Ralph Benko

“The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding. We are swimming in the former. We are desperately lacking in the latter.” -- Malcolm Gladwell, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

The Republican Party’s senior operatives are publicly committing the cardinal sin of promising to spend tens of millions of dollars of its most generous donors’ money to lard up on data: knowledge. What instead, is required -- to restore its ability to make good, winning, decisions -- is virtue: understanding. This critical distinction appears lost on the politicos.

Memo to the GOP donor base: to win (in 2014 and 2016 and beyond) the GOP can and must get just two things just right. First, the GOP must (and can) reunite its libertarian and conservative factions around the Constitution. Second, the party must (and can) use technology to decentralize, not centralize, sending power to the edge.


As this columnist recently noted, the party can and must regenerate the principled operating alliance between its donor base -- the high-dollar libertarian financial elites -- and its popular base -- conservative, very much including social conservative, activists. This requires leadership humility rather than cleverness.

It readily can be done if the GOP rededicates itself to the core American principles contained in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Gettysburg Address. These hold doctrines compelling to libertarians, to conservatives, and to the vast majority of America’s voters, including both independents and Reagan Democrats.

These documents contain America’s political genome. They set forth the requisite “mission statement” for any political party bound for victory: “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” from the Declaration of Independence, the “small r” republican principles and the Bill of Rights commitment to civil liberties from the Constitution, and the populist manifesto “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth” conclusion of the Gettysburg Address.

Ralph Benko

Ralph Benko, author of The Websters’ Dictionary: How to use the Web to transform the world. He serves as an advisor to and editor of the Lehrman Institute's thegoldstandardnow.org and senior advisor to the American Principles Project.

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