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Better candidates bring better results

Other Editors

Every midterm election has important takeaways for both parties. In this past midterm election, like many before it, the party in power lost some ground in the House of Representatives. However, it was certainly not near the “red wave” that was expected.

Commenting on this, the former Republican governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, made a simple statement: “If you run bad candidates, you will get bad results.”

Christie’s comments were about the viability of the candidates, including their experience and their message. He was lamenting the “celebrity culture” approach that seemed to fall flat for the GOP in this past election. Running people with big names or whose main qualification was that they were endorsed by a big name simply did not connect with the American people. Those whose celebrity status, celebrity endorsements or controversial opinions connected enough with regional or local voters to win a primary quickly found out that in a general election the message fell flat due to a lack of deeper substance.

This is not just a GOP problem. Both Democrats and Republicans lost races that could have been slam dunks if the focus were more on relevant messages that connected with the broader needs of constituents. As two well-known currently serving GOP senators remarked, “We have to stop running with the message that we are ‘not Democrats,’ and start running again with the message of what it means to be a conservative.”

This seems to be how democracy works best and how candidates win elections over the long run: an honest, relevant and authentic message of what he or she stands for instead of simply focusing on quick sound bytes and “gotcha” politics. The latter approach can win some elections in certain places and at certain times. However, no “waves” — red or blue — tend to follow.

Also, while it is exciting to vote for the “outsider” and while there are times that outside voices are needed to break up a monotonous status quo, times of crisis call for people who are steady and experienced, and the last few years seem to be such times.

No candidate is perfect. However, riding the wave of celebrity will not lead to consistent wins when it counts. Both parties are finding that out, and one party found it out the hard way.

— St. Joseph (Missouri) News-Press

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