Cain: Today, you are launching a new conservative media outlet called Rare. There are a lot of publications in that market already. What is Rare going to offer that’s different?
Decker: Rare is going to distinguish itself in tone, technology and scope of issues covered. We’re going to reach far beyond politics and heavily cover pop culture and lifestyle issues so conservative readers can find everything they want in one place. We are investing in amazing interactive technology that will engage our audience like nothing found anywhere else in the center-right media. And although less tangible, we’re going to try to keep it fresh and edgy. We want Rare readers to feel like they’re being informed and having fun at the same time.
Cain: You’re very conservative down the line on just about everything. As editor-in-chief, how will your views be reflected in Rare’s editorial positions?
Decker: Rare is going to be a platform for open discussion and debate. Like millions of Americans, I was depressed after the outcome of the 2012 election. The economy was in the toilet, Obama’s popularity was low – just about any challenger should have been able to beat any incumbent in such a climate. Yet Republicans blew it in a campaign that failed across the board. As Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus admitted, “Our message was weak; our ground game was insufficient; we weren’t inclusive; we were behind in both data and digital; our primary and debate process needed improvement.” After such an epic failure in the face of so much opportunity, it’s time for everybody in the center-right to get together and figure out what went wrong. Conservatives and libertarians need to hammer out what the essence of our movement is and how that should be communicated in a way that is appealing to a majority of Americans. Rare will facilitate the conversation and make sure that the many varied “conservatarian” constituencies are involved. In that way, Rare won’t be pushing a hard top-down editorial line. Rare’s voice will be a collection of voices, with mine being one of them.
Cain: Who is Brett Decker? What did you do before this new job at the helm of Rare?
Decker: My previous experience formed me for this challenge to lead Rare, a new complex outlet being created from the ground-up. I had the best mentors in journalism in columnist Robert D. Novak, Washington Times editor Tony Blankley, Wall Street Journal editor Bob Bartley, National Journalism Center founder M. Stanton Evans, Eagle Publishing’s Tom Phillips and Philip Merrill, who owed the Washingtonian magazine and the Annapolis Capital newspaper. Their example taught me what makes an attractive story and how credibility is based on sound reporting. I learned more about the sausage-making mechanics of politics in Tom DeLay’s whip operation in Congress and did heavy management lifting as a senior vice president at the Export-Import Bank and Pentagon Federal Credit Union. Before moving to Washington, I worked in the bodyshop on the late-shift building Lincolns at a Michigan Ford factory. Working on the assembly line was a lot like meeting publication deadlines in journalism: As soon as you’re done with a job, the next one is coming down at you a few seconds later. I’ve got the best gig in the world now and am rarin’ to go.
Cain: What formed your conservative thinking? Did any intellectual influences have a special impact on your worldview?
Decker: My personal views mirror the diversity of opinion that exists on the right. I’m libertarian on a lot, a hawk on some things, a traditionalist here and there, a pragmatic on a few issues and your plain ole grandfather’s Republican in some ways. I grew up reading William F. Buckley Jr.’s National Review, R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.’s American Spectator, Forbes and a ton of car magazines. This built on an intellectual foundation that came from Catholic writers ranging from medieval philosopher St. Thomas Aquinas to 19th century Cardinal Manning and cynical 20th century novelist Evelyn Waugh. So I guess my worldview was formed by everything between the New Testament and Car and Driver.
Cain: America is at a crossroads in so many ways. What do you worry about when you can’t sleep at night?
Decker: Sen. Jeff Sessions of the Budget Committee estimates that the national debt will surpass $25 trillion in the next 10 years. This millstone around the neck of the U.S. economy will weigh down the competitiveness of our businesses and undermine our position of strength in the world. We cannot remain the freest and most powerful country on earth when we are the world’s largest debtor. As America declines, other less benevolent powers like China and Russia will fill the vacuum, and that’s bad for everybody. Our biggest enemy is ourselves. If we live within our means, no one can challenge us. If government doesn’t get spending under control, it’s all over.
Herman Cain is the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, president of the National Restaurant Association and was a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. He is a nationally syndicated radio host for Cox Media Group, the parent company of Rare.