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Thomas Sowell
Thomas Sowell
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The Need to Explain


The most successful Republican presidential candidate of the past half century— Ronald Reagan, who was elected and reelected with landslide victories— bore little resemblance to the moderate candidates that Republican conventional wisdom depicts as the key to victory, even though most of these moderate candidates have in fact gone down to defeat.

One of the biggest differences between Reagan and these latter-day losers was that Reagan paid great attention to explaining his policies and values. He was called "the great communicator," but much more than a gift for words was involved. The issues that defined Reagan's vision were things he had thought about, written about and debated for years before he reached the White House.

Reagan was like a veteran quarterback who comes up to the line of scrimmage, takes a glance at how the other team is deployed against him, and knows automatically what he needs to do. There is not enough time to figure it out from scratch, while waiting for the ball to be snapped. You have to have figured out such things long before the game began, and now just need to execute.

Very few Republican candidates for any office today show any sign of such in-depth preparation on issues. Mitt Romney, for example, inadvertently showed his lack of preparation when he indicated that he was in favor of indexing the minimum wage rate, so that it would rise automatically with inflation.

That sounds fine. But the cold fact is that minimum wage laws create massive unemployment among black teenagers. Conversely, one of the lowest rates of unemployment among black teenagers occurred in the 1940s, when inflation virtually repealed the minimum wage law passed in 1938, since even unskilled labor was paid more in inflated dollars than the minimum wage law required.

Even during the recession year of 1949, black teenage unemployment was a fraction of what it would be in the most prosperous later years, after the minimum wage rate was raised repeatedly to keep pace with inflation. One of the few benefits of inflation is that it can in effect repeal minimum wage laws, which politicians can do directly only by risking their reelection.

Conservative opposition to minimum wage laws is just one of the ways that conservative principles often work out to benefit those with lower incomes, more so than liberal principles that sound so much better as political rhetoric.

It seems unlikely that Governor Romney had time to learn about such things during this year's busy election campaign.

He was like a rookie quarterback with just a few seconds to try to figure out the opposing team's complex formations before the ball is snapped. One of the secrets of Barack Obama's success is his ability to say things that will sound both plausible and inspiring to uninformed people, even when they sound ridiculous to people who know the facts. Apparently he believes the former outnumber the latter, and the election results suggest that he may be right.

Since most of the media will never expose Obama's fallacies and falsehoods, it is all the more important for Republicans to do so themselves. Nor is it necessary for every Republican candidate for every office to become an expert on every controversial issue.

Just as particular issues are farmed out to different committees in Congress, so Republicans can set up committees of outside experts to inform them on particular issues.

For example, a committee on income and poverty could be headed by an expert like Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation. This is a subject on which demonstrable falsehoods have become the norm, and one on which devastating refutations in plain English are readily available from a number of sources.

A committee on the counterproductive effects of liberal policies such as minimum wage laws on minorities could be headed by someone like economist Walter Williams. Here too, there are many writings in plain English that could expose the huge harm done to minorities by liberal policies that claim to be helping them.

It is not necessary to explode every single lie put out by liberal Democrats. All that is necessary is to thoroughly discredit a few of their key claims, exposing them as liars.

What is even more necessary is for Republicans themselves to understand the urgent need to do so, for their own sake and— more important— for the country's sake.

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. His website is To find out more about Thomas Sowell and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



3 Comments | Post Comment
You fail to mention black youth employment was much higher in those years because blacks had their own communities, their own businesses, did their own hiring and couldn't depend on whites for anything but the occasional lynching or destruction of their business or threats to their livelihood because blacks no longer shopped at white stores and the skills of the black workers were in many cases far superior to that of whites, that white folks were lining up to buy from the skilled black artisans of the day, be it their labor intensive skills or their business acumen, entertainment abilities, or the 'menial' tasks of cooking, cleaning, laundering & ironing clothes, or raising children, or doing the dirty jobs whites wouldn't do and Mexicans, well, Mexicans is a whole other story. The point being, more whites were lining up to buy black goods and services than blacks lining up for white goods. That in a nutshell is why black youth employment, black employment overall was up during those years. Those years were different in many ways that some people can't fathom. There was only one or two of the same businesses, so little competition, most people didn't leave their neighborhoods except to work. That you deliberately mislead or intentionally fail to inform your audience and attempt to mislead them is, I believe, your certainty that the people who read you trust you. You rely and abuse that trust and their ignorance knowing full well few, if any will check behind you or your partner in crime, Walter. Shame on you. Your lies and deceptions exploit their trust and allows their ignorance to continue and expose themselves as foolish and ignorant when they quote you and what they are quoting is a lie. You and your kind are fearful of telling the real truth and your verbal skills and manipulation of words can and do defeat truth on a regular basis. How proud you must be of yourself.
Comment: #1
Posted by: morgan
Thu Nov 15, 2012 9:47 AM
Ronald Reagan was never one to let a fact get in the way of his scripted replies.I wouldn't call him a liar because you actually have to know the facts to lie about them."Vietnam veterans are not eligible for benefits because Vietnam was not a declared war", Reagan quote.The fact Reagan was elected and reelected says more about the ignorance of the voter than it does about policy.Reagan never did understand what was illegal about the Iran/Contra deal.Ignorant or just plain stupid,thats Reagan take your pick.
Comment: #2
Thu Nov 15, 2012 7:08 PM
To all writers of Creators Syndicate Inc. Losers big mouth Losers
Comment: #3
Posted by: Phil de Giulio
Sun Nov 18, 2012 7:24 PM
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