Politics won’t be a team sport when I’m President

RANCHO SANTA FE, Ca., February 24, 2012 – Do you remember the brouhaha over President Obama’s alleged bow to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia at a G-20 meeting in London?  I say “alleged” because his Press Secretary suggested that the President merely bent over because he was taller.  The reality is that the President and the Republican Party candidates routinely bow, not to foreign dignitaries, but to the political Parties that “own” them.

This actuality was revealed during the Republican Debate on February 22nd when Senator Santorum confessed that politics was a “team sport” and that “sometimes, you take one for the team.”  Translation:  when you’re a Party politician, you do what you’re told.

Your Party’s positions need not reflect what you personally believe.  As a Party politician, you are expected to comply.  In fact, you are essentially obligated to do so.

Party politicians (Presidential candidates in particular) effectively abdicate their ability to exercise independent judgment and leadership when they register as Party candidates.  They do this in return for the easy access to money, infrastructure, and media attention their Party promises to deliver.  Given his recent propensity, it is somewhat surprising that Senator Santorum has resisted the temptation to describe this political ritual as “a deal with the Devil.”

However, just because Senator Santorum is a Republican and made his “team” comment at a Republican debate, do not delude yourself into believing the problem is restricted to Republican Party candidates.  It is not.

The President has demonstrated his obeisance to the Party paradigm as well.  Rather than focusing his time on building the bipartisan support he promised during his 2008 campaign, he has become the champion of widening the political divide within our Nation.

In his recent energy speech, the President mocked what he described to be the Republican candidates’ “three-point plans for two-dollar gas.”  As he described it: “Step One is drill; Step Two is drill; and Step Three is keep drilling.”

When you compare that to the President’s recurring theme (i.e., Step One is to blame the Republicans; Step Two is to blame the Republicans; and Step Three is to keep blaming the Republicans), the difference isn’t particularly persuasive.

Interestingly enough, the Democrats held majorities in both the House and Senate for 44 out of the last 67 years; during which time it simultaneously held the Oval Office for 24 of those years.  It held majorities in the House for 52 of those 67 years and in the Senate for 47 of those 67 years.  Yet, everything seems to be the Republicans’ fault.

The President certainly must know that his Party’s record of accomplishment is every bit as bleak as the Republican’s record.  However, he is forced to pretend otherwise.

It is important to understand the magnitude of the debt that Party candidates owe to their respective Parties and how that debt is traditionally “repaid.”

In 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama’s political machine raised approximately $745.7 million and spent $729.3 million (about twice what Senator McCain was able to raise and spend).

Subsequently, about 80 percent of senior White House appointments and 50 percent of Ambassadorships have been given to individuals who bundled $500 thousand or more for the President’s campaign.  Similarly, a disquieting amount of Federal funds has been distributed to bundlers’ companies and business investments in the form of appropriation favoritism and stimulus money (e.g., Solyndra, etc.).

This is not to suggest that Senator McCain would have behaved any differently had he won the election.  It is simply a reflection of how the Party paradigm works.

Moving forward, the President’s 2012 committee is targeting something in the vicinity of $1 billion in donations to secure his re-election, and that number doesn’t include the expected contributions of Super PACs.

On Feb. 10, 2007, then-Senator Obama harshly criticized “the cynics, the lobbyists, the special interests,” whom he said had “turned our Government into a game only they can afford to play.”  He went on to add, “They write the checks and you get stuck with the bill, they get the access while you get to write a letter, they think they own this Government, but we’re here today to take it back.”

Perhaps, he actually believed that at the time only later to discover that he had inevitably sold his soul to the Party paradigm.

The Parties have used money to erect barriers to Third Party candidates and legitimate independent candidates such as myself.  They have created a system that is radically skewed toward maintaining their base of power.

The cost to be certified by each State as a Presidential candidate on its ballot is astronomical.  Fortunately, an organization known as Americans Elect has been formed to try to provide a viable alternative.

Additionally, there is always an opportunity to exercise your Liberty and to write in a candidate’s name.  Did I mention how easy it is to spell my name?  Just look at OBAMA and change the “BM” to an “HR” to get OHARA.  Nothing could be easier.

The Parties have also created a system that features exorbitant marketing costs.  The Parties will spend hundreds of millions of dollars in “media buys” to “advertise” their candidates.  If you have ever wondered why you never see coverage of legitimate non-Party candidates, it is probably because the Parties’ media buys essentially have bought the media.

In that regard, I sincerely appreciate the independent Communities section of The Washington Times for providing me with a forum through which to expose the Party paradigm.  It’s a throwback to something in the First Amendment called “Free Speech.”

Those who exercise “Freedom of the Press,” which was granted in that same First Amendment, used to respect the responsibility that came with that right.  Unfortunately, candidates have become “clients” of the media and the responsibility to report the news has been adversely affected.

There was a time when the “News Room” was a non-profit center for the networks.  Once Ted Turner broke the code, the world of reporting changed forever.  Thus, you will be faced with an endless stream of negative (and often unsubstantiated) ads that are designed to shape your beliefs and control your voting behavior, but you will have to perform your own version of due diligence to learn about the solutions that independent candidates offer.

Returning briefly to the President’s recent energy speech, he said, “… the American people aren’t stupid.”  Yet, his Party (as well as the Republican Party) will spend millions of dollars on advertising gimmicks that suggest the exact opposite.

Consider the use of political billboards, bumper stickers, and lawn signs that will soon be visible everywhere.  While each of the candidates will profess to care about the environment, they will kill an entire forest to print these promotional pieces if it will help them get elected.

Think about it.  Billboards, bumper stickers, and lawn signs offer no substantive content and merely despoil the landscape.  Their only purpose is to impact the voting decisions of those Americans who will cast their vote based only on which candidate’s name they remember seeing the most.  The Parties are counting on the fact that some Americans are stupid.  It is an insult to our collective intelligence, but we allow it to continue.

If you have a particularly high threshold for absorbing insults, visit the candidates’ websites.  They have “stores” that will sell you bumper stickers, pins, tee shirts, baseball caps, mugs, and any autobiographies they have written about themselves.

The President has taken political marketing a step further by raffling off a chance to have dinner with him.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, our political campaigns have degenerated to this level of disrespect for the Office of President of the United States.

This is where we are as a society – and it’s our fault.  We permitted the Parties to cheapen the Presidency and every other elected position they touch.  Perhaps, we are stupid.  I would prefer to think that we are just apathetic, and that has to change.

Are you disappointed by the choices you have among the Party candidates?  Have you heard others complain about the field?  Have you complained about it yourself?

The problem won’t fix itself.  You have to take a stand and do something.  You have to vote for the best candidate rather than the candidate a Party tells you is your only choice.  The line that “an independent candidate can’t win” or will just “split the vote” is a Party tactic designed to create a level of fear that forces you to vote for “the lesser of two evils.”  You do not have to sacrifice the Liberty to vote your conscience just because the Party would prefer you believe that to be true.

The Party candidates have already surrendered their ability to lead in return for their Party’s support.  In turn, the Party shapes each candidate into the image it wants.

The campaign teams hire image consultants and makeup artists to make their candidates fit the image the Party wants to project.  Have you ever seen so many potential “world leaders” in a pair of jeans and an open-collar shirt with the sleeves rolled up?  The scene begs you to believe the candidates are “just one of you,” they’re “in touch with the common man,” and they’ve got their sleeves rolled up because they’re “ready to get to work.”

Early in the process, a staff of pollsters is hired to collect data that is turned over to a team of political strategists.  The strategists determine what you want to hear (rather than what you need to hear) and how it can be positioned in the best interest of their candidate.  Then, they turn that information over to a group of professional speech writers, who create the sound bites and emotionally gripping passages that their candidate will read from a TelePrompTer.  If the candidate reads well, he or she will be praised as “a great orator.”

As I have often said, “The difference between a ‘Leader’ and a ‘Reader’ is more than a letter.”

In the end, the successful nominee will owe his or her Party.  Political access, appropriations, and appointments will be traded like currency.  The President’s position on issues will be tied to his or her Party’s platform, and the opposing Party will be vilified for anything that goes wrong (assuming that anything actually gets done).  Correspondingly, the President will surrender about 75 percent of the time that should be spent doing the People’s business in favor of traveling around the country at taxpayer expense to raise money for the Party, campaign on behalf of other Party candidates, and when applicable, run for re-election; all in an effort to continue the cycle of his or her Party’s dominance.

Over the next several weeks, I will detail how I have created an approach that is insulated from the influence of the Parties and their sources of money.  I will also begin to expose you to the approach I will take to solve our Nation’s problems.  I hope that you will read and share these articles with everyone you know. Whether the Party paradigm is allowed to continue will depend on the action you take.  I am running for the Office of the President of the United States to give you a choice.  It is up to you to determine whether you will take it.


T.J. O’Hara is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and strategic consultant in the private and public sectors. In 2012, he emerged as the leading independent candidate for the Office of President of the United States and the first nominee of the Whig Party in over 150 years.

This article first appeared in T.J. O’Hara’s recurring column, A President for the People, in the Communities section of The Washington Times.