Thursday, May 25, 2006

Dana Kelley on "The Holt Phenomenon"

EXCERPTS FROM The Holt phenomenon
by Dana Kelley
Appeared in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette May 19, 06 (som
Reprinted by Permission of author

Here Kelley deals with the question of why an "extemeist" like Holt keeps getting validated at the polls over candidates who are alledgedly more "mainstreamm".

..So the question being begged here is: How do you explain the paradox ? If the press, mainstream and liberal, is doing everything it can to negate Holt’s appeal, where does it come from ? Here are a few possible answers.

First of all, by going so far overboard on Holt so often, editorialists and op-ed writers have probably helped his cause. Any good salesman will tell you it’s always better to underpromise and overdeliver. Too many times, a candidate is oversold in the media, and when voters actually get to meet him or her, it’s an underwhelming experience.

The exact opposite happens with Holt, whom I’ve met only one time. But once was enough for me to be surprised at the gap between all I’d read about him and what I actually encountered. Holt had been undersold. He didn’t have horns. In fact, he seemed a lot like a lot of other people I know. I’m sure the same dynamic plays out over and over again as he meets and speaks with others.

It’s always nice to exceed a negative expectation, but that alone can’t explain a 45-point lead over credible opponents.

(continued- click THURSDAY below and scroll down)

3 Comments:

Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Authenticity is a resonating market force today, and Holt seems very genuine and sincere. But he certainly doesn’t have any sort of lock on personal integrity or being a nice guy. I am personally acquainted with two of the Democratic primary candidates, state Sen. Tim Wooldridge in the lieutenant governor race and state Rep. Dustin McDaniel in the attorney general’s race, and they’re both fine gentlemen. (Wooldridge, I think, would be the best candidate to challenge Holt in November. )
Holt is always at a clear disadvantage in campaign financing—he raised only $ 97, 000 in his 2004 U. S. Senate race against Blanche Lincoln’s $ 6 million—so advertising isn’t driving his support, either. I think the main reason people like Holt today is the same reason he got 44 percent of the vote against Lincoln (and all odds ) two years ago: He says what a lot of conservative Arkansans are thinking.

People still cling to simple truths, and they crave simpler distinctions in politics. In this age of consultants and politically correct considerations, differentiating between Republicans and Democrats can require a magnifying glass. It’s even tougher in a state like Arkansas with a lot of conservative Democrats.

Conservatives rightly feel left out when there doesn’t seem to be a dime’s worth of difference between the parties. Both parties are pro-big government now. Both are soft on crime. Both falter on moral absolutes. Both are big on social spending. In fact, it borders on fraud philosophically to claim to be a true conservative while supporting a $ 2 trillion (and growing ) federal government.

The U. S. Constitution has endured and prevailed precisely because of its simplicity, not in spite of it. Where there has been the greatest erosion, conversely, has been where complex circumstances have been allowed to water down simple truths.
Splitting hairs over criminal rights in open-and-shut cases, for example, has created a court system known not for swift and sure justice, but delays and technicalities. Ever since disadvantaged situations and protected demographics have trumped individual accountability, crime rates have stayed in orbit.

Holt goes back to basics and keeps it simple, which appeals to a great many Arkansans. He’s religious and proud of it, but so are many other conservatives who share a widespread and well-founded belief that secularism is a far greater threat to the Republic than religion. If there were a Ruralism Party in Arkansas, Holt could head it up, and a lot of Arkansans would switch to it. Far too few political candidates focus on our rural nature as a state strength—and opportunity. Maybe what Holt’s surprising success is telling us is that Arkansas needs more truly conservative voices and choices, not fewer.

Dana D. Kelley is a free-lance writer from Jonesboro and his article appear every Friday in the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

6:03 AM, May 25, 2006  
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