By Dean L
My ability to post of late continues to be seriously compromised by real life. As I've mentioned before that is both fortunate and unfortunate. Lately, it's been more unfortunate than fortunate but I have managed to distill some learnings down to a more consumable amount for readers - I just haven't put fingers to keyboard yet.
One of the more salient learnings is that the paths for the GOP and for conservatives and/or libertarians must by nature of the respective needs, must diverge. That is not to say that the strategic goals of both have diverged - far from it, regardless of how the current GOP braintrust is behaving. Rather, working towards the same goals for America requires Republicans and conservative citizens take different paths, and cover different ground, to get to where things need to be for 2014 and 2016.
I'll take the opportunity in the near future to expand on the critical needs for both but for now it can be summed up in a couple of quick sentences. The GOP needs to focus on why it lost and what it has been doing wrong. Much has changed since 2008 when McCain lost, unfortunately the GOP has not. Rather than wasting much time soul searching, the needs are pretty evident. The GOP messaging is not breaking through to enough voters to win presidential elections. Or elections period. Arguments can be made about changing demographics and the poor co-ordination of Romney's election team in terms of technical capabilities. Arguments can be made about how to overcome the media mountain the MSM has created as a firewall for liberal candidates. But what it all boils down to is messaging.
The GOP needs to be infinitely more effective in its messaging. That means a cleaner, simpler, more relateable message that connects to voters on a gut level, rather than trying to educate enough voters on the rationale why fiscal conservatism works, why capitalism works, and why the free market and liberty are better than socialism. That to some extent has been tried (though arguably only marginally) and it hasn't worked. What's needed is a straightforward message and a likable message bearer. That's all (for more information - see Reagan). While the way to convey the message may have changed over time, the basics are still the same. Republicans must focus on winning hearts and minds, and not waiting until after the 2016 primaries to do so.
It means rising above the day-to-day specifics of the fiscal cliff (for example) and talking in soundbites that are bullet-proof and repeatable for people talking among friends. Forget trying to win each argument on points because at the end of the day, if it doesn't make a difference with on-the-fence voters, it still counts as a loss.
Conservatives face a different road. The fiscal integrity of the country is at stake. Volunteering for Tea Party events is fine, but someone has got to keep the engine running. Conservatives have rightly focused on the negative impact of intrusive, overly burdensome government. But the time to look past it, to ignore government has come. Political landscapes cannot continue to dominate the thinking processes of business owners and workers. Conservatives in general need to look at ways to exist both outside of the shadow of government and outside the imposition of liberal advantages of media and education (and other institutional advantages).
Parallel systems based on core conservative principles need to be built - not for the future, but now. Every day that passes now, the liberals by default gain ground. So don't do things to support that infrastructure. Need to send a letter? Don't use the post office - send an email or perhaps use FedEx for your package. Need to educate your child - try a private school, home school, or anything but public school. Don't feed the bureaucracy - work around it.
Meanwhile, generational changes in thinking require conservative assaults on the unchallenged media and public education bulwarks of progressive liberalism. Think of these not as political challenges to be overcome, but free market opportunities. Instead of seeing the creation of video games glorifying senseless violence a la Grand Theft Auto, there has to be a sound market for games in which the kids playing are playing as an all-American hero (for example). That speaks to kids, not another video about trillions of dollars in debt.
To sum up - Republicans need to focus on the message they are presenting, while conservatives need to keep the country on it's feet but doing so in a way that continues to promote American values and can be an influence on the next generations of voters. In a way, it's also about messaging but it's more about figuring out how to create wealth for America despite the intrusions of an ever-expanding government.
More to come.