By Frank Hill
|Chris Henick-Blueprint Advisors|
We recently had our good friend and political strategist extraordinaire Chris Henick of Blueprint Advisors, LLC in Washington DC come down to North Carolina to lecture in a series of classes for budding citizen-politicians at The Institute for the Public Trust we have set up to help change things in the public sector.
As in: 'With better people. Better candidates. More thoughtful legislators once elected. You know, like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison long, long ago.'
When was the last time you sat up straight in your chair after watching a Congressman or US Senator give a speech or an interview and said the following words: 'Oh my God! That person reminds me of Henry Clay or Daniel Webster with their oratorical skills!' or 'They remind me of Abraham Lincoln for his/her simply amazing leadership qualities!'
Hence, the reason for The Institute. To bring people such as Chris Henick in to train what we hope will be the next generation of true citizen-politicians who will run for political office across this state and nation and help save the republic with reasoned, seasoned civil discourse and compromise from all political perspectives on a non-partisan basis.
One thing Henick talked about really stopped us in our tracks. He places a heavy emphasis on the critical importance of candidates and politicians speaking in the 'future tense'.
Think about it. Despite all the problems we face today from the budget deficits that threaten to suffocate our economic prosperity; foreign terrorist attacks on our embassies such as in Libya and extended economic suffering due to hardly any real economic growth, voters really don't want to hear a litany of 'excuses' or reasons about how, what, when, and why we got here in the first place, do they?
That would be like a bunch of people being stuck at the bottom of a canyon with no way out except to climb up and out on each other's shoulders...and no one is working together because they are bitching and fighting too much to shut up and do something about their circumstances.
Did you ever play for a coach who just yelled at you all the time for the terrible games you played for the past season? 'What about the next game, coach? Why don't you spend your time, effort and hot air telling us how we are going to finally win a game instead of harping on all our losses?'
Ronald Reagan was far more pointed than Mitt Romney versus Barack Obama in his criticisms of then-President Jimmy Carter in 1980 about all of the failures of his domestic economic and foreign policies. In the debates, Reagan took full aim at Carter head-to-head, you can look it up.
The genius of Ronald Reagan was his ability to turn quickly from a brief description of the problems we faced to a brief preview of the wonders of America he could see unfolding if his policies were passed and adopted for the next 4, and then 8 years. The 'Morning in America' ad remains at the top of the Pantheon of great political commercials of all time for its ability to pull American people together under the banner of hope for the future.
Bill Clinton ran on the fact that he was from Hope, Arkansas, of all places a presidential candidate could run from. He spouted an optimistic view of the future by adopting Fleetwood Mac's 'Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow!' as his official campaign song to be played whenever he stepped on-stage.
With that in mind, here is a somewhat idealistic but genuine 'hope' we think many Americans want to see our next President, Congress, and Senate adopt as a tone of hope for the future, as Mr. Henick emphasizes so clearly. We also put forth some ideas as a basis for actual practice as they consider legislation starting as early as 1:30 pm on January 20, 2013 right after the inaugural speech is concluded, quite simply because nibbling at the edges won't solve the problems we face now and for the immediate future:
'My Fellow Americans:
We have been through a very difficult time these past several years. It almost doesn't make any difference who did what to get us here because we are all 'here' in the now and present, aren't we?
Let's think together about what a wonderful place the United States of America really is in the first place. We could all be living in some other nation under some other form of government. We have the freedom to move there if we so choose.
We choose to stay here. In America. For a reason. For many reasons.
We Americans have always met the great challenges before us and overcome them. Our parents, grandparents, great-parents, the immigrants who came to this country to seek a better life for you and your family....they all came here for the same reason: to live and work in our nation of freedom and opportunity for everyone.
We should all take a step back and take a look at what we want America to be as if we are starting this nation all over once again under the freedoms and constraints of the Constitution our Founders miraculously formulated and gave to us to defend and cherish.
We all want and need the very best and strongest national defense and military to protect us so we can enjoy our God-given freedoms, whether you believe in God or not. We will provide the most technologically advanced weapons and warfighter the world has ever known and we can and will do it in the most cost-effective manner possible. No more funding of antiquated defense equipment or programs to keep constituents employed in the home district or state of some powerful committee chairman. Only those programs that clearly protect and defend our nation and national interests will be funded going forward.
Think on this for a second: Despite some objections to the contrary, the United States of America over our entire history has helped free hundreds of millions more people from tyranny and oppression than any other empire, republic, monarchy or dictatorship in the history of the world.
We have made some mistakes and have some blemishes, to be sure. However, when the United States commits troops and resources to free a nation from oppression or invasion, we help them win the war and then typically get out and come home whereas the Romans, Soviets, Japanese, Chinese and even the British remained to control and dictate the future of their newly subjugated nations.
Without the exportation of Jeffersonian/Madisonian democratic republicanism across the globe over the past 75 years, this world would be a far more dangerous and desultory place than it is even today. Imagine the brutal Stalinist Soviet Union still in place, Adolf Hitler's Third Reich still controlling most of Europe or the pre-World War II Japanese Empire dominating Southeast Asia.
It would be a world totally unlike the world of today since the ascendancy of the American Republic. And one that most of us would not like living in.
We all want to see how the American Experiment can allow each and every person the chance to find their passion and use their talents to the utmost so they can pursue their own American Dream, not anyone else's.
We all want to live in an America where dynamic creative ideas lead to new products and services that lift up the lives of every US citizen, young and old.
Think about this: even our fellow citizens who live in what we call poverty in the United States lives a life that perhaps 90% of the world's population would envy in terms of having access to clean air, clean water, medical facilities and even IPhones and Air Jordans.
Are you kidding me? Do you really think there is another place on Planet Earth where poor school-lunch eligible kids (such as the ones I used to coach in Annandale,Virginia) have Xboxes at home?
For those of our fellow citizens who need some help and assistance along life's journey (and who among all of us didn't need some help over these past 4 years!), we propose to have a social safety net that is there when you need it because we think government at some level has a responsibility to help those who can't help themselves when other charity and good-intentions fall short.
But we also have to be fiscally conservative and financially prudent as a nation or else we won't be able to afford to help anyone anywhere anymore. Having a heart and being socially conscious and having a brain and being fiscally responsible 'are not mutually exclusive' (as one of our former students has said)
We think the American economy right now is just aching to be released into a hurricane of activity that will quickly solve our unemployment dilemma and all the attendant problems as well, not the least of which is our budget deficit/national debt crisis.
We just have to let it do so.
We can see a future of below 4% unemployment, low inflation and maximum opportunity when Congress and the White House works together to do the following:
1) Replace the sclerotic income and payroll tax-based systems across this nation with one simple consumption tax at point of purchase. Long-gone will be economic decisions made with any income tax consideration or calculation; all economic and investment decisions will be made on the basic of economic merit and intrinsic value.
2) Reform and ultimately replace every 'entitlement' program with an 'enrichment' policy. Every person gets to put the same amount of money now taken from them every week to fund the current bankrupt Social Security and Medicare systems into a new personalized account to build asset values for their own personal future retirement needs. If they pass on before using all of their set-aside funds for these purposes, the remainder would be available as an inheritance to their children, unlike anything in the current US social safety net system.
3) Balance the federal budget so that no one even knows who or what the Fed is and QE3 never enters the American lexicon again. Taking responsibility for managing our current fiscal problems is the most important thing we can pass on to our children and our children's children.
These 3 things, along with a general lifting of the American mood after years of fighting and bickering and non-bipartisan leadership and compromise, will illuminate the path of this nation going forward unlike anything we have ever seen break forth on the American horizon in decades. Civility, rational discourse and reasoned deal-making will be the hallmark of the next 4 years in Washington. So help us God.
Our best days are before us. Not behind us. We just need new smart leaders to lead us down this road. If you are one of them, join us.See? Don't you feel better already following Mr. Henick's sage advice? Even if you don't agree with any or all of the recommendations above, you at least know that there can be a bright future out there if someone would just talk about it.
Contact Chris Henick at Blueprint Advisors if you need some strategic thinking and coaching not only in the political world but in the business world as well. He knows what he is talking about.
(Editor's Note: Frank Hill's resumé includes working as chief of staff for Senator Elizabeth Dole and Congressman Alex McMillan, serving on the House Budget Committee and serving on the Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform. He takes on politics from a fiercely independent perspective at the blog Telemachus).