America Tells Washington How it “Really Feels”

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Why Google and FOX News should be applauded for its handling of the GOP debate and why interactive debates represent the height of American exceptionalism.  

There was much applause, laughter, groaning, ooohhing and aaahhing during the FOX News/Google Presidential debate, and if you were forced to watch it online like I was, you were pleased that you could hear it all on a clear video stream without it “buffering” or cutting in an out.

However, FOX News execs must be ecstatic about the fact that most people viewed the debate on television. The Nielsen Company cited that 6.1 million people tuned in to FOX for the debate and that FOX set a new high among the coveted 25-54 demographic with 1.7 million viewers in that group. It was the highest-rated primetime showing for FOX this year.

FOX News and Google definitely deserve positive reviews for the debate format. (Some frontrunner candidates didn’t take advantage of that great format, but we’ll save that for another article.)

What was most appreciated about the debate format is that it was interactive. The fact that Google kept track of “word clouds” and of the most searched words on important issues meant that there was real value placed on what the voters and viewers cared about. There were no silly “If-you-were-a-tree-what-kind-would-you-be” type questions, and the brilliant use of YouTube and live web streaming allowed Americans to tell Washington, DC how they really feel.

Earlier in the week, CNN ran a story and a poll throughout the afternoon examining why so many politicians have decided to focus on the issue of patriotism this year. They asked viewers to weigh in with their opinions.

Despite the underperformance of certain frontrunners at the FOX News/Google debate, each candidate did address at least one issue correctly, and that was the issue of reinforcing American pride and American exceptionalism.

Former Governor Mitt Romney said that he would work to “make America the hope of the earth”. Former House Speaker, Newt Gingrich wrote months earlier in a newsletter to his supporters that America is a “nation like no other” and cited that America “…is the first country in the history of the world founded on the idea that the individual is sovereign—that we are the source of political legitimacy and that we loan power to the government.”

Political historian and philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville first introduced the world to the term “American exceptionalism” during the 19th century, and since then, several politicos have tried to define it, but it basically boils down to a belief in limited government, individualism, and the notion that the moral work of the individual is valuable. It places value on self-reliance and independence.    

As I go through this stint of time on the other side of the world, I have been reminded daily that America IS indeed exceptional. We’re the most benevolent. We’re the most free. We’re the only nation where people will literally break the law in order to GET INTO the country as opposed to breaking out of it.

We embrace innovation and individual freedom, and even American citizens who can’t even spell American exceptionalism, let alone define it, still place high importance and value in the fact that our country is a republic where anyone from a farmer’s son to a millionaire’s daughter can pursue the dream of life, liberty and happiness.

The average American may not be able to define “republic” either, but they know that we live in a country in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen by them. How many countries can or will hold a debate that allows its “everyday citizens” to submit questions to the candidates and ask them in a live format?

The American people are more than aware that our elected officials are supposed to answer to us, not tell us what we “need to know.” In this type of representative government, those who would be our leaders have to understand this on the most fundamental level, and while I join the rest of the GOP primary electorate in its reservations with some of our candidates, I feel comfortable that each candidate who graced the stage at the FOX/Google debate understands this to be true.

The answer to CNN’s question about why politicians in both parties are focusing on patriotism and American Pride is this: Americans have an innate knowledge that we are an exceptional nation, and that is exactly why anyone who dares to run for President and represent us on an international stage must understand that. Not only must they understand it, they must fundamentally believe it.

That is why it is not only brilliant but patriotic to use technology in Presidential debates the way that FOX News and Google did. It gives the average citizen a voice in the electoral process, and whoever “would be President” should remember that the people put them there, and the people hold them accountable.

The American people want to know that our leaders understand our importance and that Washington isn’t just a place that is “far, far away” where decisions are made over our heads.  America should have known better than to elect someone President with not even a full U.S. Senate term’s experience. As we can see, that was not a good idea. However, the MOTIVE behind electing President Obama was on-point.

What Americans were hoping for was a leader who could reinstate their belief in the land of the free—not someone who would go on an international apology tour. Americans wanted an optimistic, competent leader who was eager to work on their behalf and ready to go to Washington with genuinely new ideas about how to get this country on track.

As Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus recently stated: “People are hungry in this country not necessarily for all Republican answers or all Democratic answers. They’re hungry for real authentic people to lead this country.”

So for all the political insiders who still have yet to understand how Cain can upset Perry in a straw poll and why neither moderate nor conservative Republican voters can coalesce around the elite media’s “frontrunners,” this is how America really feels.

Princella Smith is a former Capitol Hill aide, former aide to Newt Gingrich, and former Congressional candidate. She got her start in politics in 2001 and was introduced to the national political scene in 2004 as both a primetime speaker at the Republican National Convention. She is currently the owner of American Pride Strategies and the founder of American Pride PAC.