I stirred up some controversy among some of my readers during the last election in an article where I stated that things like ideology, political philosophy, and morality, should not be the focus of a political campaign. Many in the political arena believe that's exactly where it belongs.

As we approach a new election year, let me give you my reasons for this conclusion: Politics is the last link in the chain of philosophy. Before you can have a political philosophy you must understand the nature of reality and its objectivity (metaphysics); The nature of Man, and how one can verify one's views (epistemology); whether they are right or wrong (ethics); and only then can you determine which laws would be appropriate in establishing a political system and which laws would be good or bad. A good political philosophy is one consistent with man’s nature. The American Constitution was based on such a political philosophy.

By the time we reach the election process, we've already established the philosophical and political differences between the parties and the candidates, and most of the electorate has already decided which candidate most reflects their own personal philosophy. Any attempt to fight a battle over philosophy and morality at that point, would be superfluous and mostly a waste of time. All that is left to be fought over in an election are the political and economic specifics of proposed policies, the priorities of the candidates, and the character of the men and women who are running. There should be no need for them to restate their convictions unless asked. And even then the response should be short and to the point, not a doctrine and not a discourse.

Where it would be perfectly appropriate for intellectuals like professors, theologians, and economists to argue at length the finer points of the issues of the day based on their various views of philosophy and morality, it would not be appropriate for a political candidate. That would be like demanding that a candidate for CEO of a company explain his religious convictions.

The job of someone running for Congress or the Presidency is to show his ability, his character, his judgment, and his leadership skills.  He needs to show a grasp of foreign policy and defense issues, economics, and judicial law. His political philosophy will be obvious in a campaign and implicit in the policies he supports. His past history and reputation will have already demonstrated who he is and what he stands for. What is not always obvious though, is how one holds up under intense scrutiny, pressure, and emergencies. After all, his first duty is to be Commander-In-Chief.

During the 2012 campaign, Romney's advisers urged him to give a vigorous moral defense of capitalism and to delineate his specific proposals if he were President. Romney complied with a 49 point proposal -- and still it was not enough and did nothing to help his election.  He lost.  Obama on the other hand simply ran on "hope and change" and the promise to "transform" America from "the failed policies of the past' to an America we can all be proud of. He won.

Specifics lost to abstractions.

I will say again what I've said in the past election and in past articles: to win the Senate and the Presidency in the years ahead, the Republicans need to keep it simple. The Agenda of all limited government candidates should be summed up in a word.  That word is "freedom". We, who are for freedom, fiscal responsibility, and self-reliance, must push that particular agenda. And we only need to point out that the opposition wants to move away from such ideals. This sets up the freedom-versus-government control debate – and in that debate the controllers will lose.

Americans are made up of mostly immigrants escaping a heavy-handed government.  The people here will always respond to the ideals America represents – freedom and individuality. Ronald Reagan appealed to that quality in all Americans and won in a landslide. It will be so again. People are for taxes only when they are imposed on someone else.  People are for controls only when they control others. And people only tolerate regulations when they themselves are not over regulated. The Agenda must be to offer freedom instead of controls to people, and to frame the argument in a way that hits home to all freedom loving people.

Like I said, we are a nation of immigrants, maybe not us specifically, but our families. We are Spanish, Asian, European, and everything else. Our families were bold. They chose to pull up roots, and came here to build a better life. They weren’t satisfied with the mediocrity and the oppressive forces that held them back in their own countries. They were heroes in their own right for taking that step – that risk. That kind of character is at the root of Americans, passed on from generation to generation. It is a common culture we all share.

Americans are hero worshipers. They see their parents as heroes, and they see their country as the best of all countries. You can see it in the TV shows they watch:  American Idol, Survivor, the award shows that draw top ratings, only exceeded by the sports events that draw millions that cheer on the best of the best. The fact that some movie stars make 50 million dollars a movie, doesn’t cause people to protest them and show up on their lawns with anti-wealth signs. No. They tune in to see if their favorites will win an Academy Award, an Emmy, a Grammy, or a “People’s Choice” Award.

Do people jeer and boo the best quarterback, or boycott the Super Bowl because the two teams are more successful than others? Do they penalize or look down on the team that wins? No, they flock to see their hero's perform. Super Bowl Sunday has become the people’s day to celebrate greatness, winning, and ability. We even celebrate the best commercials. (How capitalistic!) Do people throw things at famous musicians and singers on stage? Not in America. They scream with delight at their performances. They idolize them. And they willingly pay these millionaires big money to see them perform. From the Olympics to "The Voice", millions of Americans tune in to see the best of us strive to be even better.

One thing almost all Americans have in common is their love of success and their disdain for losing. We Americans idolize the successful, the talented, and the fittest. This nation awards achievement without envy. No one thinks about the fact that their favorite star, or sports figure, or singer, is in the 1% income bracket. That is for the truly envious in this country, and they are the exception not the rule. The protesters against success and ability are the misfits in this country, they are the real losers --and not because someone has done something better than them or has more money than them, but because they can’t handle the fact of success and failure. They aim to eliminate such distinctions in favor of "equality".

It is up to us, the intellectuals who care about such things, and who want to fight the battle of freedom, to explain what freedom is and why it works. It is up to us to point out in Op Ed letters to the editor, e-mails to friends and relatives, and conversations with others the morality of moving toward more freedom and independence and our vigorous opposition to moving away from these virtues and toward less freedom and greater dependence. Politicians are our means to that end. They are not our intellectual leaders, they are the intellectual’s followers.

Ronald Reagan was called "The Great Communicator" as he gave speeches and won over audiences. I disagree. I've heard much better oratory from others. What Reagan had was the ability to express the ideals and virtues of what America stood for and do it simply and sincerely and in just a line or two. We as voters learned to trust Reagan, because behind the words we found a man with the character and intelligence to back such words up.

This is not true today under the rule of Barack Obama. Behind the beautiful words of "Hope and Change" which were meant to transform America into a better nation than ever before, we find a nation of stagnation and demoralization, confusion and uncertainty. All of the things that were said to be virtues such as self-sacrifice, equality, and fairness, have led us to this grey world we live in today. One of the most popular Presidents to be elected has now turned into one of the least popular Presidents in history. Americans don’t look kindly on failure and mediocrity. They like to win and excel.

As the people who care about freedom and responsibility, we need to promote these ideals in any way we can, not push it onto our political leaders to do so. The first line in the defense of liberty comes from the ideas and deeds of the people of this nation, not from politicians. The best we can hope for from politicians is that they will diminish the intrusion of government and promote the defense of life and property. The worst we can expect from politicians is if they do exactly the opposite.

The agenda that will win elections in the future is to appeal to every person that is a citizen of this country, that we must honor our tradition of “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. Independence and pride is what this nation is all about.

Our agenda to win the hearts and minds of the vast number of good people of this nation must be to communicate the simple idea of freedom within the political arena. No more 49 point plans. No more pandering to the needs of special interest groups. And no more programs that would impose one group’s morality on another group.

Just one program is all that's needed: an agenda that promotes freedom.

Let the election season begin!

Paul Nathan