves, why stop them? Even better, create more hostility. Although Republican candidates have forgotten Reagan’s 11th commandment, it meets with approval to those in the Media who want to undermine conservatives whose values might gain political power if they are elected to public office.
Adding fuel to this fire is Donald Trump whose tactics of negotiation apparently include sensationalism and controversy. The history of the 2015 Republican debates that included Mr. Trump was one long sensational exercise where controversy took center stage and issues did not draw much of the Media’s attention. The debates are not about the Media but about the American people. We need candidates to vet their perspectives publically in debates so we can determine who we will vote for. Unfortunately, the liberal Media has another agenda and Trump has become a useful idiot meeting with their approval with his use of insulting tactics.
One news organization in popular television does not have the liberal media bias – the Fox News Channel (FNC); instead, they have a libertarian Media bias. Unlike President Reagan who was a social conservative/fiscal conservative/defense conservative libertarian, modern Libertarians are social liberal/fiscal conservatives – half liberal and half conservative. Undeniably, FNC carries this sort of libertarian viewpoint and when it comes to the social issues they betray the conservative community with their blatant social liberal views. And their influence definitely has an impact on America’s political culture. FNC is the news channel that supported both the Tea Party movement and Donald Trump. Both political movements have had an equal influence on the American voter.
FNC was an advocate of the Tea Party and the libertarian viewpoint that became the defacto platform of the Tea Party. Glenn Beck was especially vocal in his support of the Tea Party while he hosted a show on FNC. The Tea Party never organized as a real political party, never opened the door to allow voters to join the Party and register their vote, which means they never allowed the People to share in formulating the Tea Party platform. Although social and fiscal conservatives, in the mold of Ronald Reagan, supported the Tea Party at their rallies (including me), social conservative views were dismissed as Tea Party leaders advocated fiscal issues without standing tall for social moral perspectives.
Sarah Palin, a regular on FNC, who recently put her support behind Donald Trump, once complained about the McCain camp who rejected her for her social conservative views; she even wrote a book ‘telling all.’ Yet she did little in sharing social conservative views while working with the Tea Party. What can we read from the Tea leaves when she gives her support to Mr. Trump? Is she supporting a social conservative?
During the heyday of the Tea Party they commanded roughly 1/3rd of the Republican vote. This is the same number of votes that Donald Trump is gathering today with his campaign. Both are the products of the FNC libertarian Media bias but neither are solidly conservative.
For years FNC gave Donald Trump a microphone on their shows before he decided to run for President. I was constantly amazed that he had everything to say about anything but in the end he said nothing at all. His appeal is emotional more than intellectual. People connect with emotion as much or more than they connect with intellect. The Trumpet of self-adoration does not inspire in me a renewal of the American spirit of liberty and conscience that originally made this nation great. The popularity that he has is more the result of his being allowed to dance on the stage of Fox News more than his personal appeal. Like the Tea Party, the libertarian Media bias is in favor of Mr. Trump, less than a complete conservative, hence his popularity.
Many people in the sensational Media (liberal or libertarian) are enamored with Mr. Trump. But do they understand that his numbers are not that great?! Republicans as a voting block represent 1/3rd of all voters in the nation and Trump represents 1/3rd of the Republican Primary voters; that means Trump represents 1/3rd of 1/3rd of the American voters. That is a whopping 11.11% (~10%) of the American voters. That’s not a good start to winning a national election.
Further, one cannot win a Primary with only 33% of the vote. Mr. Trump may curry favor from Independents and Libertarians due to the influence of FNC and the coverage he’s been getting from other news channels. But he has not attracted the intellectual conservative vote within the GOP. For those states whose primaries are winner-take-all, if Trump gets less than a majority of the Republican vote, there will be a runoff election. So for these states, the race to win is the runoff. Trump can win every poll that the popular Media has to share with us but can he win a runoff where intellectual conservatives are not so enamored with his emotional appeal? When the GOP goes to the polls 67% will likely support the conservative candidate who can share their views with intelligence.
For other states that have a proportional selection of delegates, Trump may gather 1/3rd of the popular vote. The number of delegates that will go to the national GOP convention is based upon the proportion of votes earned during the Primary in various states. These delegates will deliver their votes at the national GOP convention and as things stand, Trump may not have a majority of them. The Media is having a hard time getting beyond sensationalism to tell the American People that there are more Republicans not supporting Trump than those that are. No matter what the outcome of each Primary may be, the stage is being set for a convention where the Republican Party in Convention will make the final decision for their candidate for President.
The metric often used by the Media to measure the relative success of campaigns is polling. However, the original use of polls in the Media was to determine the reach of a broadcast TV station into the homes of the surrounding community. They used these polls to determine the influence of their broadcasts upon consumers so they could establish the rates at which they would sell ads to businesses wanting to reach consumers. These polls have been hybridized to show the influence of campaign ads on local voters. The polls of a candidate’s influence on the electorate represent more the reach of that candidate’s message via the agency of the news channel they purchased ads from. Polls are still a metric that demonstrates the influence of the Media upon the voter.
FNC may be surprised to learn that their influence on the Republican Primaries is consistently 33% but let’s do the math. With ~50% of Americans voting in any given election, that is 50% of 300 million people or 150 million people. As FNC influences ~10% of these American voters (1/3rd of 1/3rd), that results in 5% of the American electorate or 15 million voters. That is nothing to sneeze at but 5% of the popular vote in the general election is not critical. What is critical is the libertarian Media bias. Americans may be surprised to learn that FNC influences the Libertarian (Independent) voter with a libertarian Media bias that undermines the conservative message.
The merit (or lack thereof) of a liberal/libertarian Media bias is that it not only has an influence on the outcome on elections but on public policy as well. The values that are presented by candidates may not gather Media favor if they are clearly conservative. When the Media suppresses the conservative voice that candidates like JEB Bush, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, and Chris Christie have in favor of the controversial rhetoric of Donald Trump, they prevent true conservatives from gaining the support of Independent voters as represented by the polls. However, when a clear conservative challenges a clear liberal in an election, the conservative typically wins. Independents who will determine the future of this nation with their vote need to hear more than the Media trumpet of purposeful controversy that reduces the influence of conservative viewpoints.
From another perspective, candidates who want to gather the Independent vote may curry the favor of the Media and trumpet the liberal/libertarian viewpoint. Many candidates gather earned Media in their campaigns by sharing the preferred view point of the Media. In return, the Media receives corporate welfare in the form of news maker interviews (not debates) from elected official that they can use to sell more ads. And with these elected officials, the Media can continue to exercise their influence on public policy. The symbiosis is never ending.
Abortion, homosexuality/marriage, and recreational drug use are on the march but none of the major news organization are advocating a conservative viewpoint on these issues. And as America is going deeper into debt with a $19 trillion deficit, there is little conversation from the liberal Media on reducing tax and spend liberalism. Americans cannot ignore the influence of the Media on political campaigns and the impact they have on public policy.
The outcome of the 2016 elections are predicted by the Media using polls long before the voters go to the Polls on Election Day. From the primaries to the general election, we will see Democrats, Republicans, and the Media vie for attention from the American voter. It remains for the voter to have a heart and mind (convictions) set on conservative social moral and fiscal values if those values will be echoed in the halls of public office. In the end, the merits of the voter at the Poll on Election Day will affect the future of this nation more than the metrics of polling ever could.