Step 1. Stop insulting voters.
This seems so basic, yet many of the posts, comments, speeches, punditry, and “rational discourse” blow this entirely. Pick your voter block, and conservatives have an insult pre-packaged and ready for them. Liberals just don’t tend to do this as pervasively as our side does. They learned a long time ago: insulting your constituents is a political loser.
Youth vote: “They are brainwashed by liberal educators and liberal media. One day they might grow up, but for now, it’s hopeless.” Keep talking like that and it will be hopeless. The youth aren’t brainwashed, stupid, or incapable of thinking for themselves. They don’t want to associate with people who treat them like children. I spend a good deal of time talking to my kids and their friends. They are engaged, interested, and have open minds.
Black vote: “They are on the Democratic plantation and are beholden to the Democrats even though they don’t ever do anything for them. Also, they just voted for Barack Obama because he’s black.” This is insulting on so many levels, and racist, to boot. Black folks will vote for people they feel understand their issues, just like everyone else. They aren’t beholden to anyone, and vote their interests. Former Democrat Artur Davis lost a majority of black votes to a white Democratic candidate for governor. Black people have a lot more experience voting outside their race than whites. It’s just reality.
Latino vote: “They should be natural Republicans because they are religious and have strong family values. We just need to grant amnesty to them. Or maybe draft Marco Rubio.” Also insulting. Latinos care about all the things everyone else cares about, although they do tend to lean left. Calling out illegal immigration as some sort of special issue makes them feel like Republicans think they are a bunch of law-breakers. They aren’t.
Poor vote: “We’ll never be able to outbid Democrats because the poor just want free stuff. They don’t even pay taxes! They are moochers and takers. Why bother? Also, I’m not sure if they know enough to vote, I wish there was a voter’s test.” You should bother, because the poor don’t want to stay poor, and will vote for people who have plans to help them out of that situation! Some of them are elderly or infirm, and have little ability to rise above their situation without help. The average poor person wants a better wage, more opportunity, safe work conditions, and basic fairness. The Republicans were too busy writing them off to consider this.
Middle class vote: “We want your boss to pay lower taxes, and then he’ll hire more of you.” Message – you are not important. Your boss is. Entrepreneurs are. News flash – most people in America don’t want to be entrepreneurs, and most don’t know any entrepreneurs. Most people want to work a decent job and get paid a decent wage so they can focus on raising families and enjoying life. That’s a focus on living, not working.
Liberal vote: “Mentally disordered, communist, socialist, perverted, stupid idiots who are going to hell. They have no grasp on the real world and real issues. And mostly live on the Left Coast.” Why write off liberals? Some of them voted for Reagan. Some voted for Bush. Some voted for Republicans in your districts because they thought the Republican was a better choice than the Democrat. Conservatives should never consider they have a monopoly on good ideas, knowledge, or wisdom. They simply don’t. Sometimes liberals have better ideas, and liberals are often anything but stupid.
Single women vote: “They want free birth control and tend to be baby killers. They think they need the government to take care of them because they don’t have a man in their life.” My mother was single because my father was in jail. She worked three jobs and I lived in daycare for years. She didn’t want the government to take care of her, but she sure could have used some help. I’m also certain she never wanted to have an abortion, though her economic circumstances may have convinced her there was no other way.
Moderate Republicans vote: “RINOs. Mushy, squishy moderates who don’t really stand for anything and aren’t intellectually consistent. No backbone.” It takes a lot of backbone to be a moderate in today’s Republican party, because choosing a centrist or a left-leaning position requires bravery in a party that demands purity. They often differ with the party line on issues that hold special significance to them, or that they have devoted a lot of thought to. In other words, they are the opposite of this common insult.
LGBT vote: “Disordered, sinful, perverts who are trying to force their lifestyle on my kids and destroy marriage.” They aren’t trying to destroy anything, and they don’t think about your kids. They have aspirations like most Americans and for some, those aspirations include work, marriage and family. By the way, lots of people who aren’t LGBT themselves have friends and family who are LGBT. You are insulting their friends and family.
Union members: “Corrupt thugs trying to run a thugocracy. Unions kill businesses.” Neither of those statements are true of all unions, or even most unions. There are a lot of union voters in this country, and many of them work in hazardous jobs with little protection outside of what their unions can get for them. And plenty of their businesses are running just fine.
Every person in every one of these groups has to swallow a little dignity to count themselves as a Republican. I am half-black and cringe when I see the insult. My daughter is gay and I cringe when I see the insult. I grew up in a poor family that worked very hard and cringe when I see the insult. To associate with Republicans requires me to face it every day. I believe in conservatism, and I’m motivated. But many, many voters out there do not have my kind of motivation.
We get nowhere insulting potential voters. Romney proved this in grand style. You may think that insulting these groups is okay here on Redstate; after all, we’re all old, white, straight, married, rock-ribbed conservatives, right? This happens to correspond to the prime Republican demographic, and I note that this is a group we don’t have a pre-packaged insult for.
What happens here happens everywhere. If we want to do better in elections, and if we want to move the country in a more conservative direction, it has to end somewhere.