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The Cool Factor in Presidential Elections: Oliver DeMille

March 25th, 2014 // 2:34 pm @

Choosing a Candidate

I recently wrote:

“Americans elect the ‘cool’ candidate as president in the Entertainment Age. Carter was more cool than Ford, Reagan was cooler than Carter and Mondale, Bush I was cooler than Dukakis but not as cool as Clinton, Clinton was cooler than Dole, Bush II was more cool than Gore and Kerry, and Obama was cooler than McCain and Romney.

“A simple ‘cool’ test (who is more likely to sing, dance, play the saxophone, fuel high school ambitions in the youth, etc.) would have accurately predicted every one of these elections. It’s high school musical at the White House. As for the 2016 presidential election, no potential candidate so far is nearly as ‘cool’ to a majority of the national electorate as Hillary Clinton. Nobody is even close.”

This thought touched a chord with many, and I’ve been asked to elaborate on it. So here goes.

The electorate wants a cool president, but one with at least a little experience in government. If Republicans are going to win the White House in 2016, they need a cool candidate — cooler than Hillary Clinton.

The 2016 Players

There is precedent for things moving quickly in presidential politics. Barack Obama wasn’t even on the national scene until 2005, three years before he won the presidency in 2008. Whoever can beat Clinton in 2016, needs to be elected to high office in 2014 (or before).

Some people think that one of the current Republican Governors or Senators can win in 2016, but no candidate has risen to a level of cool that will compete with Clinton.

Some conservatives try to deal with this by arguing that the electorate should change the way it chooses a president—and I agree—but this isn’t likely.

In current America, the “coolest” candidate will win. To date, the Republicans have nobody really cool in this sense.

By the way, a candidate doesn’t have to be actually cool, just cooler than the opponent. And Hillary Clinton is the standard for 2016. Arne Duncan is a close second for Democratic cool, with Timothy Shriver just behind.

That’s three Democrats that are cooler than any known Republican right now.

To get more specific, in the current electorate, winning the White House means being seen as the most cool candidate by women, Latinos, and independents. Rand Paul, Paul Ryan, and Sarah Palin are considered cool by many independents. Just as many independents like Hillary, however, and she also polls higher with Latinos and women.

Extreme Makeover: White House Edition

Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush are considered cool by many Latinos, but not as cool as Clinton, and Hillary leads among women and independents. Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, and Mitt Romney are behind Clinton in all three of these swing groups.

The entire list of Republican potentials is seen as less cool than Hillary. If Republicans want to have any chance in 2016, either some new face needs to rise in 2014, or a past leader who can project as genuinely cool needs to effectively re-enter the fray.

For example, Scott Brown might be able to pull it off. Condoleezza Rice might compete well with Clinton, if she could get through the Republican primaries (she won’t).

Jon Huntsman might present himself as cool—more dirt bike and less boring policy wonk—but he’d need a public makeover. A lot of those listed above, including Rand Paul, will need such a makeover if they want to compete with Hillary. Ben Carson or any other newcomer would have to act now.

It’s way too early to call a national election, of course, but if Republicans don’t raise up a cool leader in 2014 who can compete for the White House in 2016, the executive election is all but over already.

Since this person hasn’t yet caught the national attention, 2014 is the last chance for them to win an election.

*******************

odemille The Cool Factor in Presidential Elections: Oliver DeMille Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

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Are You Part of TV World (A Different Way to Get the News)

March 21st, 2014 // 12:01 pm @

Where to Look

I keep getting asked what I read to study current events. I actually taught a whole class on this recently—and it’s still available. By taking this class, you’ll get the real scoop on the best current events publications.

In this article, I’ll just share the Cliff’s Notes version. Read Foreign Affairs, the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, and The Economist.

There. That’s it.

Enjoy.

But there is a deeper way to think about this. To begin, there is actually a bit of a problem with the question itself: “What should I read to study current events?” The real answer is, “Everything.” Read a lot. If you’re conservative, read conservative and liberal publications. If you’re liberal, read liberal and conservative periodicals. You can’t study current events from one political view—not if you want to really know what’s happening.

Compare and Contrast

This goes for television and radio as well. When I watch a certain event to see how it is reported in the news, I always see what MSNBC and Fox News both have to say. Then I watch CNN and one of the networks, usually ABC or CBS, for their views as well. Bloomberg Television, C-Span, and PBS news shows often add interesting nuances.

But reading is better than watching. The NY Times and Wall Street Journal are fun to compare. USA Today and various online thought leaders share vital out-of-the-box insights. I could go on and on. Read. Read a lot. Read more.

But that’s only half of the message. The other half is a bit counter-intuitive, but it is still very important.

One of the problems with looking for one or two publications to read is that it limits us to one or two publications. This brings us to the main point: It is a major problem when we only get our news from news outlets.

To really know what’s going on in our world, you have to get beyond the news. Behind the news, under the news. You have to feel what the people are feeling, and dig to get a sense of what is happening in their culture. Their daily lives.

Culture and Events

To do this, I read lots of non-news publications. They are incredibly insightful. I read men’s magazines (like Men’s Health, Esquire, GQ, etc.), women’s magazines (Vanity Fair, More, Good Housekeeping, etc.), variety magazines (Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, Via), cultural magazines (The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, Harper’s, etc.), specialty magazines (Harvard Business Review, Guns and Ammo, Yoga Journal, etc.), science magazines (Psychology Today, Prevention, Popular Science, etc.), and more. These teach as much about current events as any news publication.

For example, I like to go to Barnes and Noble and grab a copy of Yoga Journal, Guns and Ammo, Entertainment Weekly, and Harvard Business Review. Then I read the main articles in each, in one sitting. It’s fascinating. These four publications are written to very different audiences, as you might have gathered, and they use different vocabularies, examples, assumptions, and writing styles. Yet all are quality publications with important articles. Add TV Guide to these four and you’ve got a manual on current America—like it or not.

Together they give the reader a cross-section insight into current events, much more than you could get by concurrently reading a top conservative magazine (say, The Weekly Standard) and liberal periodical (for example, The Nation). The ads in each of these four magazines listed above teach almost as much, sometimes more, than the articles. Reading non-news publications along with news is the key to really understanding current events.

Take off the Rose Glasses

Really. It is important, however, to read them differently than typical readers. Don’t read non-news periodicals looking for literal news. Read them to see what things they talk about that are newsworthy. Read like an anthropologist, looking for interesting trends and groups in modern society that could influence the world.

And think, think deeply, while you read. What does each article say (implicitly as well as explicitly) about our modern society? What trends does it portend? What assumptions does each author make about our current world, and what does this tell you about our culture?

Become a voracious reader. Turn TV World into Thinking World, at least in your own life. Oh, and ask the same kinds of questions when/if you watch television. We live in an Information Age, but we need more people who treat it like a Thinking Age.

*******************

odemille Are You Part of TV World (A Different Way to Get the News) Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

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Category : Blog &Culture &Current Events &Education &Generations &Information Age &Statesmanship

Why Do We Keep Losing the Freedom Battle?

March 20th, 2014 // 3:00 pm @

Two Avenues of Destruction

Why does government keep growing, no matter who we elect, no matter which party is in charge? 20111125 rockwellFreedomSpeech 234x300 Why Do We Keep Losing the Freedom Battle?Why do freedom lovers, those who truly want limited, Constitutional government, continue to lose the battle?

There are two answers. First, the freedom battle loses—year after year, election after election, decade after decade—because it is poorly funded. The political parties are well funded, mind you, but neither party truly stands for freedom. Freedom lovers lose because they are underfunded, pure and simple. More on this below.

Second, those who stand for freedom lose the battle to bigger government because the regular people can’t see what is happening. We don’t see armed troops in jackboots marching daily through our streets, entering our homes, and stealing our property and lives.

When the people can’t see this happening, it’s hard for them to get too excited about it. They don’t know what to fight against. They don’t know who the enemy is. They aren’t sure who to fight, or how to fight them.

The Paper Sword

We don’t realize that Soft Power attacks (certain licensing requirements, regulations, agency policies, commercial codes, revenue bills, statutory changes, executive orders, secret agency procedures, exemptions, ex post facto decisions, and court cases) are as dangerous to freedom as Hard Power attacks (invading armies, armed rebellions, political officials with their own armies, or government use of force against its own people).

In history, the regular people often respond to Hard Power attacks on freedom, but they seldom even notice Soft Power attacks until their freedoms are too far gone to recover.

Citizens of nations almost never realize it when Soft Power is attacking them. The biggest irony of this is that throughout human history Soft Power has taken away more freedom than Hard Power. In fact, Hard Power is seldom used until Soft Power has weakened a nation.

Today, we are witnessing a wholesale reduction of our freedoms—nearly all through Soft Power attacks that few people notice.

To See and Understand

As one insightful friend wrote to me in an email: “We don’t know who or what to fight against. I still believe the majority of Americans value freedom… We, as a culture, do not know how to defend freedom in this new age of information, nor do we know who or what to defend it from. All the average citizen sees—or is supposed to see—is things going a little darker, a little dirtier, a little more crowded, each day. There is, for most Westerners in any case, no force-of-state brutes-in-boots and uniforms…. We see only the results of class stratification and economic divergence…. The most dangerous enemy is the one you can’t see.”

Americans would stand up and vote to get their freedoms back, if only they understand how much they are under attack.

If they could see their freedoms being stolen by Hard Power attacks at the level that they are truly under siege from Soft Power, they’d change things—and fast.

But the regular people don’t see, because Soft Power is used behind-the-scenes, on paper.

How to Win It

This is why only a nation of voracious readers can maintain its freedoms. This brings us back to the first reason freedom is losing: underfunding.

Not only do we need a nation of voracious readers, we need a lot of successful businessmen, professionals, entrepreneurs, and others of means to fund freedom—to fund those things that help the regular people see and understand the impact of Soft Power.

This is the current battle for the future of freedom.
1. Will people of means fund effective responses to Soft Power attacks on our freedom?
2. Enough to win the battle?
3. ill enough regular people take entrepreneurial action and become people of means?

On these three questions turn our future.

Which of these three battles are you helping fight?

*******************

odemille Why Do We Keep Losing the Freedom Battle? Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

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What Russia Is Up To -or- The Election of 2016 Predicted

March 18th, 2014 // 10:04 am @

Understanding Putin

putin romney40 large 300x153 What Russia Is Up To  or  The Election of 2016 PredictedWhen Mitt Romney said during the 2012 presidential campaign that Russia is America’s biggest international foe, President Obama and the entire national security establishment laughed and poked fun at him.

They collectively called his views outdated. Quaint. Out of touch.

Nobody’s laughing today. The experts were wrong. Romney was right. Moreover, he did something that may be the most important trait for a U.S. president to display: he read foreign leaders correctly. Despite the experts, even in the face of widespread ridicule, he understood Putin.

In contrast, President Obama has proven that this is a major weakness of his leadership. Reading Putin wrong is a serious problem. Obama read Putin wrong during the Syria crisis, when deciding whether or not to remove strategic missiles from Eastern Europe, regarding Iran, on harboring Snowden, and most recently during the Crimean emergency.

President Obama warned Putin that there would “be consequences” for Russia if it pursued these power grabs. But so far this has been mostly bluster, hardly any meaningful consequences.

Clearly Putin has read Obama right: a politician, someone who thinks words matter more than might, a head of state who shies away from real conflict, a president who will back down in the face of actual force.

Putin’s policy has been to nod, agree, and make nice when words are at play, then to stay silent and let the politicians debate and posture while the troops march in. He has does this in each of the cases mentioned above.

Putin isn’t a politician, not in the Western sense. He is an old KGB operative, trained and conditioned that physical actions speak louder than words. He is convinced that the Obama Administration will rise to mere words when a debate is needed, but back down from physical force.

Putin is also following the old KGP agenda of reestablishing the Russian empire—one piece at a time. For Putin, it’s two steps forward, one step forward.

Looking the Wrong Way

Meanwhile, the NSA and other agencies under Obama’s watch use massive resources spying on Americans, resources that could be utilized spying on Russia and other true security threats.

The clip of President Obama telling Putin that he’d have more flexibility to work with Russia once he won the 2012 election has been played repeatedly.  Since it was captured on an open mike blunder when Obama didn’t realize he was on the air, it has fueled numerous conspiracy theories.

But few have pointed out perhaps the most interesting part of this clip: the look on Putin’s face.

The operative, the bully, the bad cop, realizing that his biggest foe, the American president, is a talker above all, that he wants to be liked, that his words don’t directly correlate with his action.

That he can be swayed, even shocked, by violence.

That raw physical force is outside his comfort zone.

That he probably won’t pull the trigger unless he can be almost entirely sure that the other guy can’t fight back.

Is this what Putin was thinking?

Whether or not this is actually President Obama’s character, it is clearly how Putin has sized him up.

They’re Not Playing Games

 

The Administration makes war on Fox News, Edward Snowden, Ted Cruz, Bill O’Reilly, anti-Obama Care Republicans, or conservative groups seeking IRS approvals, but Syria, Iran, North Korea, and Putin get to do whatever they want.

Putin has apparently decided that he can operate without any real opposition from the White House. No discussion, no diplomacy, no talk needed, until the power has been wielded.

Afterword, once the troops have done their work, Obama will be only too happy to talk with Putin, to smooth things over, to declare “peace in our time” based on nice words and promises.

For Putin, Obama is Neville Chamberlain, so interested in peaceful words that they can be used after aggression to cover any sin. No need for permission when apologies will suffice.

While the phrase “Putin is playing chess while Obama is playing checkers” makes its rounds inside the Beltway, the truth is a bigger concern:

Putin is playing Stalin and Obama is playing Carter.

What we need from our president in national security is a Truman, a Churchill, a Thatcher, a Reagan—someone that a Khrushchev, Brezhnev, or Putin has no choice but to respect.

Because even though Putin doesn’t bother anymore to care what Obama is doing or thinking, now that he has pegged him as an easy mark, China and Iran are watching. Closely.

How did we get to this point?

High School Politics in Washington

Americans elect the “cool” candidate as president in the Entertainment Age. Carter was cooler than Ford, Reagan was cooler than Carter and Mondale, Bush I was cooler than Dukakis but not as cool as Clinton, Clinton was cooler than Dole, Bush II was cooler than Gore and Kerry, and Obama was cooler than McCain and Romney.

A simple “cool” test (who is more likely to sing, dance, play the saxophone, fuel high school ambitions in the youth, etc.) would have accurately predicted every one of these elections.

It’s High School Musical at the White House.

As for the 2016 presidential election, no potential candidate so far is nearly as “cool” to a majority of the national electorate as Hillary Clinton. Nobody is even close.

The problem is that when it comes to the main Constitutional role of the Chief Executive (keeping the nation safe from foreign aggression), teenage-style “cool” is arguably irrelevant.

The most important trait may well be the ability to effectively size up foreign leaders and project real strength to them. Rahm Emanuel, Mitt Romney, Bill Clinton—Putin would tread more lightly.

But since we are caught in this Entertainment Society where the political parties pick their presidential candidate based on ideology mixed with electability, and then the American voters reject both of these and simply elect the “cool” candidate, maybe the best we can hope for is a president who demands respect—not from the Nobel Prize committee of idealists but from dangerous world leaders like Putin.

Ironically, this is becoming increasingly important as the current Administration drastically cuts the military (and ramps up debt, inflation, and spending on everything else), and as a number of nations become closer in the balance of power to the United States.

More military conflict will certainly happen in the coming two decades. Russia, China and many nations in the Middle East are actively and specifically preparing for this.

The U.S. is doing the opposite—cutting the military and looking for the next Zac Efron as president—hoping that no conflicts come.

But they will.

*******************

odemille What Russia Is Up To  or  The Election of 2016 Predicted Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

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Dictionary Freedom: It’s Fun!

March 17th, 2014 // 11:39 am @

Finding Words

glossary Dictionary Freedom: Its Fun!Let’s go deep. Or really basic, depending on your viewpoint. Socrates is credited with saying that the definition of terms is the beginning of wisdom. Sometimes defining things can be a bit overwhelming, and that’s the case in our topic today. What am I talking about?

Well, I was reading through the compact edition of the Oxford English Thesaurus (a really fun read—try it sometime), and I came to the word “Political.” The list of synonyms was interesting to me: governmental, constitutional, ministerial, parliamentary, diplomatic, legislative, administrative, bureaucratic; party, militant, factional, partisan.

The first time through, I was struck by the number of ways governments can try to control people. But something else was bothering me, in the back of my mind, so I read through the list again to see if I could figure it out. I still wasn’t sure. “Maybe it’s that there’s a strong legislative and also executive focus,” I mused to myself, “but the judicial power of government is left out. As if the judiciary is really not political,” I laughed.

Then I furrowed my brow. “Or maybe it’s that this list is missing so many synonyms,” I thought. I quickly skimmed through the pages and found the word “government,” to see it if added more depth or nuance. It added the following words: executive, regime, authority, directorate, council, cabinet, ministry, regulation, supervision.

“Interesting,” I thought. I had planned to look up each of the synonyms above, one at a time, so I went ahead and turned to the entry for “constitutional.” It added the synonyms statutory, chartered, vested, official, and sanctioned.

Sharing Discoveries

“This isn’t really what was bothering me,” I realized. “It’s not the need for more synonyms. It must be something else.” I wondered what it could be. While I was thinking about this, I reviewed this growing list of synonyms and shook my head. I said aloud, “That’s a lot of government control!”

Then I got it. Somehow, the thing that had been bothering me made it into my consciousness. It was a Eureka! moment. I walked through the house, looking for Rachel or one of the kids to share my new discovery with. Nobody was awake, since it was very late at night, so I opened my laptop and started writing. This is too good not to share, after all.

What was my big epiphany? Simply this: None of the synonyms seem to have anything to do with the people. The word “constitutional” refers to rules written by the people to the government, but most people today don’t realize this. None of the other words were about the people at all, except the word “party,” meaning political parties.

That’s something. I’m not sure what it means, but in our modern language the words “political” and “constitutional” only have one major synonym that includes the people—and that one refers to political parties. Sad.

My question is, “Why?”

Citizens and Leaders

In the time of the American founding, both words held the connotation of actions and choices by the people. Why isn’t “election” or “citizenship” listed as a synonym under either in today’s dictionary? In fact, I turned to these words and found that the synonyms of “citizen” are subject, passport holder, native, resident, denizen.

“Denizen?” That’s an interesting way to view the regular people. In fact, all of these synonyms are passive, none of them are active. None of them present the citizen as a leader, as the true head of the nation.

This is consistent with our modern world, I guess, but it is still wrong. We’ve come to see governments as rulers, and people as subjects. Period. That’s sad.

While I was analyzing this, I realized that something was still bothering me. There was still something tugging at the back of my mind. “What is it?” I asked. I still had my bookmark tucked into the page where the word “political” is found, so I turned back to it and reread the synonyms. Then I noticed something, and everything clicked.

A Sharp Contrast

The word right above “political” is “politic.” Just read this list of synonyms of “politic,” and think about how these relate to politics: wise, prudent, sensible, judicious, canny, sagacious, shrewd, astute, advantageous, beneficial, profitable.

What do any of these have to do with the political world? I mean, they should be connected. They really should. But they hardly ever are.

“Wow!” I said aloud. “This is really interesting. I love reading the dictionary.” Just compare these two lists:

Synonyms of “Political”

governmental

ministerial

parliamentary

diplomatic

legislative

administrative

bureaucratic

party

factional

partisan

Synonyms of “Politic”
wise
prudent
sensible
judicious
canny
shrewd
astute
advantageous
beneficial
profitable

Does anyone else see the irony? Bureaucratic paired with Astute? Partisan with Profitable? Really? Governmental paired with Wise? It’s like a Mark Twain Guide to Preparing for the S.A.T.s.

And yes, both words, “political” and “politic”, come from the same root word, the Greek politikos, meaning “statesman,” “leader of the city,” or in modern terms, “leader of the nation.”

Decline is real.

Let’s read more dictionaries.

 

*******************

odemille Dictionary Freedom: Its Fun! Oliver DeMille is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling co-author of LeaderShift: A Call for Americans to Finally Stand Up and Lead, the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd.

Among many other works, he is the author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through leadership education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.

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