“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.”
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.”
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.
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.
From the outrages he let Barack Obama get away with to the stunning ineptitude of his campaign team, Mitt Romney holds plenty of blame for last week’s dispiriting presidential election. But he’s not the only one, and before we do something stupid like surrender on immigration in a shortsighted bid to woo Hispanics, the Right needs to have a little chat about another key voting bloc that should have been far easier to hold…but wasn’t, for reasons conservatives seem unwilling to discuss.
The single most shocking detail about the results was the pitiful Republican turnout, with Romney receiving 3 million fewer GOP votes than John McCain and 5 million fewer than George W. Bush — a difference that could have overcome Tuesday’s 3-million-person difference in the popular vote or made up the 333,000 additional votes necessary for an Electoral College win.
Yes, Romney’s conservatism was imperfect. But so was Bush’s. And McCain? He was so liberal that, to keep him away from the nomination and ensure a conservative made it on the ballot, the punditocracy told us we had to rally around…Mitt Romney.
So how could Romney — who, for all his flaws, took most of the right positions, had an appealing background, and didn’t share Bush or McCain’s zeal for amnesty — possibly be less palatable than either of his moderate predecessors? Especially while trying to unseat someone widely considered to be the worst, most left-wing president in US history?
A big part of the answer is because somewhere between GOP presidential primaries, half the Right flip-flopped on Romney, recasting their onetime conservative alternative as the new RINO boogeyman we needed an alternative from, with scores of pundits, activists, and bloggers ranting that an amorphous party “establishment” was trying to force Romney on the base. Yes, politics is a tough business and primaries are the place for aggressively vetting our candidates, but far too many of our own crossed the line from “Romney is weak in area x” to “Romney is our enemy.”
Tea Party Nation head Judson Phillips and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said they’d focus on congressional races because Romney wasn’t worth their members’ excitement. Sen. Rick Santorum suggested Romney might not be different enough from Obama to bother changing presidents. Talk radio host Mark Levin excoriated Romney daily, calling him a corporatist of questionable character who couldn’t be supported in the primary without compromising all of one’s principles. Blogger Dan Riehl considered organizing conservatives to oppose Romney in the general election. Free Republic banned all Romney supporters as “enemies of the Constitution.” Blogger John Hawkins warned that supporting Romney would require conservatives to “sell our souls.” RedState.com waged an all-out war against Romney and his sympathizers, the most hysterical examples of which being Erick Erickson’s claim that nominating the bad Mormon would kill conservatism and Thomas Crown’s accusation that National Review “alienated” itself from the conservative movement by preferring Romney to the alternatives. Conservative stalwarts like Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan got torn apart as phonies in popular comment sections for backing Romney. And last month, Personhood USA used an unfair spin on Romney’s words as evidence that he was “insisting on maintaining the status quo of abortion on demand.”
Fast-forward to Election Day, and 5 million Republican voters decide to stay home.
Gee, who could have guessed? (I mean, besides me.)
Again, we shouldn’t completely absolve Romney of responsibility. As the candidate, it was his job to assure the base he could walk the walk. Nor should Romney’s shortcomings have gone ignored or unchallenged during the primary.
But with so many influential conservative voices doing everything they could to convince their audiences that Romney was just Diet Obama and that he posed an existential threat to their very philosophy, is it any wonder that so many of them decided not to vote? How is any post-primary coalescing supposed to fully heal divisions that deep? How are Republican candidates supposed to endure two-front wars against Democrats and their own base?
Rather than protect the integrity of the Republican ticket, Levin, Erickson, Perkins, and company served as useful idiots for the Left, dividing conservatives enough for a weak incumbent with indefensible ideas and hated policies to keep power for another four years. And now we’re all going to suffer for it.
It goes without saying that for 2016, we’ll need to find a candidate with bolder instincts, a deeper affinity for conservatism, and greater skill in articulating it. But by the time his own failings and impurities come to light, hopefully Obama’s second term will have taught our Purity Police that a little perspective can make a world of difference.
Every now and then, pro-lifers need to step back and reassess the effectiveness of their tactics. Laura Ingraham Show associate producer Dustin Siggins offers just such a critique at leading conservative blog Hot Air. His advice is well worth considering, though not every point hits home.First, he suggests eschewing mandatory ultrasound laws in favor of restrictive medical standards like Mississippi recently passed:
[U]ltrasound legislation can be deemed as guilting mothers into not aborting their children or invading personal privacy. However, it is more difficult to argue against raising the standards of medical clinics so that women have a more sterile, more professional environment in which to be treated. Yes, the left will still attack these standards, as the owner of the abortion clinic in Mississippi has, but the inherent controversy will be far less.Clinic standards may very well have more strategic potential than ultrasound laws, but we should be careful not to fall into the habit of letting our foes define the terms of the debate. Conceding by silence that mandatory ultrasounds are demeaning to women or any more invasive of privacy than the abortion itself will only embolden the pro-aborts. If you give ‘em an inch…
- Romney & Santorum will probably be roughly equal on defense, abortion, taxes, marriage, judges, and immigration.
- Romney will probably be somewhat better on spending/entitlements, though whether he’ll be aggressive enough remains questionable.
- Santorum is right that he’d campaign much more effectively against ObamaCare (though I trust both to repeal it). ObamaCare and RomneyCare can be sufficiently distinguished to neutralize the issue for Mitt, but Romney himself needs to do it – and so far, he hasn’t.
- Both candidates are gaffe-prone & have trouble refuting false narratives, though I’m unsure which will be a bigger liability: “Santorum as theocrat” or “Romney as corporate fatcat.”
My first RedState post:
As many of us celebrated the birth of our nation this weekend, our pride and gratitude were tempered by the fear that America might have a dwindling number of future Independence Days to look forward to. A survey of the political landscape reveals that such pessimism regarding the survival of our Founding principles and institutions is not without cause.
The Left’s cancerous influence over our politics, media, and culture remains widespread, and the Right’s efforts in curing it leave much to be desired:
- Over one million unborn children are slaughtered every year, yet when the Susan B. Anthony List asks those running to be the nation’s next president for the most basic and mild of pro-life promises, National Review decides they ask too much. Reason’s Matt Welch claims that only 30% of professed libertarians apply their philosophy of liberty and unalienable right to those most in need of their protection.
- Despite all the this-time-we-really-mean-it promises from Republicans after their 2010 victory, it’s still doubtful that the GOP has the fortitude or savvy to right our fiscal ship. Speaker John Boehner settled for a budget deal that began with far smaller spending cuts than America needs and turned out to be far, far less than even the announced numbers. Signs of further disappointment suggest the GOP still hasn’t kicked its addiction to compromise.