2012 – Why Republicans Lost. And What They Must Learn to Do…IF They Want to Recover.
Now that Barak Obama has been reelected, the usual flurry of excuse-making and finger-pointing by Republicans has been even more intense than usual.
“Democrats cheated!” – So what else is new? They always cheat. So get a big enough margin and it won’t matter. Democrats cheated when Reagan won 49 states. Who cared?
“Obama spent millions on vicious attack ads!” – Once again, this is news? Despite the public’s claim that they don’t like them, attack ads work. So develop better ads than theirs.
“It was Romney’s 47% remark!” – Beside the fact that what Romney said turned out to be absolutely accurate, so what? Democrats will always get a free pass from the media for the most outrageous comments, while every less-than-elegant word spoken by any Republican (even in private) WILL be splashed all over the airwaves – accept it.
“Conservative ‘purists’ stayed home!” – True, a fair number of the pro-life, anti-gay marriage, and Ron Paul types refused to participate, but again, if you’d gotten enough votes to offset their temper tantrum, you would have still won.
“It’s all the fault of social conservatives!” – The unutterably stupid Todd Akin aside, blaming the loss only on social conservatives is just another scapegoating effort. That being said, even on this issue, when Romney and Republicans didn’t know how to counter the “War on Women” rhetoric with persuasive messages of their own, the end was inevitable.
And while some positions (decriminalizing marijuana for example) have some merit, throwing out social conservatives is not the answer. Democrats never dumped their anti-gun constituents – they simply got them to fly under the radar (and retained their votes).
And of course, last but not least:
“The Press was in the tank for Obama and the Democrats!” – Hey, the press is LIBERAL. Get over it. Unless and until you get enough capital to buy out all the major TV networks, as well as all the major newspapers, you’ll just have to live with it.
But the real question is: With a horrible economy, soaring food and gas prices, millions on food stamps, not to mention suspicious scandals like “Fast and Furious” and the Libyan debacle, how on earth did Barak Obama get reelected, especially just two years after the unprecedented Republican tsunami in the 2010 mid-term election? Why, after almost 4 years of massive deficits and staggering debt, all of it racked up by Obama and the Democrats, did an astonishing 50+% of voters say they still blamed the economy on George Bush? How is that even possible?
The answer is simply that Democrats are better at marketing than Republicans.
An old Chicago political friend of my father once summed it up nicely: “Republicans insist on talking to voters as if they are giving a presentation to a board of directors – Democrats speak as if they are delivering a summation to a jury.”
What he meant was that Republicans think that facts will win the day. Ridiculous – Democrats know that you have to couch your message in vivid, simplistic, and emotional language that reaches the majority of Americans who are neither politically active, nor economically astute.
Look at how the Left has sold their message for the last 50 years. They relentlessly demonize “the rich” and “big business” – the very people who employ most of American workers. They tell the “little guys” (which includes black and Latino voters, of course) that they are “victims” of “the 1%” and therefore have a “right” to a certain standard of living. How Democrats will provide this utopian vision is never clearly explained – other than that they will be sure to “tax those fat cats” to the hilt.
Then there is the brilliantly conceived (pun intended) “War on Women” – the fact that liberal policies have put more women into poverty matters not one bit. By positioning women as victims, and portraying themselves as “saviors” and “protectors” of their “rights” (free stuff), Democrats got the votes of a huge percentage of single women. But again, it wasn’t their policies, it was their emotional language that sealed the deal.
Public schools, from elementary to the university, inundate your kids with “global warming” propaganda that has them thinking that America’s prosperity is “killing the polar bears” and “destroying the environment.” And if you think this is not happening in your child’s school, you are mistaken. Even private parochial schools have jumped on the “green” bandwagon. I recently drove by a Catholic elementary school promoting “Global Warming Day.”
Once again, the facts are that in spite of massive increases in industrial output worldwide, and a billion more people on the planet, global temperatures have not budged in nearly 15 years. But that does not matter. The anti-prosperity “green” propaganda rolls on unabated.
The Left also has an army of Hollywood writers, producers, and actors who pepper nearly every movie and TV show (from dramas to sit-coms) with left-leaning propaganda messages. Note the snide remarks that are regularly made by a character about “the rich” or how often the villain is a corporation doing something evil.
Just DAYS before the election, in an episode of NCIS-LA, there were two political candidates running for local office. Their party affiliation is not identified. However, one was a young, nice looking, Hispanic woman who, we are told (oh-so-adoringly by the pretty NCIS agent) “supports the ‘Occupy’ movement” and “wants to build ‘affordable’ housing for the poor” – if that’s not enough, one of the major characters opines, “sounds like someone worth voting for.” Meanwhile, her opponent just happens to be a balding, older white guy who makes lewd suggestive remarks to the aforementioned female NCIS agent, and is “funded by big donors” – gosh, is there a message in there somewhere?
The show “Leverage” is based almost entirely on a team of “good guys” battling “evil corporations” who are “taking advantage” of some absurdly tear-jerking victim (“single-mother-whose-child-got-cancer-from-your-products-because-you-intentionally-hid-the-damning-test-results”). If you watched it regularly, you would get the idea that every business executive in America spends his free time trying to figure out how to make products that kill children and old people.
Now, just about everything the America Left stands for is either factually wrong or economically insane, but that is beside the point. It is the way that they sell their message – relentlessly, forcefully, and using language that is simple, vivid, and emotional – that carries the day with enough voters to make the difference. Even when the “product” is flawed – in this case an ever increasing, dictatorial nanny state – the right marketing campaign works.
Thus the answer for Republicans is not to continue trying to be more “moderate” in their policies (which has never worked). In fact, if they want to survive as a party, today’s Republicans had better get back to the kinds of conservative principles that have always worked. But then they must learn how to “sell” capitalism and smaller government using the kind of language that everyone can understand. And, please, quit apologizing for the free market policies that have proven to work, both here and around the world.
After Obama’s endless attacks on the “top 2% of the wealthiest Americans” where was the justifiable counter-punch from Republicans? Why has not ONE Republican leader defended the top job creators? Why is even the word “capitalism” seemingly forbidden in the Republican playbook? Surely with it’s record of success throughout history, free market capitalism should be downright easy to vigorously promote, let alone meekly defend.
For a superb example of how you do this, I suggest you Google “Milton Friedman on Phil Donahue” – Friedman’s one-hour appearance in the 1970s is divided into five segments, but it is well worth watching the entire program. He calmly explains in simple, easily understood language, precisely and persuasively how free market capitalism is unequaled in its ability to provide prosperity to more people than any other system in history, and why it is always demonstrably superior to government controlled economies (i.e. – socialism). Simply brilliant.
We can do it. It’s been done before. Reagan did it. The Tea Party did it. Margaret Thatcher did it.
Yes, the forces aligned against the free market and limited government are formidable, but unless Republicans learn, and learn quickly, how to market their message to women, to minorities, and to the public at large, we are all going to find ourselves in a country that none of us will recognize…and the change will not be positive.
11/17/2012 – Update: The commentary on this piece has devolved into a discussion on “gay marriage” and other social policy issues. Those are perfectly legitimate topics for another day – this posting is about how to MARKET the party’s policies (whatever they eventually turn out to be). Try to keep on topic, please.