If You Only Read One Political Column All Month…

….make it this one by my old boss, David Horowitz. It’s lengthy, but worth reading in full and distributing to as many people as possible. Many have tried to diagnose why Republicans lost in 2012 and what they can do to win again, but Horowitz has written the definitive assessment on the subject, and laid out what I believe to be the only likely path to saving the country from liberal ascendance. 
In a nutshell, Horowitz contends that the Democrats won because they know how to manipulate emotion, and Republicans have no idea how to respond. The solution is essentially to recognize what the Democrats really are and develop the fortitude to respond with the appropriate level of bluntness and moral outrage, demonstrating and standing up for the victims of the Left’s policies. Some representative quotes from the piece:
“An exit poll conducted by CNN asked, ‘What is the most important candidate quality to your vote?’ Among the four choices were, ‘Strong Leader,’ ‘Shares Your Values,’ ‘Has A Vision for the Future,’ and ‘Cares about People.’ Romney won the first three by more than 54%. But he lost ‘Cares About People’ by 81-18%. That says it all.”

[…]

“Behind the failures of Republican campaigns lies an attitude that is administrative rather than combative. It focuses on policies rather than politics. It is more comfortable with budgets and pie charts than with the flesh and blood victims of their opponents’ policies. When Republicans do mention victims they are frequently small business owners and other ‘job creators’ – people who in the eyes of most Americans are rich.

“To counter the Democrat attacks on them as defenders of the comfortable and afflicters of the weak, Republicans really have only one answer: This is a misunderstanding. Look at the facts. We’re not that bad. On the infrequent occasions when they actually take the battle to their accusers, Republicans will say: That’s divisive. It’s class warfare.

“Even if voters were able to ‘look at the facts,’ these are not exactly inspiring responses. They are defensive, and they are whiny, and also complicated. Of course elections are divisive – that is their nature. One side gets to win and the other side loses. But even more troublesome is the fact that responses like this require additional information and lengthy explanations to make sense. Appeals to reason are buried in the raucous noise that is electoral politics. Sorting out the truth would be a daunting task, even if voters were left alone to make up their minds.”

[…]

“The only way to confront the emotional campaign that Democrats wage in every election is through an equally emotional campaign that puts the aggressors on the defensive; that attacks them in the same moral language, identifying them as the bad guys, the oppressors of women, children, minorities and the middle class, that takes away from them the moral high ground which they now occupy. You can’t confront an emotionally based moral argument with an intellectual analysis. Yet this is basically and almost exclusively what Republicans do.”

[…]

“Republicans seem to think the way to inspire hope is by offering voters practical solutions, such as Paul Ryan’s plan to balance the budget. Paul Ryan is a smart conservative and the Ryan Plan is probably a good one. But with control only of the House, Republicans had no chance of implementing it when they voted on it. Worse, in the real world of political combat, facing an unscrupulous opposition, a plan offered by a party with no means of implementing it is a self-­inflicted wound. You can’t put the plan into effect to show that it works, and no one besides policy wonks is going to even begin to understand it. All the plan does is provide the spinners with multiple targets to shoot at – something they will do by distorting the specifics and ignoring the plan itself. For virtually all voters, the plan will be so complicated and its details so obscure that it will remain invisible. Only those who already trust its designers will be persuaded that this is a reason to vote for them.”

[…]

“The way for Republicans to show they care about minorities is to defend them against their oppressors and exploiters, which in every major inner city in America without exception are Democrats. Democrats run the welfare and public education systems; they have created the policies that ruin the lives of the recipients of their handouts. It’s time that Republicans started to hold Democrats to account; to put them on the defensive and take away the moral high ground, which they now occupy illegitimately. Government welfare is not just wasteful; it is destructive. The public school system in America’s inner cities is not merely ineffective; it is racist and criminal.”
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Taking the Conservative Message Beyond the Blogosphere

Glenn Reynolds has a great New York Post editorial brainstorming how Republicans could make their money go further in reaching voters:
One of the groups with whom Romney did worst was female “low-information voters.” Those are women who don’t really follow politics, and vote based on a vague sense of who’s mean and who’s nice, who’s cool and who’s uncool.
Since, by definition, they don’t pay much attention to political news, they get this sense from what they do read. And for many, that’s traditional women’s magazines — Redbook, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, the Ladies Home Journal, etc. — and the newer women’s sites like YourTango, The Frisky, Yahoo! Shine, and the like. 
The thing is, those magazines and Web sites see themselves, pretty consciously, as a propaganda arm of the Democratic Party. So while nine out of 10 articles may be the usual stuff on sex, diet and shopping, the 10th will always be either soft p.r. for the Democrats or soft — or sometimes not-so-soft — hits on Republicans.
When a flier about getting away with rape was found in a college men’s bathroom, the women’s site YourTango (“Your Best Love Life”) led with the fact that the college was Paul Ryan’s alma materin a transparent effort to advance the Democrats’ War on Women claim that Republicans are somehow pro-rape. A companion article was “12 Hot Older Men Who Endorse President Obama.” 
The solution:
For $150 million, you could buy or start a lot of women’s Web sites. And I’d hardly change a thing in the formula. The nine articles on sex, shopping and exercise could stay the same. The 10th would just be the reverse of what’s there now. 
For the pro-Republican stuff, well, just visit the “Real Mitt Romney” page at snopes.com, or look up the time Mitt Romney rescued a 14-year-old kidnap victim, to see the kind of feel-good stories that could have been running. For the others, well, it would run articles on whether Bill Clinton should get a pass on his affairs, whether it’s right that the Obama White House pays women less than men, and reports on how the tax system punishes women. 
This stuff writes itself, probably more easily than the Spin Sisters’ pabulum. And opening up a major beachhead in this section of the media is probably a lot cheaper than challenging major newspapers and TV networks head on. 
This is a great start, but it should be taken much further. 
God bless Fox News, the blogosphere, talk radio, and conservative magazines. I shudder to think of how bad things would be if we didn’t have so many people working round the clock to counter the mainstream media. 
But while the Right’s alternative media has dented the Left’s narrative, it still can’t outweigh it, and never will in its current form, for the simple fact that these outlets only reach people who proactively look for them, or are led there by someone else. That segment of the population is pretty much baked in to the country’s political makeup at this point – the people who really hunger for truth will find it one way or another, and there will always be a big segment of the population whose political information consumption, for various reasons, never extends far beyond their morning paper and the six-o’clock news. Such voters will never actively seek out Breitbart.com or National Review because they aren‘t interested in digging any deeper, and have no idea they shouldn’t be content with what they’ve got.

So if we can’t pin our hopes on getting more people to come to us, we have to figure out how to go to them – to get the key facts and our unfiltered ideas in the places they’re already going and seeing and watching. And though it might be heresy in this Internet-infatuated day and age, I think that means taking a hard, fresh look at traditional advertising.  
There are scores of bite-sized, eye-opening facts – like the terrifying words of Obama Administration officials, the more-thanfair share of the tax burden the rich really pay, the utter uselessness of Uncle Sam’s spending spree in alleviating poverty or improving education, or the astonishing waste and duplication in the federal bureaucracy, just to name a few – that many voters are completely unaware of, and would significantly change their political assumptions if only they knew. And outfits like Prager University and Learn Liberty expertly demonstrate how conservative principles can be explained in just a few minutes of airtime.
How different might things be if we made a real effort to expose the general public to this? Imagine debt warnings or liberty arguments during the commercial breaks of American Idol, 60 Minutes, or Monday Night Football. Quotes from Obama czars bluntly saying they want to run our lives posted on billboards an entire city sees on their way to work. Real reports on Benghazi or debunkings of media smears in full-page newspaper ads. 
I understand there are a lot of costs and hurdles associated with making such a project happen, but new thinking and new strategies are desperately needed to reach new audiences. If you build it, they won’t necessarily come, but if you go there, they will see.

Wisconsin Schools Are Doing Great. GOP Messaging? Not So Much

Today, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker released the following graph, based on data that the kind souls at the Wisconsin Education Association Council tried to hide from the public, on the condition of our state’s public schools:
Reforms Working.png
In all four categories – teacher layoffs, class size, retention of extracurricular activities, and retention of fine arts and vocational programs – the teachers union’s own data shows that a higher percentage of school districts are doing well (in two cases, a drastically higher percentage) under Walker’s much-demonized collective bargaining reforms than not only the average for the previous decade, but for that category’s best year in the previous decade.
Add that to what we’ve known for over a year about the benefits teachers will still enjoy under Act 10, not to mention the recent revelation that Wisconsin taxpayers still pay them more than do taxpayers of the surrounding states, and the whole point of the recall collapses. But a narrow majority of voters still say they’d vote Walker out of office.
How can that be? Simple: because the Republicans are doing a lousy job of informing the people. The Left is relentlessly pushing Big Union’s lies through the schools, through the press, and through thuggery, and what advertising the Walker Campaign and the GOP have done in response barely even begins to compensate for the dishonesty.
Why isn’t the above chart in full-page newspaper ads across the state? Why aren’t the success stories from around the state on television every night? Why aren’t graphic comparisons of public and private-sector benefits on billboards throughout Wisconsin? I fear our party leaders are putting far too much faith in talk radio and social media to do the educational heavy lifting for them, content that they can get away with simply fundraising, rallying the faithful, and preaching to the choir.
That’s a recipe for disaster. The people we need to reach, the people who will make the difference come Election Day, aren’t listening to Charlie Sykes or Mark Belling. They don’t have Twitter feeds for conservative reports to show up in. They aren’t glued to the blogosphere. The only way Republicans can get the truth to them is by taking it to where they’re going to be: the commercial breaks of American Idol, the pages of their local paper, the airwaves of their favorite music stations, the billboards along the highways they take to work.
Comforting though it might be for conservatives to think otherwise, talk radio is not equal time. The blogosphere hasn’t created a fundamentally more informed populace. And Scott Walker’s personal goodness will not be enough to save his job in independent voters’ eyes. If we lose this thing, Wisconsin’s Republican elite will have nobody to blame but themselves.