Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Find the Zebra

[Guest Contributor - Donald G. Mutersbaugh Sr.]

Today I am going to write a little bit of a “fringe” blog because of the continued political machinations of the Establishment (including Cruz and Kasich). Right now the entire political arena on the Republican side of the house is being run by the Establishment as the same old same old. Consider this: “The availability heuristic is a mental shortcut that relies on immediate examples that come to a given person's mind when evaluating a specific topic, concept, method or decision. The availability heuristic operates on the notion that if something can be recalled, it must be important, or at least more important than alternative solutions which are not as readily recalled. Subsequently, under the availability heuristic, people tend to heavily weigh their judgments toward more recent information, making new opinions biased toward that latest news.” It just seems that everybody has come to believe the Establishment that they know best and everybody should step aside and let the coronation of their candidate occur. So let’s look at some of the problems with this.


For one thing there is a vast majority of the electorate that feel disenfranchised; it’s almost as if they should not have even bothered to vote. Second, the entire Establishment is looking for ways to sabotage Trump – even if he wins the number of delegates necessary to be nominated in the first round. Third, if all else fails, let’s talk about changes to the rules, candidate substitution – including some people who may not have even run for the office this election cycle – whatever. Maybe the Establishment is talking about these things is to make Trump voters give up voting for him because they feel their votes won't count anyway (frustration, intimidation).


Another thing: there have been a number of lawsuits filed against Cruz because of his citizenship: The question seems to turn on what it means to be a “natural born citizen.” So let’s look at what the Qualifications for the Office of President are: “Age and Citizenship requirements - US Constitution, Article II, Section 1:  No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office who shall not have attained to the age of thirty-five years, and been fourteen years a resident within the United States.


The thing that I find curious – and I’m not a constitutional scholar – is that The Constitution never defines who is eligible to run for the office of president – only who “shall be eligible to the office of President!” If you look at of the lawsuits that have been filed, most have failed procedurally. It seems to me this will only be decided after the election – assuming Cruz wins – and whether he is eligible to assume the office – if he wins it!.


My conclusion: There is something very wrong with the way we select and fund our candidates. I think the 2016 primary experience should cause us to question the process: I think if nothing else Trump has exposed the political arena and all of its corruptness. Americans should be disgusted that their voting is irrelevant; the wealthy and powerful will decide who the candidate is – regardless of our voting preference. This has become especially clear since the Citizens United lawsuit opened the way for unlimited campaign contributions to Establishment candidates.


I have a couple of suggestions for what Mr. Trump needs to do. First, he has got to get ahead of everything and lead – he is leading from behind right now and reacting to the Establishment and Main Street stimuli. He should adapt his delivery. In direct marketing there is a rule called the 40/40/20 Rule: 40% audience, 40% offer, 20% Creative. Others have suggested modifications by splitting the percentage and adding Action. Another proposal was divided across four categories:

“We propose what we'll call the "4-Way Split Rule:" 25 percent audience, 25 percent offer, 25 percent creative, 25 percent technology.” He must repackage his presentation and make Cruz and Kasich irrelevant because he has got the winning message – not only for the electorate, but also for the electors at the Republican Convention. He has got to get out the vote – have a superior ground game. I believe that this election cycle will produce more votes cast than any previous election – both in number and in percentage of registered voters.


Finally, medical professionals are taught as students that when presented with symptoms, it’s best to pursue the most likely cause of those symptoms; that is what made the TV series “House” very popular: they would always go look for the bizarre! In medical terminology this is called a zebra: “Zebra is the American medical slang for arriving at an exotic medical diagnosis when a more commonplace explanation is more likely. It is shorthand for the aphorism coined in the late 1940s by Dr. Theodore Woodward, professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, who instructed his medical interns: ‘When you hear hoof beats, think of horses not zebras.’” I think that right now Trump and his team are thinking horses (Establishment) and not zebras (outside of the box solutions)!


For example, I would propose that Trump begin floating names for the Office of Vice President. Talk about something that might cause Establishment people to jump out of a window – well, this might do it! Maybe he could open the door to selecting Cruz or Kasich. Probably very impractical, but it would perhaps demonstrate a feeling of forgiveness and open-mindedness. Also, I would drop names (and I’m sure his team has already begun developing his A-List) of somebody who might be female (maybe a Latino like Susana Martinez (NM)). Once again, this is designed to allow him to get ahead of the game – redirect the media thinking and the Establishment – these people would not necessarily be his candidates.


There should be two rules which govern his end game on the way to the convention: “…when you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Sherlock Holmes, “The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier,” Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Finally, keep it simple: “Occam's (or Ockham's) razor is a principle attributed to the 14th century logician and Franciscan friar William of Ockham….The most useful statement of the principle for scientists is "when you have two competing theories that make exactly the same predictions, the simpler one is the better." I hope that he finds the zebra!


Donald G. Mutersbaugh, Sr. earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland and his Master of Business Administration degree from Mary Washington College. He is the former Associate Administrator of Information Resources for the U.S House of Representatives under Speaker Newt Gingrich.

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