Fixing Our Coalition: What we need to do to win in ’16
Ok… Romney lost. Got it.
Can’t change it… Can’t un-do it, and monday-morning QBing the general election won’t help us any: Obama won’t be the other side’s candidate next time.
2014 is largely going to be a contest to see who gets blamed for nothing getting done… It’s unlikely we’ll see any significant movement (better or worse) in the economy between now and then…
Which brings us to 2016. How do we avoid repeating 2012 in 2016?
Well, I’ll first give a quick list of what we do NOT do:
We do NOT cave on critical issues such as climate-change, amnesty, or foreign policy.
We do NOT sacrifice our social-conservative base (many of whom only vote over their issues) to reach out to rarely-voting liberal-minded 20-somethings…
And we do NOT become ‘severely conservative’ and rally behind the unelectable fringe (like the Tea Party’s ‘Bad News Bears’ or everyone in the Primaries who didn’t have past experience as a Governor)
So what DO we do?
Here’s a few ideas… Some from within the party, and some from the methods used by our opponents… But combined, they should allow us to win without compromising significantly on conservative principles.
ORGANIZATION AND TACTICS:
1) The Republican Party needs leadership & organization.
One of our biggest weaknesses, as a Party, is that we are an amorphous mass of individual, uncoordinated actors…
And we have been for quite some time now. Even with a Republican President in office – supposedly speaking for the party – getting the GOP to do something was still more like herding cats than the action of a disciplined & professional organization. This needs to be fixed. We need a leader, who can articulate an agenda, and get members of the party to fall in line – and who can back this agenda up with punitive measures against those who fail to follow it.
2) We need a party-wide message, with marketing-based, media-safe talking points.
This is another area where the Dems have us beat – largely due to the fact that they always have organized, coherent leadership.
Notice how the Democrats & their media allies all read from the same playbook & coordinate their message? Even in swing-states, the themes & the language stay the same…
We need to do that with OUR views. Contrary to the folks in the media, we don’t need to adopt/co-opt their ideology, but we SHOULD look at their tactics – particularly their marketing/PR coordination.
3) Candidate actions need to have consequences.
People like Michelle Bachmann are just as damaging to the GOP as any RINO. They need to be told to shut up & sit down, or lose influence. If it’s bad enough, they should face a party-funded primary challenger. Committee positions for these folks need to be pulled – there is no reason why seniority has to rule: If you are a ‘Bad Republican’ – either because you vote like a Democrat, or because you are a walking gaffe-machine, you should not be part of the leadership & should have no other task than to vote party-line on floor votes until you learn to behave.
As an added bonus, if we do this, when the Party tells a screw-up like Akin to ‘quit and let us replace you’, maybe that person will listen, and save us embarassing electoral defeats…
4) We need to OWN our primary process
The 2012 primaries were a train wreck.
Going by qualification-to-be-President, only 4 of the what, 9 candidates belonged on the ballot to begin with – 5 if you give Gingrich a bone for his past contributions to the Party.
Yes, because they had been Governor of a state (or were currently serving as the same)…
Going by ‘one candidate for each major Republican bloc’ would give us Romney (country-club), Perry (Southerners/’Normal’ conservatives), Santorum (Religious Right), and Huntsman (Libertarians/Westerners).
There was no reason for Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Michelle Bachmann, or any of the freak-show minor-players to be running, other than the complete and total disorder of the primary process providing them the chance at otherwise-unattainable publicity…
We then made things worse by giving EVERYONE a free microphone, inviting them all to the debates…
In the future, the Party needs to control who can run in the primaries, and beyond that needs to aggressively weed-out under-performing primary candidates by denying them debate-invitations & having our media allies shut them out on TV, print & radio… We need to make the Paul movement’s complaints a reality, and by doing so prevent fringe candidates from mucking up the primary process.
If you have less than 10% support, you should be barred from debates & party events. Ballot access rules should be harmonized, so that the party controls who is running in it’s own primaries (After all, a primary election is supposed to be for the members of a political party to choose their candidates – so logically the national committee of a given party should make up the ballot). Caucuses and un-pledged delegates need to be abolished.
The fact is, our best candidate in the 2012 primary (that would be Gov Perry), was knocked out of the race by snarky comments from a back-bencher (Bachmann) & a faction of the party (anti-immigration crowd) that has cost us more votes than they bring in…
Further, ‘everyone and his dead dog’ primaries allow the freaks & nuts free publicity, and they tarnish the entire brand with their insanity. Ron Paul, again, here’s looking at you on war, health-care and monetary policy.
This needs to stop, and only the RNC can stop it.
There’s been alot of comments about what we need to do with our platform…
The most common, is to align ourselves with the Dems on immigration amnesty & abortion… Others contend that we need to ‘persue the Youth vote’ and surrender to the Libertarian Insurgency… Or boot the social-conservatives out of the party…
There are problems with all of the above: Young people vote in very small numbers and most are both socially and fiscally liberal. Libertarians tend to be absolutists who won’t accept 50% of what they want, simply because giving the other side 1% is ‘immoral’. And while many of the ‘other legs’ of the stool will vote GOP even if they don’t get their way, many social conservatives only show up to vote over ‘their issues’.
That said, there is truth to the fact that our immigration position is the most horridly constructed & terrible of anything out there… And that a slightly more libertarian position (without actually giving up social conservatism, just redirecting it) is a good idea….
So, Here’s what will actually work:
The ‘Build a Wall, Deport ‘em All’ anti-ANY-immigration crowd has failed us in every election since 2004.
Each time, they promise us that ‘Illegal Immigration is the #1 issue’, and each time they are WRONG. The only thing they do, is play into the hands of Democrats, who claim that GOP immigration policy is just an extension of supposed GOP racisim.
You see, there are many, many ways to deal with the illegal immigration problem.
The GOP has become identified with the abjectly most offensive & operationally idiotic of all of them: attempting to build a ‘Great Wall of Mexico’, then rounding up immigration law violators and dumping them all on the other side.
It’s expensive. It actually does send the message that we don’t want Hispanic people in the country… And it is operationally impossible to actually make work!
So what’s the solution?
Simple: We need to become the party that loves immigration AND trade with Latin America, from anywhere & everywhere – so long as the immigrants play by the rules.
First off, the Dems have done a wonderful marketing job calling people who break immigration laws ‘undocumented immigrants’, as if it’s just a paperwork error.
Our preferred term, ‘illegal immigrant’ is easy to spin to ‘trying to outlaw a person’, or ‘anti-immigrant’. We can stop this, by using ‘immigration law violator’ or ‘immigration violator’ instead – evoking ‘cheater’ and ‘line-skipper’ rather than ‘unwanted person’….
This also means implementing all of NAFTA – allowing Mexican truckers into the US as agreed… It means voting to massively increase legal immigration, including work-visas (‘Guest Worker’ provisions)… And it means taking funds away from ‘border security’, and directing them to enforcing the employment laws & funding measures to identify and deport immigration violators who come in contact with state & federal corrections authorities….
This is NOT Amnesty. Immigration law will actually be better-enforced & illegal immigration will be lower under this system than it is now. However, the actual immigrants will have little to no contact with immigration enforcement….
So no cries of ‘racial profiling’… No scenes of people being rounded up & put on busses, for the liberal media to film & attach to some pretty young reporter talking about the fate of children who will be left behind or shipped out of the country…
Call it the ‘Stealth Approach’ – the law is strictly enforced, but the IRS, Bueau of Prisons, and local/state DoCs do it…. There are no round ups or raids… However, the IRS audits employers & makes damn sure they are following the law (thus reducing illegal immigration by eliminating the jobs… Why hire a violator, when you can hire someone who’s here legally for not much more, and not risk the wrath of the most feared govt agency in DC?) And folks who get booked into jail get checked at the jail (not on the roadside – and not over ‘speeding tickets’ or ‘busted tail-lights': jail-able offenses only, so no racial profiling) as part of identification and booking…. We’re no longer ‘picking on Hispanics’ – we’re identifying international criminals of all backgrounds & sending them home after they do their time…
The Democrats can’t follow us down this path – their backers in the unions won’t let them, because the new immigrants will be happy to work for below ‘union scale’. They need immigration restrictions in order to keep the union vote. Nor can they claim it’s racially motivated, as we’ll be letting in more law-abiding Hispanics by the bucket-load…
But at the same time, it does not betray our principles by rewarding law-breaking.
Finally, tell the folks who think ‘we have to preserve White America’, or that ‘Immigrants steal American Jobs’ to SHUT THE HELL UP. Pat Buchanan, this means YOU.
Stop being the ‘Stupid Party’ on Biology and Economics:
Right now, the GOP has become the refuge of idiots… Not because we WANT them or agree with them, but because our lack of leadership allows them to cloak themselves in our major-party legitimacy without rebuke.
Idiots who believe medieval theories about female fertility… Or that vaccines cause autisim….
Idiots who believe in economic theories that defy mathematics & ignore consumer-choice reality… Yes, this means the Pauls & other hard-money/Austrian-school followers. Banks are not evil, if you think they are, you’re a Democrat.
Idiots who think that America needs to go back to the foreign & immigration policies of an era when Europe ruled the world & we were a 3rd-world backwater full of illiterate factory-workers & dirt-farmers…
And idiots who believe that taxing imports will make life better in America, rather than raise prices and become another federal welfare program…
Idiots who believe the UN is a shadow-front for grey-aliens, Illuminati/Masons/boogeymen, etc…
We need to formally reject & absolutely prevent from achieving office, anyone with these sort of positions. If they run, they should be denied funding. If they are in office now, primary them out. We must not allow them to distort our brand!
We ARE the TRUE ‘Party of the Middle Class’ – If only they knew it!
This is a major marketing-fail for our side.
We all know our policies – cheap energy, low taxes, and government that lets you live your life – are what most of the true middle-class wants… The problem is, the Democrats have managed to convince that same group to vote against these things because ‘the Republicans are the party of the Greedy Rich!’
Because of this, we are LOSING the votes of the very people who our policies help the most – Suburban office workers & white-collar professionals, in the 35-100k income range.
The Dems can do this without opposition, because the GOP sucks at marketing & refuses to answer this charge in kind – we have such immense faith in the right-ness of our cause, that we think it can sell itself.
But like any other product, the Conservative Cause CANNOT sell itself – it needs to be professionally packaged and sold.
How to do this?
First off, adjust the ad strategy.
Solicit youtube-type videos from local middle-class Conservatives, answering ‘Why are you a Republican’.
Pick the ones that expose the right issues (spending, non-income taxation (gas tax, etc), Democrat hostility to suburban life, price issues (but NOT inflation. Inflation is GOOD), cronysism, etc), and turn them into local advertising – showing why ‘your neighbors’ vote GOP, and how doing so benefits YOU as a 35-100k-earning, office-worker/suburban voter.
Second, we need a national narrative to counter party-of-the-rich.
I would suggest focusing on the fact that Democrat policies only benefit a small, narrow segment of the population – union members (less than 15% of the workforce), public employees, pollitically-connectd corporations, and those on government assistance….
Paint them as a party of out-of-touch ivory-tower academics, who have never lived the middle-class life, but think they know how YOU should live it, better than YOU do…
Paint them as tongue-clucking busy-bodies who want to tell you what to eat, where to live, how to get around, as they roll by in limousines rented on your dime…. Equate them to the HOA busy-body who whines about kids toys in the front yard….
The ‘Raving Red Radical’ scare-tactics DO NOT WORK. It got old in the 50s, and most of today’s suburbanites have never met a Hippie protestor, Black Panther, or Black-Bloc anarchist…
The ‘Limousine Liberal’ nanny-Bloomberg label DOES. Everybody hates the neighborhood-ninny…. Plus, with the rise of the HOA, such people are the bane of suburban life, and almost every neighborhood has one!
The solution on the rest of the platform, is to become the ‘Super Federalist Party’….
What does this mean?
Well, it means adopting the position that the US Government should only involve itself in things that cross state lines, international borders, or that are enumerated in the Constitution.
And it means EXPLAINING this to the people, as to how it HELPS THEM in both ‘blue’ AND ‘red’ states – we are the party that lets you live how you want to live, in your state. The Dems are the party that wants every American to live the same way, as dictated from DC.
Roe needs to go, but we won’t support any abortion-legislation at the federal level.
Nor will we fund it.
If Massachusetts wants abortion legal, their choice… If Texas wants it banned, their choice too…
War On Drugs?
We keep it up for inter-state and international trafficking (say, busting the Hells Angels for a multistate meth ring, and actions against the Mexican cartels), but no DEA raids of Joe’s Pot Shop in California…
Californians want to be a bunch of retarded stoners? Their choice…
Oklahoma wants to put a 1-time pot dealer in jail for life (hypothetically)? Go right ahead, but you pay for it…
And here’s where it gets really, really good: By being TRULY Federalist, we can balance the federal budget AND do it while not looking like ‘we hate the Poor’.
Simply put, we can make the argument that ‘the people of Virgina should not be paying to build streetcar lines in Milwaukee’… The people of New York shouldn’t be paying for a state-route freeway from Puyallup to Renton, in Washington (SR-167), or a bridge in Alaska….
In such a world, Federal money would ONLY be spent on interstate and international matters….
Transportation funds would be spent on aviation, international shipping ports, and the Interstate system….
No more federal funds for local projects, and we’d be checking to make sure that all roads with an I-number really do cross state lines or bypass a congested area, connecting with a main-line Interstate route on both ends. Interstate construction and repair would also be directly federally funded, and the contracts would be issued at the federal level (to prevent ‘diversion’ of I-way funds by states)…
We could go through the entire federal budget, and offload every single item that is a ‘local matter’ back to the states, on the argument that ‘everyone shouldn’t have to pay for this’…
Bingo – we’re cutting the federal budget, without actually favoring anyone… And without ‘targeting the poor’ or ‘picking on the less fortunate’ (because it would be state government deciding how much to spend on those issues)….
Environmental regulation? If it impacts interstate commerce (eg, pollution of interstate/international waterways, air quality, etc), it’s federal. If it’s a matter of when you can have a bonfire, what lakes can have power-boats on them, where people can ride ATVs, or what you have to recycle? Local/state (unless it’s purely federal land, like a military base or national park).
The Feds would become the defenders of your constitutional rights, protectors of the nation, and the ‘glue’ that holds the states together… It would be something everyone could LIKE them for…
And each state could be as liberal or as conservative as it’s people desire…
We could actually WIN on this message, too… Because we’d no longer be too conservative or too liberal for any given set of electoral votes – we’d be the party of ‘you choose’.
It also reconciles – as best as possible – the feud between social conservatives like me, and reasonable libertarians.
I say ‘reasonable’ because the likes of the Ron Paul movement are a no-compromise, intractable bunch of kooks, who want to force everyone to follow their positions & always let the perfect be the enemy of the good…
But for those who will accept such things as leaving social issues to the states, and reducing the war on drugs to the Constitutional role of the fed-govt… We can get along – at least well enough to get the Dems out of power & save the country!