I do not live in a blue state. I live in a state in which the majority of votes have been counted for Democrats. That is going to change.
And it will start with me.
Every vote is important. We hear that said all the time. But do we really mean it?
Over the last several election cycles at least, and probably long before that, the guiding philosophy has been to win just the number of districts or states to get over the top.
Republican strategists have given lip service to wanting every vote, and followed this basic strategy:
- We have our safe areas
- They have their safe areas
- We will focus our resources on the winnable areas in between.
This targeting strategy was followed at the macro level, ceding the Northeast and California, and all the way down to the precinct level. We focused on swing states, swing districts, swing counties, and winnable precincts. If you happened to live around too many Democrats, we abandoned you to them.
We have the results of that short-term thinking today, with Republicans in "blue" states thinking they need to be liberals to win. Or if they were already liberal, we have given them no reason to change, to become conservatives.
There are several serious problems with the targeting strategy:
- It tacitly presupposes that the electorate is static
The electorate is constantly changing, as people are constantly aging, growing up, and becoming natural Republican voters. And following long-term economic and demographic trends, as well as the deleterious effects of having Democrats in office, people tend to flee those Democrat-controlled areas for Republican ones where the jobs are.
But if they've always voted Democrat, and we never talk to them, then Democrat they remain.
- It plays to liberal strengths
There are more conservatives than liberals in America, by a factor of two to one. But liberals are generally younger and more willing to devote time to their stupid causes. The less territory they have to defend, the more successful they will be.
We, on the other hand, have more people and can defend more territory -- if we can mobilize those people.
- It cedes territory to liberal indoctrination, intimidation, and control
When we put liberals in charge and do not challenge them at the ballot box, they grow bolder. The people come to accept the level of corruption and bureaucratic disease with which they are infested. If there are any Republicans in office, their goal is merely to go along and get along, knowing that a soft complaint and a rousing speech around election time is the best they can do.
- It leads to deterioration and decay in party structure
Those elected Republicans in the areas abandoned to Democrat control cannot recruit members into the party structure. They cannot adequately raise funds. They have no hope to change minds. They live in Democrat land.
- It alienates voters
By focusing on certain winnable areas we send the message to the voters in the other areas that we don't care about their votes. When this happens election cycle after election cycle, there is no other inference to be drawn than that Republicans don't like the voters in the areas in which we don't compete.
- It ignores coattails
But perhaps the biggest reason the strategy is poor is it fails on its own terms. In focusing so heavily on winnable districts, we lose votes in other races up and down the ticket.
In most elections there are local, state, and national races on the ballot. Advertising and getting out the vote for state and national candidates brings along voters who will cast ballots for local candidates, as well.
And even more importantly, local races can bring out voters who will cast ballots for our state and national candidates, as well. If we fail to canvas and encourage them to vote in local races, they will be less likely to vote for the races up ticket. And if we fail even to place candidates on the ballot for local races, there is no way even to do that.
Never cede territory. Never say a district belongs to Democrats as their rightful possession. Make them work for every single precinct.
Make them spend money defending "safe" seats. Make them campaign.
Never say they own an issue, profession, or industry. Make them work to hold every union, every state, every water cooler.
Become a precinct committeeman. Learn the people in your precinct -- how they vote, and what their hot buttons are.
We didn't get here in one election, and we won't get where we want to go with one, or even two. But we must begin to retake our country by retaking our neighborhoods. Learn how at the Concord Project.