Social Conservatives “must win in politics”
Abbey Lee
October 25, 2017
Social Conservatives “must win in politics”
“Politics is a shaping part of culture. It's where we determine what's good, what's true, what's just, what's right, what's moral, and it's where we determine what's beyond the pale and acceptable.” On October 4, Terry Schilling visited the members of the Leadership Institute's Wednesday Wake-up Club Breakfast to speak frankly about progress in the social conservative movement. Terry, the Executive Director of the American Principles Project, has worked in many areas of the nonprofit world, including communications, development, and grassroots. An Illinois native, he has worked with several state and local candidates, among them his father, Rep. Bobby Schilling. Addressing the attendees, he spoke from experience in the work he has dedicated to the cause. He has witnessed how abortion has become more and more acceptable in American culture simply because it has been made legal. Terry urges those who stand for traditional, conservative values to support and invest in those causes. “Social conservatives are in danger of losing everything, and it's because we've abdicated our duty and responsibility to invest in politics,” Terry said. For too long, the right has merely defended themselves against attacks from the left. Social conservatives must do more than educate themselves and vote. It is their duty to play offense and invest in the future of the conservative movement to maintain the traditional values held dear. He parts with impactful words, saying, “Not only can we win, but we must win in politics because the future of America depends on it.” Leadership Institute's Wednesday Wake-up Club Breakfast hosts conservative speakers and attendees for breakfast on the first Wednesday of each month. To become a breakfast club member, visit this link.
Your elevator pitch -- 20 seconds to make an impression
Kate Lipman
October 16, 2017
Your elevator pitch -- 20 seconds to make an impression
Picture the scenario; you are an intern or junior staffer in the elevator of your work building, and a Vice President walks in… what do you do? Do you burst into tears, fall on your knees and beg for a job? Or do you seize the moment and deliver your elevator pitch? This brief but persuasive 20-second pitch is your chance to engage a potential employer in conversation in a confident but respectful way. By using this opportunity correctly, you can make a strong impression and turn them into a lasting connection. Here are some tips for your elevator pitch. Be natural. If you try to hero worship them, they won't take you seriously. Likewise, if you deliver the speech like you've been practicing it in the mirror, they won't take you seriously. Be respectful but confident. If you want a job working for them somewhere down the line, you have to earn their respect. A great way to do this is to bring up a topic of mutual interest. Perhaps you saw them speak, or read one of their articles. Draw from that to start a conversation. Instead of “Wow it's amazing to meet you, I'm a huge fan of… and I've always wanted to work there.” Try “Hi… my name is… and I work at… I attended your recent talk on… and you made some really interesting points.” Don't ask them for anything. Most executives are experienced enough to separate those legitimately interested in them and their organizations from the users simply trying to find their next job or promotion. Just like with any networking opportunity, the goal is to establish a relationship and then you can work on turning them into a connection. Be genuine and show a legitimate interest in them. By getting their business card, you can follow up and ask them for coffee later. Instead of: “I saw that there's a vacancy at… I'd like to apply; would you give the recruiter my resume?” Try: “How did you come to work in…? I am interested in pursuing a career in this field and would value any advice you have.” Let them talk. Most people enjoy talking about themselves, which can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. By letting someone talk about himself or herself, you are demonstrating a legitimate interest in them and allowing the conversation to flow naturally rather than simply pitching yourself. The disadvantage of this can be that by letting them do all the talking, you don't get the chance to impress. Try to establish a connection with what they're saying and something you have accomplished. For example, if they talk about public policy, try to contribute to the conversation and offer an informed opinion. Instead of: “That's interesting… yes… I understand.” Try: “That's a good point; I have recently been working on a similar project to…” Swap business cards and follow up. If possible, you should aim to swap business cards at the end of the conversation. Remember, it is more important to get their business card than it is to give them yours. By getting their card, you give yourself the opportunity to follow up and turn a chance encounter into a real connection. Instead of: “Here is my business card, if you're free for coffee sometime I'd love to learn more.” Try: “Do you have a business card on you? I would be very interested to follow up with you can continue this conversation at your convenience.” When chance encounters occur with your role models, it can be a daunting experience. If you show confidence, sell yourself, and show a legitimate interest, you will be able to use the opportunity to secure a lasting connection.
Caught Between a Job Offer and a Job Offer!
Ben Woodward
September 18, 2017
Caught Between a Job Offer and a Job Offer!
If you're searching for a job and finding the process difficult, I'm willing to bet that the prospect of competing job offers would be a dream come true. Let's be honest, it's hardly a bad situation to find yourself in. When the situation arose for me, I regret how I handled it. Fresh out of university, I was desperate to get a job in the UK Parliament. When I successfully got to the final round of interviews I was excited. My instincts told me the interview had been a big success. We even bonded over our mutual love of F1 racing. After being told to expect a decision within a week, I was contacted at the same time by a friend offering me a different opportunity. With my heart set on Parliament, I waited. Four weeks later I received the dreaded email telling me that I had been unsuccessful. The alternative opportunity my friend had sent me was now being advertised. Thankfully I got the job. But I made a bad first impression by failing to be honest and talk to both parties. Here is what you should do if you're ever caught in this position. Get yourself a written job offer. The job offer is not technically made until it's formally written out. If you're given a verbal job offer, thank them and tell them how excited you are at the prospect of working for them. Then ask them to put the offer in an email. Explain the situation. Once you have the written offer, be honest. Tell them that you are very excited about the opportunity but that you have another interview scheduled and would like time to weigh up your options. If they tell you they need an answer urgently then you'll have to decide whether it is worth the risk. My advice is to take the job offer if it's an opportunity you think you would still enjoy and benefit from. If you have more time, explain the situation to your other potential employer. You may find that the interview for the next job helps make your decision before you have to discuss other offers. You will likely get a sense of your success, whether the organization is somewhere you want to work, and whether you think the other offer provides a better opportunity. If you find that your instincts were right, and you do want to work at the second organization, tell them. At the end of your interview, be honest and explain that they are your preferred choice however you have another offer pending and see whether they can commit to a decision in a shorter amount of time. One last thing... It's not an easy situation to find yourself in. Ultimately, you will have to decide whether the risk is worth compromising your current offer. By taking these steps and being honest and respectful to the competing employers, you can help mitigate the risks and hopefully give yourself the time you need to secure both offers.
A Blog Can Be Great For Your Career
Ben Woodward
July 2, 2017
A Blog Can Be Great For Your Career
When people think about blogs, they usually dismiss them as a prehistoric way of getting ideas into the public realm. Today many people prefer a 140-character tweet to a well thought out, self-published article that takes a lot of work to compose and publicize. However, when it comes to your career, demonstrating passion for your field is critical. Writing a blog, which is accessible to recruiters, could be what secures your next big opportunity. Here are 5 ways writing a blog can benefit your career. You can establish yourself as a thought leader Recruiters will expect to see that you have knowledge of your field and show an active interest. By writing a blog directly related to the professional area in which you want to progress, you can illustrate your interest and your ability to lead others. By communicating with readers in such a way that offers leadership, you are showing that you are a strong communicator and an innovative thinker. You can reach an audience directly Individuals who have not yet established themselves in their field do not interest most publishers. By writing your own blog, you cut out the intermediary and go directly to your chosen audience. When you write your blog, get your friends to share it, publish it on your social media and in relevant group chats, even tweet it to respected individuals in your field. That way you add validity to your work and show recruiters that readers respect your opinion. You have writing samples to show recruiters Good writers are in high demand, so not only will writing a blog refine your ability, but it will also give you examples of your writing you can show to recruiters. When you build your following and established people share your work, your blog posts gain validity as writing samples in job applications. In addition, by establishing a digital footprint you will have ‘Google Insurance.' This means that when a recruiter Googles your name they will see links to your blog. This shows you are engaged in the current trends of your industry and will significantly improve your likelihood of getting an interview. You can build a community of people interested in your field Building a following among your readers will get you noticed by others in your field. Taking an active role in the discussion will help you make connections. For example, if you are interested in foreign policy, blogging about it, and having your writing shared by those currently working in foreign affairs will get you noticed by potential recruiters. When you write a blog, remember to put links to your social media and personal website so readers and recruiters can find you easily. Your employer may value contributions Many employers in the conservative movement are looking for contributions to their websites and social media. By writing blog pieces you not only help your employer create content for their website and social media, but you also publish pieces through your organization which increases the validity of your writings. Successful workers take initiative. By writing a blog, you show employers you take an active interest in your work. If you have a significant following, use your blog to attract attention to your organization's successes. That way you can assist your employers beyond your day-to-day work. If you are interested in learning more about successful written communications for your career, please register for the Leadership Institute's Written Communications Workshop.
3 Effective Ways to Boost Your Facebook Engagement
Stephen Rowe
June 28, 2017
3 Effective Ways to Boost Your Facebook Engagement
You may notice a pattern every time you scroll your newsfeed. It starts with a relevant update, then an advertisement, and it doesn't take long before a video starts auto-playing. The biggest question on people's minds when they see this pattern is, “How do I get my content to appear first in everyone else's newsfeed?” Here are three things you can start doing now: 1. Go Live Creating a video is one of the quickest ways to grow your online presence and spread your message. Between 2015 and 2016, video consumption on Facebook increased 800% (from 1 billion views to 8 billion views per day). Now that's a big boost. Making things even better, Facebook gives precedence to videos over other pieces of content. Facebook even sends push notifications when friends “go live.” It's very easy to use Facebook live. You just update your status as usual, click “Live Video”, make sure everything is ready in preview, and click “Go Live” (pro tip: get a stabilizer for your iPhone or camera and a microphone for less than $35). Even if you're camera-shy, Facebook Live can still be for you. You can create live Facebook polls very easily with free sites like MyLivePolls. Then ask your audience relevant questions and watch your engagement soar. Video is king. Start using it! 2. Great visuals = Great social media Almost no one will stop scrolling for a huge chunk of text. But an engaging image will get you everywhere! Your Facebook page posts should have high-quality photos. People love great visuals more than they care to read. You don't have to be a design expert to create compelling visual graphics. Check out Canva.com if you are new to the design world. It's a free and simple graphic design tool website. Learn Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator at the Leadership Institute. The next Digital Creative Workshop: Design is just around the corner. 3. Posting frequency “How often should I post on Facebook?” You should post on Facebook as often as you have quality content. Just ensure your posts are spaced out at least an hour. If you have tons of content, then posting up to 15 times per day is a good thing. However, 95% of people don't have the quality content (or time) to post that much. Let your content dictate the frequency of your posting. Do your best to craft a content schedule and make it consistent. The marketplace will let you know if you're posting too much if you're getting poor engagement on your posts. If you're getting a solid number of likes, comments, and shares then try increasing how often you post. 4. BONUS: Check out the Leadership Institute's online Facebook for Activism training! If you liked the tips above, you will love this training. The Leadership Institute's Online Training: Facebook for Activism will show you how to use Facebook to build a movement around the candidate, campaign, or cause you're committed to. You will leave this training with strategies you can use to accomplish your goals, whether it's starting chapters, recruiting volunteers, building your meetings and events, or even just connecting your friends to each other. Specifically, you'll learn: how to prime your Facebook for success to activate people in your online community; best practices to create conten­t that your supporters will respond to and want to share; and a proven, five-step process to build relationships with your supporters. Learn more about Facebook for Activism here. Let me know what you think. Have you used any of the resources/tactics above? Leave a comment below.
Five things you should do in your first week at a new job
Ben Woodward
May 22, 2017
Five things you should do in your first week at a new job
Starting a new job is among the most daunting experiences in our professional lives. After all, you only get one chance at a first impression. As well as trying to wrap your head around your new responsibilities, learn the office culture, make friends, and demonstrate your ability, you're also trying to keep your feet on the ground and build a successful future for yourself. It is natural to want to keep your head down and not draw attention to yourself, like a mouse among sleeping cats. This is a mistake! Here are five things you should do in your first week: Ask your supervisor (and employees) to lunch By asking your supervisor to lunch, you are showing your new boss that you are confident in your new role and you are serious about learning the ropes. I would advise you to keep this lunch just the two of you if possible, as other employees may dominate the conversation. It is also an effective way to get to know your supervisor on a one-to-one basis, outside of the formal office environment. It is important for them to get to know you. This is your chance to tell them what you want out of this job and where you would like to go in your career. If you're a manager, take your staff out to lunch, either in small groups, or one-to-one if possible. This is your chance to understand what makes these individuals tick, and establish what you expect from them. Introduce yourself to everybody in the office You will be spending lots of time with the people in your department and organization over the next few months and years. So be sure to take some time to introduce yourself to everybody in the kitchens, boardrooms, or even by visiting their workspace. Understanding the office culture is critical to success. You will likely need to collaborate with other departments on a multitude of projects, so make friends with them quickly to establish your relationship. Too many new employees fail to integrate themselves into the social side of a new office and get left out in the cold. Learn about all of the current and upcoming projects Fully brief yourself on all of the current projects in your department. Wherever possible, you should do your research, but do not be afraid to ask smart questions. It is in your colleagues' interests to help you succeed, as your work will affect theirs. Try to establish what other people are working on and where you can be of assistance, but also what scope you have for innovation. Every employer is different; some will let you pursue your projects, whereas others prefer a top-down approach. Learn about the location of your office Being successful at work requires you to be happy in your job, and comfortable in your environment. However moving to a new place, especially if you have moved away from home or college for the first time can make you feel isolated and unsettled. This is not conducive to success in your new job. Ensure that you learn the area quickly. Where are the best restaurants, bars, and coffee shops? What activities are happening locally? With whom in your office do you share hobbies? This will help you to settle quickly into your new environment, and even take the lead in your office's social life. Reconnect with former colleagues It is easy when you start a new job to be swept up in your new professional life. As a keen networker, try to get into the habit of keeping in touch with your old colleagues quickly. You never know when you will need a referral, or when your new job requires a connection from your past. Remember to keep those professional relationships alive.
Sutton's Place: Predictions...Plus 10 in the Senate
Steve Sutton
October 29, 2014
Sutton's Place: Predictions...Plus 10 in the Senate
As I write this, there is exactly one week left before the 2014 election. In the spirit of the season, it is time for predictions. Yet rather than make any new predictions, I will simply repeat two predictions about this year's elections, which I made last year (December 2013 to be exact). Ten months ago I made two bold predictions. The first was that no incumbent GOP U.S. Senator would lose his primary. Not one. Not Lindsey Graham…not Lamar Alexander…not Mitch McConnell…not them nor any others. And as it turned out, that prediction came true. So why did I make that prediction? Because campaigns matter. And I didn't see a strong enough infrastructure in place for any conservative to successfully challenge an incumbent U.S. Senator. That includes (but is not limited to) well-prepared/trained candidates, staff, volunteers, organization, and fundraisers. It was my belief that incumbent GOP Senators were not going to be surprised in 2014 like some had been in 2010. In 2012, several GOP incumbents survived because they were ready (i.e. Orrin Hatch), proactive, and aggressive. They showed how to win in the new climate of GOP primaries, and their fellow incumbent Senators saw what they did and learned from their example. Without the element of surprise, conservative candidates were going to have to run better campaigns to succeed. And it just didn't appear to me that they had the resources (or understanding) to do so. My second prediction has yet to occur. I remain optimistic that it will come true. In December of 2013, I predicted that the GOP would pick-up ten seats in the U.S. Senate. That's a net gain of ten seats. No caveats. No conditions. No equivocation. What was the basis of that prediction? At the time, President Obama's popularity had breached below the 50% favorability threshold that signals trouble. The single most important metric of off-year elections in a President's second term is that President's favorability rating. Over 50% and a President's party does well enough (holds onto seats…limits losses…may even gain here or there). Under 50% and there's trouble brewing. And under 45% means all he's got left is his base…and they are usually not all that enthusiastic, making the election results even worse. And the President's fall in popularity was based upon a lack of trust. Once trust is lost, it is almost impossible to regain. Reagan (after Iran-Contra) and Clinton (after Lewinsky) recovered because they both admitted some level of responsibility. Obama never has (and never will) because to him, his problems are all everyone else's fault. In fact, he just doubles down. In the face of that climate, my belief was that Republicans would run the table and that 2014 would be similar to 2010. And so that's what led to my prediction of a net of 10 seats for the GOP in the U.S. Senate. That will mean no loses (so the GOP will need to retain Kansas, Kentucky, and Georgia). And that means winning North Carolina and New Hampshire. We'll know in a week. But I'll stand by that 2013 prediction and see where the chips fall.
Likely Leftist Messaging
Steve Sutton
October 8, 2014
Likely Leftist Messaging
In case you're still confused or unsure how the left will approach this year's campaigns, here's an insightful article from the LA Times. Economic populism is the polite way the left phrases their campaign of "who to blame." Remember, the left runs their campaigns (not just election campaigns, but public policy "campaigns") on the premise that it's "Us" versus "Them." They define the "Them" and if you're not one of "Them" then you are one of "Us." That's the way to build a winning, majority coalition. They start with who to blame and then pivot to those who are victimized by that group. In this case, blame the rich (and powerful). It's their fault that you are where you are. “They” won't raise the minimum wage. “They” won't pay women equal pay. “They” are uncaring and out of touch and for the rich. Class warfare. Income inequality. Get ready for it. It's coming (it's already here). And remember to deflect it and get back on your message.
Sutton's Place Returns
Steve Sutton
September 24, 2014
Sutton's Place Returns
Labor Day marks the end of summer and the return of many special American traditions...children return to school, the football season begins, leaves change color...and Sutton's Place returns from an extended summer hiatus. The political season is upon us as well. Rather than an occasional commentary every week or two, Sutton's Place will be very active during the next several weeks. So expect to see more frequent observations and opinions (at least through Election Day). Let's start with a discussion of the relatively obscure Democrat primary for Governor in Rhode Island. Who thought RI's Dem primary would hold a valuable lesson for conservatives? Check out this op-ed from the Washington Post. It details the candidacy (and victory) of Gina Raimondo who championed an aggressive restructuring of public sector employee union pensions in RI. You may recall the attempt to recall Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin, an important campaign which drew our attention. But on the same day that recall attempt failed, there were two very important referendums in California that deserved our attention as well. On the ballot for voter approval in two different California cities were initiatives to trim public sector employee union pensions...one in San Diego and another in San Jose. The ballot initiatives passed easily in both cities. San Jose voted overwhelmingly (more than 2/3rds, I believe) for President Obama and has a Democrat mayor (also an Obama supporter). But San Jose voters voted 2/3rds FOR the limits on union pensions. The mayor strongly supported the initiative as well. There are two important reasons that voters support trimming public sector union pensions. One is that public services are being limited/curtailed/cut to pay for generous pensions. Parks are closing, libraries are reducing their hours, and even police and fire protection is being limited. This is why many Democrats/liberals (who believe strongly in greater government services) are voting to limit public sector employee union pensions. The other reason is that in order to continue paying the generous pensions, voters/taxpayers are being asked to raise taxes on people making $45,000 a year to pay for more generous benefits for people making $65,000 a year. In addition to better pension plans (i.e. lifetime defined benefit retirement pensions with COLAs), government union workers also get better health care plans, greater job protections, and higher salaries than non-government workers. That is simply not acceptable to middle America. This is a solid issue to blunt talk of "income inequality". This is income inequality created by government and liberal politicians who pick winners and losers and favor special interests. It puts conservatives (and rational liberals) on the common sense side of fighting for middle America, and reveals the most extreme big-gov't liberals for what they are. It's a great issue to champion. Just be prepared...the unions will hate you. But they already do, don't they?
Sutton’s Place: Obama sounds midterm alarms for Democrats
Steven Sutton
May 13, 2014
Sutton’s Place: Obama sounds midterm alarms for Democrats
Many graduates of LI political training have asked if the Institute provides follow up to the sessions on strategy and messaging. To provide for a way to continue your education in this important area, LI will provide a new feature and service --- an occasional commentary called "Sutton's Place," written by LI's Vice President of Development Steven Sutton, on current campaign messaging and strategy. Here's another Washington Post article (this one from March 12, 2014) which details the left's strategic plans for 2014: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obama-warns-democrats-beware-another-midterm-election-defeat-like-2010/2014/03/11/88eb3348-a94a-11e3-8599-ce7295b6851c_story.html It should come as no surprise to anyone exactly what the left will be doing this year, both politically and legislatively (which is the same thing to the left …remember, as far as the left is concerned, governing is simply politics by other means). The left understands that to have an impact on a large enough scale to matter, they need to announce their strategies far and wide. So if you keep your eyes and ears open (or continue to read these commentaries) you will know exactly what they are doing, when they are doing it, and why they are doing it. According to the Post article, “A White House official said Obama will do whatever he can to maximize turnout – working to get the Democratic base out.” With that as the backdrop for the president's actions this year, what do you think the chances are for the Keystone Pipeline, for example, to be approved this year? The merits of the project are irrelevant. There is simply zero chance that the president will risk upsetting his base by approving Keystone this year. Doing what is best for the country, economy, and for energy independence (especially if it goes against a core constituency in your political base) requires leadership. Yet for a president who always puts politics ahead of policy, this decision is a no-brainer. This president puts his political party's interests ahead of America's interests time and time again. More from the article: “White House officials say his (Obama's) most important role will be drawing clear contrasts between the parties on the minimum wage, college affordability, pay parity and other bread-and-butter Democratic issues.” One official was quoted as saying, “The president can set the terms of the electoral debate and lay out a unifying economic message for Democrats.” That is why you have seen (and will continue to see) votes in the Senate on the minimum wage, pay parity, “income inequality” and other issues designed exclusively and cynically to promote a political message. It is not a policy agenda so much as it is a political agenda (once again, to the left, those two are the same thing). Note the final paragraph of this article. Congressman Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) says, “If you're a Democrat who cares about our future, the stakes are high – whether it's raising the minimum wage or making sure that women earn equal pay for equal work…” Right on message (and repeated by a willing mainstream media reporter on page three of the Washington Post…gotta make sure everyone in the left's coalition knows what the message is, after all). If you want to stay most up-to-date on the left's 2014 messaging and political agenda, you may want to simply go to Congressman Steve Israel's website (or that of the DCCC). You can be sure that their message, and the issues they will use to advance that message, will be prominently displayed there. Prior to joining the Leadership Institute, Steven Sutton was a chief of staff in the House of Representatives for more than 14 years, where he specialized in setting up Congressional offices for four different incoming freshmen Members. He has also managed numerous political campaigns from city council to U.S. Congress, specializing in challenger campaigns. As a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Steve has a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering with many interesting stories to boot! As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, the Leadership Institute does not oppose or endorse any faculty opinions such as Steve's thoughts above, or any legislation, candidate, or elected official. LI offers more than 41 types of training programs, works with more than 1,589 conservative campus groups on colleges across the country, and helps employers connect with conservative jobseekers. Since the Institute's 1979 founding, more than 146,000 conservative activists, students, and leaders have been trained. Graduates include members of Congress, state legislators, local officials, media personalities, and conservative organization leaders. For more information, please visit: www.LeadershipInstitute.org
SUTTON'S PLACE: A place for current trends in campaign messaging and strategy
Steven Sutton
May 1, 2014
SUTTON'S PLACE: A place for current trends in campaign messaging and strategy
Many graduates of Leadership Institute (LI) political training have asked if LI provides any follow up to the sessions on strategy and messaging. To provide for a way to continue your education in this important area, LI will provide a new feature and service --- an occasional commentary called "Sutton's Place," written by LI's Vice President of Development Steven Sutton, on current campaign messaging and strategy. Welcome to Sutton's Place...a small slice of campaign strategy and messaging heaven. The purpose of Sutton's Place is to continue the education you received at a Leadership Institute training school. Hope you find it interesting, educational, and complimentary to your LI training. We start off the first of these commentaries with an article which appeared recently in the Washington Post entitled, House Democrats plot strategy against long odds to win back chamber. Click here for the full Washington Post article. This article reports on an "annual retreat at a resort on Maryland's Eastern Shore." Both major political parties have these annual retreats, but the Democrats appear to actually discuss strategy and messaging in a disciplined way that results in attempts by their leaders and rank and file members to coordinate and implement a strategic message that they articulate to voters. As the article reports, House Democrats developed and refined the following theme for the 2014 elections: As stated by Congressman Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee...the DCCC, the Dems will champion "building an economy that works for everyone and not just special interests." Other Dem Members state: "The majority is supposed to...move us forward..." There's that word again..."forward." "If Republicans shirk their responsibility...we're ready to lead." "Dem unity will give voters a clear choice...More obstruction...or get something done." You can see the beginning of a clear theme, but there are some big problems with it. It will be very difficult for Dems to make the case that they will "lead" when their political leader (President Obama) has shown himself to be the weakest leader/President since Jimmy Carter (now there's an interesting way for the GOP to message back on this). Another problem is that the very high "wrong track" polling numbers suggest that Americans don't want to be led in the direction suggested by the left. And another problem is that this message is unlikely to sufficiently motivate the left's base to come out to vote this year, and that is the challenge and goal for the left. Negatives (such as fear) are more powerful motivators. The above themes are simply not strong enough to motivate their base. That suggests (once they realize this) that things will get much more confrontational/negative as Election Day nears. This retreat was held earlier this year (in February). I sense a shift in the left's strategy since then (more on that in a future Sutton's Place article). Prior to joining the Leadership Institute, Steven Sutton was a chief of staff in the House of Representatives for more than 14 years, where he specialized in setting up Congressional offices for four different incoming freshmen Members. He has also managed numerous political campaigns from city council to U.S. Congress, specializing in challenger campaigns. As a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Steve has a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering with many interesting stories to boot! As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, the Leadership Institute does not oppose or endorse any faculty opinions such as Steve's thoughts above, or any legislation, candidate, or elected official. LI offers more than 41 types of training programs, works with more than 1,589 conservative campus groups on colleges across the country, and helps employers connect with conservative jobseekers. Since the Institute's 1979 founding, more than 146,000 conservative activists, students, and leaders have been trained. Graduates include members of Congress, state legislators, local officials, media personalities, and conservative organization leaders. For more information, please visit: www.LeadershipInstitute.org