There are 14 reasonably serious candidates running for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination — and this impossibly huge list will likely grow by a couple more this summer.
Surely, such a crowded field can support one more single person. Why not you?
What have you got to lose? Your dignity? Your self-respect? Your day job? Perhaps.
But look at this way: There are already going to be at least 13 losers. They are U.S. senators, governors and former governors, billionaires and captains of industry. There’s no shame in having your good name become part of this ash heap of failure.
Besides, you eat losers for breakfast.
And so, fellow American, it’s time for you — yes, you! — to enter the Republican presidential arena and, like another great Republican once said, to know great enthusiasms and great devotions.
If you are concerned, don’t be. With this handy, six-step guide, The Daily Caller is here to help you every step of the way.
Naturally, since you want a job with the federal government, there is a mountain of red tape involved. In short, you’ve got to fill out a slew of forms.
The Federal Election Commission is in charge of the forms. You can find all of them here.
This part is going to be insanely boring, but it’s unavoidable. The best way to approach the slog of forms is probably to purchase a bottle of your favorite distilled spirit. Use it as necessary. Don’t forget to proofread a day or so later, after your hangover clears up.
Once you become president, you can hire a bunch of fresh-faced twentysomethings who majored in political science at fancypants colleges to fill out forms. For reasons only they fully understand, they will tell you they relish this work.
2. Declaring Your Declaration To Declare Your Candidacy
You may have noticed that presidential candidates don’t just announce their candidacies any more. No, no. First there is speculation, then more speculation, then the prospective candidate actually talks about maybe running for president. Then, and only then, is there an official campaign.
Take Hillary Clinton — a prime example of this phenomenon. The speculation about her 2016 presidential run has been ongoing since roughly 2008, when Barack Obama kicked her sorry 2008 candidacy to the curb. Don’t think for a second that such speculation just spontaneously generates. Instead, it’s planted. Clinton and her staffers have been out there, feeding stories about the 67-year-old candidate to journalists. (She also rolled across Iowa in a luxurious black Chevy Express Explorer Limited SE conversion van in some weird pre-announcement campaign swing.)
You may be tempted to view this weird announcement dance as foot-dragging. However, astute political observers call it sophistication. These days, you must proclaim that you could maybe declare some future announcement of your possible candidacy. That’s the first step in the complex ritual. The goal is to get journalists and talking heads worked up in a lather about your Big Decision.
Timing is everything. You can’t reveal your plans too soon because you lose the important momentum which will build to a crescendo as media celebrities anxiously talk about what you might do. You can’t wait too long because other issues — or shark attacks, or the outfit Kim Kardashian is wearing — will crowd you out of the news.
NEXT PAGE: Instant fundraising!
3. Instant Fundraising
After you have proclaimed that you may declare your possible candidacy, you must use the precious window while everyone is talking about you to focus on fundraising.
Raising mounds of cash is the lifeblood of any presidential candidacy. For example, in 2012, Obama raised $1.07 billion for his reelection campaign. That’s roughly equal to the entire annual gross-domestic product of the Solomon Islands. Hillary Clinton has raised $45 million just in the second quarter of 2015.
Obviously, you’ve got your work cut out for you — particularly if you aren’t some rich, sheltered fat cat like Clinton who hobnobs with millionaires and billionaires all the time.
Luckily, TheDC has you covered.
All you need to do is to sign a lucrative product endorsement deal. It’s shocking, really, that no one except you will be using this tactic. Think about it. You will be all over the country, spreading sound fiscal policy, common-sense values and robust good cheer. What huge corporation wouldn’t want to be associated with these things?
In exchange for a very large sum of money from the lucky company which snags your endorsement, you will simple agree to feature the company’s product in your campaign. It won’t be anything tasteless, of course. You aren’t gauche. It will just be a Nike swoosh beside your name, for example. Or maybe you will happily sip from a Coca-Cola can each and every time you give a speech.
Moreover, you need not limit yourself to a single product. Look at the NFL, or the Olympics. Both feature a multitude of sponsorships. Think big here! And think big money!
Is product placement on the campaign trail legal? Well, it’s not necessarily illegal, and the federal government moves at the speed of a three-toed sloth. Sure, your novel strategy may be challenged or criticized by jealous opponents. At the end of the day, though, the likely outcome will be that other politicians will adopt your obviously brilliant fundraising scheme. By then, your poll numbers will be trending upwards and cash will be rolling in. Everyone loves a winner.
4. Kicking Off Your Actual Campaign
The federal government has deigned to allow you to participate in actual representative government. You have titillated the press. You have seeded your campaign with the necessary millions. Now, then, comes time for the big day when you will publicly assert that you are entering the presidential fray.
It’s just a simple statement, really. “I am running for president. I hope you will vote for me.” You will need to say more, of course — lay out themes and the like.
You also need pomp. You need splendor, pageantry and solemnity. Red, white and blue streamers are essential. Don’t forget balloons. You could wheel out some plastic Greek columns, the way Obama once did. Ultimately, you have to leave all those details to the newly-hired marketing minions you have hired with the proceeds from your endorsement deal.
Your most critical goal at this stage is luring members of the media to show up. Sadly, without a throng of journalists — their recording devices, their cameras, their lights, their microphones — your big campaign kickoff will be the equivalent of a rotary club meeting.
You can entice the press to attend in two main ways.
The first way is unique to this year. You can simply promise to answer questions. Unlike, say, Hillary Clinton, who fastidiously ignores journalists and who used a rope line to herd journalists during a parade in New Hampshire on July 4, you can garner sympathetic coverage merely by welcoming the fourth estate with open arms. Be responsive to their questions. State your positons. You do want to be president in a free society, after all.
Secondly, you must understand that reporters love free food and, especially, free top-shelf liquor. You can skimp on the food. Not the liquor! Mainly, just publicize the fact that you will provide “an open bar for journalists with press credentials” at your big campaign announcement gala. Mention craft beers. Journalists of all stripes will show up in droves for the duration of the event. They’ll file glowing reports.
Just make sure you don’t keep the bar open too long, or they will blow their deadlines.
NEXT PAGE: The secret to quasi-messianic positioning
5. Symbolism: The Key To Your Winning Campaign
Yes, of course, the positions you take on various issues are important. (See below.) What’s vital, though, is the way you symbolize yourself — the way you embed yourself in the mind of a typical voter.
Some voters will vote for you or against you because of your position on one issue — gun control, say, or abortion. These voters are called single-issue voters. Good luck with them.
Most voters have only a vague calculus in their heads, though. It’s like a mental abacus which keeps tabs on whether they like you or not. The broad themes you use to position yourself can really affect the way these voters feel about your candidacy, and the way they vote.
Ideally, you want to position yourself as a quasi-messianic, worship-worthy deity who will ride into the White House on a wave of national elation and heal all of America’s problems so everyone can live happily ever after. This strategy worked amazingly for Barack Obama in 2008. (RELATED: Remember When Obama Was The Messiah?)
You may feel like you are unable to accomplish such a feat. You may feel like you would be some kind of fraud if you made such ridiculous promises. But just remember: Obama pulled it off despite the fact that he was a crappy leader with no experience beyond a few years in the U.S. Senate and some community organizing. Just believe in yourself, and your power to control sea levels.
Ultimately, the symbolism you create about yourself must take into consideration all your strengths and weaknesses — your whole history and your whole self. Choose wisely.
TheDC recommends in the strongest possible terms, however, that you don’t present yourself as a senior citizen who refuses to engage with the press and who is making one last, desperate effort to win the presidency for no evident reason other than gaining power. That set of symbols is unlikely to be tenable.
6. Your Stances On The Issues
You should speak about political issues subtly and complexly — with nuance and many traditional aromas, like a fine wine. Very broadly, though, here is a cheat sheet for how you should answer journalists’ questions concerning the issues of the day.
The budget deficit: You hate it. It’s awful. “It’s simple,” you want to say. “We must reduce government to balance the budget.” Go into a spiel about how you have to balance your budget at home, so why shouldn’t the government have to balance its budget? Expect a 9,000-word exposé in The New York Times in response about the mortgage on your home, your student loans, and the Ford Fusion you lease. Also, lease a Ford Fusion.
Energy: One word here: “Fracking.” You love it. You adore it. “Frack! Frack! Frack!” You will obviously anger radical environmentalists, who will then show up at your campaign events dressed as penguins, wolverines and such. These stunts will serve to enhance your popularity immensely.
Environment: You believe America should be a steward of the environment and that Americans are good stewards of the environment. Of course they are. They’re Americans. Find time for photo-ops in national parks with majestic mountains in the background. If you can find a herd of buffalo, that would be great. Just keep your distance. You need some good one-liners about climate change. “Climate change? Yeah, wait 15 minutes in Iowa and the climate sure will change.” Stuff like that, only better.
Abortion: You are strongly against it. This one can be tricky, though, because it’s not like you will get anyone in Congress to touch the issue with a 10-foot pole, anyway. It’s best to shift focus to the Supreme Court. “Roe v. Wade is a terrible decision. Even liberal law professors agree with this fact.”
Drugs: This one is also tricky. Hard drugs are bad, of course. You are against heroin. You oppose crystal meth. At the same time, marijuana legalization and decriminalization are sweeping the country. America’s libertarians are probably coming to your campaign appearances stoned out of their gourds. So hedge. Also, give a reporter an exclusive and discuss some of those times you got high in college — but not all the times, of course.
Education: Still another tricky one. In short, teachers unions are terrible monstrosities but individual teachers are angels doing God’s work for too little pay. Also, college is too expensive and it’s mainly because of administrative bloat.
Civil rights: Every American likes civil rights. “I am in favor of civil rights,” you say. “Why are you asking me this ridiculous question?”
Crime: Crime is bad. “I’m against it. What the hell is wrong with you? We must give the police the tools to do their jobs.”
Healthcare: You hate Obamacare. That’s a given. Say you will work with Congress to draft legislation fixing Obama’s broken healthcare system in the first 99 days of your administration. Why 99 days? Because Bill Clinton already used 100 days, and you are more efficient than Bill Clinton.
Gun control: “Hell, no!”
Jobs: Say you think it’s really stupid when Democrats say government is going to create jobs. “Say, how’d those shovel-ready jobs work out? What happened to those, President Obama?”
Immigration: Republicans tend to be against immigration to varying degrees, so go with that flow. “If Obama can build a fence around the White House, why can’t we build a fence on the border?” you can say. Wait for applause. Wallow in it. Then continue speaking.
Foreign policy: Republicans aren’t very united on foreign policy. One faction wants the United States entangled all over the place. Another faction doesn’t care what other countries do as long as they don’t mess with the United States, because then there will be hell to pay. When in doubt, just rail on Obama’s disastrous foreign policy — in Iraq, in Afghanistan, with Iran, with Russia — everywhere.
Free trade: This one is perhaps the toughest of all. If you can figure out a way to unite Republicans or Americans on free trade, well, you clearly deserve to be president.
Social security: “Mend it, don’t end it!”
Tax reform: “Yes!”
(Note: The inspiration here comes from a 1984 book entitled “YOU Too Can Be a Democratic President For President” by Bruce Jacobsen and Rollin Riggs. It’s long out of print, but it’s an amazingly interesting cultural artifact. You can purchase it used on Amazon at a very fair price.)
(In-story photo credits: public domain, Getty Images/Justin Sullivan, Getty Images/Roberto Machado Noa, Getty Images/Michael Buckner, Getty Images/Emmanuel Dunand, Getty Images)