Representative Paul Ryan was the darling of conservatives when Mitt Romney chose him as his vice-presidential running mate. Some even compared him to Ronald Reagan, touting youtube videos showing him logically dismantle various Obama functionaries at congressional committees.
But now, not so much. What happened?
I believe the turning point for Ryan happened long before he began to champion amnesty for illegal aliens. It was the vice presidential debate that did him in. Yes, he was respectful. Yes, his arguments made sense. Yes, he commanded the facts. And yes, Joe Biden’s behaviour was boorish bordering on freakish.
Ryan’s problem? He didn’t know how to dominate the situation. As a leader, people are looking for somebody who can master events. Since Ryan has not held executive experience, voters want to see evidence of alpha leadership qualities. In an election campaign, they look for instances where the candidate comes out on top in difficult situations the other guy puts him in. Ryan didn’t do that with Biden. He didn’t know how to put Tailgunner Joe in his place. Ryan looked weak. His star began to fall.
What could Paul Ryan have done differently? The way an alpha deals with a yapping Pomeranian is to ignore it initially. When the yapping rises above a certain arbitrary threshold, or when it simply goes on for too long, the alpha quickly switches gears and effectively shuts him up. In this case, Ryan should have initially ignored Joe Biden’s Joker impressions and behaved as respectfully as he could towards his adversary, extended him every courtesy. When it became clear to the TV viewer that Biden wasn’t going to behave himself, Ryan should have suddenly changed tactics and challenged Biden directly. He should have said, “Look, I have treated you with respect throughout this debate. In return, you have shown me complete disrespect. If you want this debate to continue, you are going to have to start behaving.” And if Biden had responded with anything other than an apology, Ryan should have calmly walked off.
This is how an alpha male behaves. Don’t believe me? Go watch any Clint Eastwood spaghetti western or Dirty Harry movie. The script is always the same: the punks taunt Clint; Clint ignores the punks; the punks increase their taunts because they mistake Eastwood’s passivity for weakness; the taunts cross a threshold and Eastwood beats them to a pulp or shoots them. This is what an alpha male does. Clint Eastwood’s movies are popular and his character is beloved because he is the archetypal tough guy.
I mention all of this to point out what the Low Information Voter actually pays attention to. As I have long preached, they don’t care about policy. They are not ‘moderates’ in that their policy preferences are midway between left and right. They have no policy preferences. Right wing, left wing, chicken wing. They don’t care. They respond to demonstrations of leadership.