Towards the end of his excellent front page essay today. “Considering immigration,” Eric has this one line: “Republicans should change the conversation.”
He is 100% correct, yet we never seem to figure out exactly just how to accomplish this. And until we do, we will continue to lose. We win on ideas, on the merits, on our core beliefs of small government, individual liberty, and rights that stem from our creator, and not Washington. Yet we have failed to convey them to a large segment of America.
Conservatives have not had a great, effective national communicator since Ronald Reagan.
That’s 30 years ago. That’s a scary thought, yet, it explains why we are losing the battles, and the war.
Possibly it’s because of Twitter, and You-tube. Is it possible to convey a thoughtful, intelligent idea in a few words of text, or a few seconds of video? I’m not sure. Imagine the Founding Fathers attempting to explain the Declaration of Independence, or the Constitution, via a series of Tweets.
Just consider how we have allowed ourselves to be defined by the way the left frames the arguments:
Illegal Immigration: Just using the term seemingly mitigates the crime. Indeed the left has gone so far as to now use “undocumented” as the term of art. Do we refer to murders as “illegal homicides?” Of course not, because murder is by definition a crime.
Gay marriage: Once we allowed the term to come into common usage, the battle may well be lost. Marriage has always been between a man and a woman. Period. “Modifying” it denies history, and natural law, and opens the floodgates to polygamy, child abuse, and worse.
Choice: We allowed the euphemism for abortion to gain acceptance. And sadly, for those of who hold that abortion is murder, we have to an extent ceded the high moral ground.
Global warming: How did we allow junk science to gain such traction? As well as the idea that we could somehow manipulate the planet’s temperature. This should have been a no-brainer to knock down. Hello! Has anyone heard of the Ice Age? A little more than 10,000 years ago, much of Washington DC was covered by ice several miles deep. ( Not a bad idea, actually) We should have been able to debunk this instantly, and ridicule those who profound it. Instead, we came with a few hundred votes of electing its chief advocate to the White House.
But rather than being discouraged, I think the lesson is that with the right person, we can reverse the present direction of our nation. Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher showed us how. They were true conservatives; ones who ( in the words of William F. Buckley Jr) “…stood athwart History, yelling “Stop!” at a time when no one is inclined to do so..”
That is one of WFB jr’s most famous lines, yet from the same piece ( The Nov, 19, 1955 “Mission Statement” for the first issue of National Review) he defined our enemies in words that are frightening in their prescience:
“The largest cultural menace in America is the conformity of the intellectual cliques which, in education as well as the arts, are our to impose on the nation their modish fads and have nearly succeeded in doing so…”
Conservatives will never be able to change the conversation until we have another leader who can successfully convey our message. The Great Commission is less than 100 words; Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is 272.
It is BOTH the person AND the message that must be completely in sync. In 2012, Rick Perry had the correct message, but was unable to deliver it. Marco Rubio possesses the innate ability to communicate, but his message of late has fallen short.
As we begin to survey, and weed out the presidential field for 2016, we must look at these candidates for their ability to be a great communicator. Some on the right have suggested that it is time for conservatives to turn away from the iconic figure of Ronald Reagan. In reality, if we are to be victorious in 2014, and 2016, we need to embrace Reagan’s ability, and legacy, even more.