How Joe Scarborough Can Become President

This story originally appeared on Medium.

In order to win a national election in this country, you have to have a few things going in your favor. First, you must have an electable persona. It sounds cliche but it is true in today’s media-driven world. Look at candidates like Mitt Romney and Al Gore; super-smart guys who were personally flawed. Second, you must have the right message at the right time. Look no further than Barack Obama’s 2008 Hope/Change campaign theme. Third, you have to have a bit of good fortune. Bill Clinton was able to latch onto the “read my lips” gaffe from then-President George H. W. Bush to beat a wartime president, an almost unheard of feat in American politics. Finally, sometimes you just have to be good.

As a politico, I have been reviewing the 2016 field and I have an announcement to make. After campaigning for Gov. Jon Huntsman in 2012 for the Oval Office, I have found my “horse” for 2016: former Congressman and MSNBC star, Joe Scarborough. You might only know him as MSNBC’s Morning Joe, but I know him as a leader, a thinker, a strategist, and a bipartisan problem-solver.

Sure, Scarborough isn’t as sexy as Senators Ted Cruz orMarco Rubio or have the largess of Governor Chris Christie and hasn’t held elected office since 2001 after resigning to spend more time with his family and brushed aside calls from his Floridian friends to run again for various offices over the past 13 years. But that doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is what you bring to the table today.

So why, after six years of Barack Obama — who began his presidency with a 67 percent approval rating and who now sits around a 40 percent approval —  would a man who has a hit cable television program toss that aside for a far-fetched long-shot run at the Oval Office; a room that then-candidate George W. Bush said “turns pride into prayer”?

Because he can win.

In 2008, after eight years of the Bush presidency, America was searching for a change in politics. But that did not stop WASPs (White Anglo Saxon Protestants) from playing a huge role in the Republican nominating process. For the record, I am a WASP … but I don’t attend their parties.

In the 2008 Republican primaries, we saw that those who labeled themselves as “very conservative” came out in droves to support Mike Huckabee while independent voters showed loyalty to those who remained loyal to free-thinking ideas (see: McCain). Those two facts are not a surprise.

But this quote from Sen. McCain rings true to who Congressman Scarborough is as a thinker and a politician: “We share the common principles and values and ideas for the future of this country based on a fundamental conservative political philosophy, which has been my record.” Finally, on election day the national voter registration was 40 percent Republican to 51 percent Democrat. That was in 2008 when there was a historic wave in favor of massive change and McCain didn’t stand a chance.

Over four years and a massive legislative victory with the Affordable Care Act, the political landscape continued to change in favor of independent minds; even as WASPs were growing in power within the GOP.

What happened in 2012 with the GOP is likely to happen again in 2016: no single candidate is the early front-runner. For instance, in Iowa, my home state, the die-hard Evangelicals came out in force for Sen. Rick Santorum in President Obama’s re-election year, propelling him to a surprising victory. The challenge for the GOP then, as it is now, remains those three factors of electability, message, and good fortune. Sen. Santorum in Iowa had the right message and good fortune that Iowa is a fairly religious state. But that does not translate well the further East candidates go.

Iowa Caucus entrance data showed that for voters, when experience in government was important, votes went to Santorum. If business was important, you voted for Romney. 76 percent said the budget and economy were the most important issues and 54 percent called themselves somewhat conservative or moderate.

Put that together with what was learned in South Carolina that year and you can begin to see how a Scarborough candidacy could pan out. The South Carolina voters wanted an established candidate and split 54-44 for Gov. Romney in the general election, and sent their primary delegates to former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and Romney. While only 54 percent in Iowa called themselves somewhat conservative or moderate, 64 percent claimed that label in South Carolina. Therefore, what a candidate needs to have is government experience with a focus on business and the economy.

On election day 2012, national voter registration was 42 percent Republican and 50 percent Democrat, a swing of 3 percent from just four years earlier. One last statistic to keep in mind, Iowa reports their voter registration to be 33 percent Republican, 33 percent Democrat, and 34 percent Independent.

The thing about all of these numbers is that they have continued to evolve. The latest Gallop poll about party identification says that Independents are more important than ever, making up 42 percent of the electorate. (Democrats make up 31 and Republicans 25 percent). Couple that with the “Yes she’s running,” and “No she’s not running,” rumors about Hillary Clinton and there is a perfect storm for someone with big, mainstram ideas to jump into the battle for the presidency.

The challenge Scarborough will face — aside from his name recognition problem — is that while he was a Congressman, he supported and sponsored some pieces of legislation that don’t have popular support in today’s America.

For instance he advocated the elimination of the federal Department of Education in the 1996 House Budget. He was also staunchly pro-life, supported U.S. withdrawal from the United Nations, and was against raising the minimum wage from $5.15 in 1996. Of course, anyone can change over the course of 13 years and he will have to answer to these if in fact he decides to run.

But he can run. And he can win.

In his book, The Last Best Hope, he wrote, “We cannot claim the constitutional high ground in our efforts to fight the nationalization of health care and finance while demanding that Washington become entangled in gay marriage debates and OB-GYN issues.” Perhaps he is a conservative for the 21st Century.

He has the unique ability to listen and compromise to find real solutions. That’s what we need in an American leader and with Independent voices clamoring for real change, perhaps it is him they seek.

Newsletter: Work Together

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As I write this, the government in the United States is still shut down. And let me be clear: I don’t care if you blame Republicans, Democrats, the Tea Party, or the President;  they are all failing us.

When elected, these 536 people are sworn to work for the American people and time and time again, it comes as though you and I don’t matter. They live and work in their own world and this time around they don’t seem to understand that both sides are to blame.

But I don’t care about that.

Business (and government) are all about working together. Just last week, stories were abound about the reasons behind BlackBerry’s demise. I’ll summarize it for you: bad leadership who began to fight each other. They couldn’t decide what was best, so they just didn’t decide … and we all know how that has worked out for them.

In the case of the government, all three parties are to blame.

Republican-led House: They wouldn’t take their hatred of ObamaCare off the table.
Democrat-led Senate: They wouldn’t create a conference at the last minute to negotiate.
President: Said he won’t negotiate no matter what.

Everyone looks bad and there is no leadership. It is a war of words and words are not actions.

And the lesson for you?

Life and business is about working together. It’s about burying the hatchets of the past and leading forward.

A quote to end this lesson: “Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way. — General George Patton”

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Standing Together for Leadership

On Monday night, two Democratic members of Congress voted with the GOP on their bill to avoid a government shutdown. They are the democratic congressman Sean Patrick Maloney from New York and Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona.

They both voted Aye on H.J. RES 59, which stated that the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act would be postponed for one year, member’s of Congress would join the exchanges, and the rest of the budget would be passed through December 13, 2013.

The bill passed at 8:40 pm Eastern providing the Senate with over three  to take action. They nearly immediately said no. They wanted a clean bill and nothing less.

But here is the problem. These two democrats who had the “audacity” to join the “opposition” at a critical moment are being chastised by the press, the gay press, for abandoning all sense of judgement and loyalty.

Now, it must be said that both of those members identify with the LGBTQ community.

John Aravosis, who’s gay and editor of AMERICAblog, also had harsh words for the two lawmakers, who ran as out of the closet candidates and took donations from the LGBT community.

“I think it’s abominable. No Democrat, let alone a gay or bisexual one, should be working to undercut health care protections for Americans, let alone helping John Boehner do anything,” Aravosis said.

Renowned and respected columnist and commentator Michaelangelo Signorile tweeted:

“Gay ConservaDems took $$ from progressives, Sinema and Maloney, voted #shutdown. Make sure they meet fate of Christine Quinn” (source)

That is all the proof I needed that the entrenched gay liberal establishment will never support someone having an opinion outside of their closed club. They will never understand how I can call myself a gay conservative.

And don’t get me wrong. I believe that the way the House-leadership has handled this process has been wrong and ill-conceived. The former leader of the GOP has some words that Speaker Boehner should listen to today:

Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events.

The words of President Lincoln in his famous Cooper Union speech.

When I tweeted Aravosis about my disappointment in the LGBT presses response to these two congressional leaders, this is the response I got:

You help elect someone so they’ll follow YOUR beliefs. (source)

You are the only person in sane America who thinks voting with Boehner on the shutdown is honorable. (source)

Two comments back to Mr. Aravosis:

First, you elect someone because you believe in their beliefs and trust their judgement … not because they will follow your beliefs. These two leaders voted on what they believed to be right given the facts and it may very-well cost them their jobs, and that is honorable.

Secondly, I am not the only sane person who thinks making changes to the law are honorable. It is not how I would have gone about it, but that is beside the point.

Calling out these two votes is cynical and does nothing but fuel a city already drenched in kerosene and cloaked in hate and fear. The name calling, threats, and special-interest claims to votes must end now. Because now, who are the bullies?

Be Not Afraid

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In life, there are very few things that we have the ability, the opportunity, and the pre-knowledge to stop. Life happens.

Just the other day I got rained on here in the city. It happens. Did it affect my mood? Sure! But only for a time. I kept my focus on the fact that I would be seeing an old friend later that day.

That is the power we can have over our own minds. But sadly and some might say consequently, we don’t exercise it nearly enough. We let the fear of the unknown and sometimes probable event, impact our enjoyment of the moment.

In fact, just the other morning a friend of mine couldn’t sleep because they were working their mind into a frenzy about a terrific job opportunity. They have spent nearly a decade out on their own and this new corporate position would take everything they have learned and studied and roll it into one fantastic position. But he’s nervous about the move. He nervous if he will be good enough. He is so nervous about the decision that he can’t sleep. And this is a guy who studies this for a living!

His experience is a simple case of letting something outside of your control impact your health. In fact, 45% of people in a study in the UK said that fear and worry had negatively impacted their health. Now I can see how that is possible.

I am also not immune to this epidemic. I think back to Thanksgiving 2006 and realize I was not able to enjoy a family vacation because of worry. Earlier that fall I had met Senator John McCain at an event and decided I wanted to work for him and his presidential campaign.

I interviewed for a position on his Iowa staff and shortly before the holiday, was offered the position. I took off with my family for the Colorado mountains where I was unable to relax. I called my current boss and discussed my future at the company with her and called my closest friends and advisers for their input. I prayed. I made a pro/con list.

Through it all, I was worried about the following issues:

  • What if he loses? What do I do then?
  • What if he wins? Will I get a job in the White House or be unemployed?
  • What about the life I am building?

When I made the call shortly after returning home, I reluctantly declined the McCain offer. Don’t get me wrong, it was the chance of a lifetime, but it was not the right time in my life to take that leap. But I worried so much about the future that I did not look at the present. I didn’t look at the true questions at hand and instead, let fear and worry of the unknown control the decision-making process.

I worried so much that I did not enjoy the trip with my family. I worried so much that I was unwilling to fail. I worried so much that I ruined my vacation.

Fear is within your control.

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Be ‘American’ Exceptional

Richard Dedor for MayorIt’s Election Day here in the United States and I thought this would be the perfect time to say that we as a people are exceptional. Sure, there is always room for improvement (that’s for another post), but we are exceptional.

Do I think we are the greatest nation on Earth? Irrelevant.

I do know that we create great things like medicine and cures, great technology, great writers and artists and have lead the world in times of need.

But we have fallen. Our greed has hindered our own ability to help ourselves, and as a result, the world. This isn’t a post about posting blame. It is a post about reclaiming who we are. No matter who wins tonight in your local race, your governor’s race, or the race for the White House, we are all Americans and it is on that point we must all come together.

We are exceptional. We can create great things. We can lead the world in medicine, in technology, in creativity and in our own economy. The work starts now.

I Am a Proud Conservative

I don’t talk about politics a lot here on my blog. Mostly out of choice that when I talk politics, I want it to be issue based, not emotional and if I’m sitting down to write about politics, it usually means I’m emotional about it. It has happened before with flip-flopping, social security and other issues as well.

But here is the thing: I am a conservative. I’m not registered with any party. Why? A few reasons.

  • I am not a Republican (as it is defined in today’s world).
  • I am not a Democrat.
  • I am not a Libertarian.
  • I am not a Tea Partier (even if I do love tea any day of the week).

I say it again, I am a proud conservative. Without getting into policy and alienating my readers, I believe in small government. I believe a government should do a few things really well. I mean, REALLY well.

Take Facebook for instance. They helped us build (and in some cases, re-build) our networks. The world is social and Mark Zuckerberg knew that and created a platform for us to be more social. They do that really well. Selling advertising and games, they aren’t the best.

The same goes for Microsoft. They made a great video gaming system. But they made a horrible music player.

That’s how I view government. I believe they should focus on defense, education, environment and perhaps even throw in health. Of course, we would still have the interior and the commerce and veteran’s affairs departments. But in my opinion, we don’t need many arms of government programs.

I am a staunch believer in radical reform of Social Security. Why? First of all, in it’s current form, it will not work for me. Secondly, it is a levied tax not used for government operations. It is a mandated retirement plan that I have no control over. Legal or not, I want control over my future. To me, in my conservative viewpoint, is going to be forced to put money in, I should have a say as to what happens to it.

My point in writing this political post, even though a part of me says I shouldn’t, is that I am a conservative. I don’t want labels on me or anyone, because they box us in. Signing pledges and saying you will “never raise taxes” or “never privatize social security” puts you in a no-win box.

I stand on issues, not rhetoric. And we’re going to hear a lot of rhetoric in the coming weeks. Don’t listen to it. Do your own research and be who you are.