How the media speaks about issues should be distinguished from how the candidates speak of them. The media categorizes Americans based upon ascribed characteristics – meaning by ethnicity; however, candidates must not do that. They must speak to EVERY America in their campaign pitches – and make a point of it. This according to John Fonte and Mike Gonzalez, who reference an insightful exchange Ronald Reagan had about this with Dwight Eisenhower in the sixties. From a blog post in The Weekly Standard.

1. Candidates who speak to ALL of us

2. We are not hyphenated Americans

In July 1966, former President Eisenhower took an interest in Reagan’s candidacy for governor of California and, through the intermediary of a mutual friend, decided to write talking points for the conservative former actor. At one point in the typed letter, which can be found at the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas, Ike suggested that “at the first major press conference” Reagan should express the following:

“In this campaign I’ve been presenting to the public some of the things I want to do for California – meaning for all the people of our State. I do not exclude any citizen from my concern and I make no distinctions among them on such invalid bases as color or creed.”

Ike went on to write that “something conveying this meaning might well be slipped into every talk – such as ‘There are no ‘minority’ groups so far as I’m concerned. We are all Americans.”

Reagan answered in longhand a few days later. “I am in complete agreement about dropping the hyphens that presently divide us into minority groups.” Reagan continued, “I’m convinced this ‘hyphenating’ was done by our opponents to create voting blocks for political expediency. Our party should strive to change this – one is not an Irish-American for example but is instead an American of Irish descent.”

Eisenhower and Reagan immediately and instinctively knew that this embryonic identity politics was a direct challenge to the universalism that America stands for. Beneath their smiles and Midwestern amiability, Ike and the Gipper revealed a deep understanding and sophistication of what political philosophers would call “regime maintenance.” That is, the ideas and values are necessary to sustain the American way of life. via The Weekly Standard

 

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