A Fundamental Change in Republican Strategy Is Needed
One of the perks of living in the valley is morning radio. Normally KFYI’s Bruce Jacobs is rambling on about ‘Journos’, his current target of liberal propaganda purveyors. This morning we were treated to the Broomhead. Whenever Jacobs finds more important things to do with this day, Mike Broomhead (yes that is his name, don’t laugh at it, he is very good) fills in. This morning he made a statement that rang very true, but he just glanced over it and moved on. He said, we are failing to frame the message. How right he is. What he did not do, was put that in context.
As a former negotiator (this was a very long time ago, but memory still works) for and against unions (yes, I was on both sides of that volley) I am mystified at how much the Republican leadership does not know about negotiating and identification of required strategy.
Republican media strategy smacks a great deal of amazement. Instead of leading the story, creating the story, Republicans have a habit of reacting to stories. Democrat media strategy, on the other hand, hardly ever reacts to anything. Way back in the Clinton era, the media itself was amazed at the way politicians responded to questions. They called it ‘spin’. Since then, that ‘spin’ has become the norm for Democrats, while Republicans continue to be amazed at how literally stupid some of the ‘spin’ is. But what was once ‘spin’ is now the lead, and all it really is, is not reacting.
If you have ever been in court, have ever argued a point against an adversary, or have ever been on the defense of a rhetorical exercise, if you have prevailed, it has hardly ever been due to the weight of the argument. It will most always be due to the control of the direction of the argument. That is why it has been said that the legal process has nothing to do with justice. The political process is no different, but it appears, and has for a very long time that Republicans have not attended Negotiation 101.
A basic premise is that any argument has three parts: the two sides’ perspective and the final result. Amateurs enter negotiation with the concept of right, versus wrong, (both sides claim the right.) That is polarizing. Two opposing views can never become one. Someone is either going to win, or the argument will never end and that is what Americans are upset about when they reject polarizing politics. Democrats intend to solve that by dominating the argument. Republicans seem to want to come to a compromise. Negotiation, regardless of the common understanding, has nothing to do with compromise. It has everything to do with domination. Democrats understand that. Republicans don’t.
A current mantra by otherwise spirited politicians, is the concept of attracting the ‘center’. Those people want to set aside the Conservative ideology just long enough to attract the ‘non-committed’. It does not work. The undecided, or non-committed are not an entity. They are persons who have not been persuaded. To approach them with the intent on encouraging their non-committed status, to placate their indecision is to cede their decision to the control of the other side.
Liberals do not speak to the center. Liberals speak sideways and it lures the center to a decision in their direction, making those who have gone ‘left’ no longer ‘center’. They are no longer undecided. Republicans who want to appeal to the center, lose, as the person who is undecided, is the person most likely to vote for the side that lures them, not the side that kisses their hand to encourage their ‘inclusion’. If you want someone to join your party, invite them to come to you and give them a compelling reason for it being in their own self interest to do so. You do not move your party to them. Not only does that change your party, it elevates the invitee, and attracts the other party to lure them in.
Somehow, people who have influence, need to put a stop to the Republican Party’s misguided notion of appealing to the center. One does not catch fish by jumping into the water and swimming like them. And while they are ‘at it’, those ‘influential’ people also need to listen to what Broomhead said: we are not framing the message. Where liberals generate news content and all too agreeable news outlets regurgitate it, Republicans react to it. We need to control the message. That is only done with a comprehensive media strategy that generates the news. Don’t tell me that the liberal press won’t run with those Republican generated news stories. The press is liberal, but it is still the press. They react. It is their job. Load them up with constant news, from a Conservative perspective and they will report on it. They will call in liberal talking heads to react to it. When that happens, the tide will have changed and the center sitting, undecided voters will begin to notice the ‘right’.
If we as Republicans spent more time focused on controlling the message (and that would be the job of the leader of the party) we would have far less incentive to react to liberal messages. Spin is just a respondent’s rejection of reaction. Questions are answered by not answering, but rather by turning the topic around (therefore the name ‘spin’.) When Republicans stop reacting, simple math comes into play. When you start with a fact, are faced with a spin, and do not react, the resulting counter-argument brings the issue back to the fact. Do that, and 2010 will be a disaster for Democrats.