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I’m old enough to remember when the Republican Party still played to win. It honestly wasn’t all that long ago, but it seems like a lifetime sometimes. While many might say that the fighting spirit was lost after Reagan, that isn’t quite true. Carrying 49 out of 50 states in 1984 did take a fight, but that was a “kinder and gentler” time.
No, the real fighting I remember very well happened when George W. Bush ran for office. Those campaigns weren’t remotely close to gentlemanly. The detractors that wrote about it — and even made documentary films to show the political steamroller that lead from Texas to the White House — weren’t lying, at least not completely. While the talk in the spotlight was about principles, the actions in the shadows were singularly focused on one thing: winning. I’m reminded of what was every time I see Karl Rove on the screen.
You used to be much more…”muchier.” You’ve lost your muchness.
I’m reminded of that line from Alice in Wonderland when I look at the man that engineered what was arguably the most vicious campaigns since the days of Richard Nixon. Watergate tactics were just part of the toolbox for Rove, or so the stories go. Some people might say that we’ve moved beyond that sort of thing, and that we’re better than that now. How? Is it better to stand on principles, and lose repeatedly?
When I worked on political campaigns, I wasn’t a true believer. I went where the money was. Since I live in a blue state, that meant I worked a fair number of campaigns for Democrats. Some people may say that means that I’m a traitor or something, but I was a capitalist. I only worked for two Democrats for something other than money — they were family friends, and blood is thicker than politics. You don’t tell your mother that you won’t help a friend when she asks. People may complain about my past, but I ended up knowing quite a bit about how Democrats work as a result. In all honesty, the Republicans back then were more cutthroat. Today, by contrast, the Democrats win that competition. I’m still trying to figure out how that happened.
Like it or not, we have to decide where we want to be as conservatives. There are some simple truths that the public has learned about politicians, and one of the first on that list is that they lie. They say what the people want to hear in order to win. What we need to do is ask ourselves why we are losing. Andrew Breitbart said it clearly, although many people probably interpret his words purely as a statement about standing on principle.
“If you can’t sell freedom and liberty, you suck… Profoundly. Irrationally… I just don’t understand that, I mean, that is the lifeblood of humanity – freedom and liberty – and the Republicans make it so boring.”
Republicans can’t sell freedom and liberty because we’re too busy jumping through hoops created by the opposition. We leap to protect marriage from gays, instead of pointing out that the federal government shouldn’t be defining it in the first place. That is for the churches. Women cry that we’re declaring war on them because we don’t want to pay for their birth control, and we still don’t scream for the pill to end up being sold over the counter — a situation under which no one would expect insurance companies or government to pay for it in the first place. The opposition plays dirty and we cry foul — to deaf ears.
Barack Obama won because his message resonated with youth. It still does. He doesn’t play fair and they don’t care. They’re happy to have handouts from the government, and that is how Democrats have bought votes for decades. Eventually, however, even the youth get annoyed with having government as caretaker. When they want to turn their “next big thing” into a real business, they quickly discover how government works against them. Some of them even figure out that the handouts end up costing them. They figure out that college tuition rates increase when government lets them borrow more to pay for their education. Of course, there’s also the shock they get when they receive their first paychecks and see how much the government takes before they even see a dime.
As Mitt Romney pointed out, there will always be a percentage of the population that will never buy freedom, simply because they’ve internalized a dependence on government. They are utterly dependent on the state, and will never even conceive of a situation other than what they have now. We don’t need to try to sell anything to them, because they are incapable of buying. We can, however, sell the concept of freedom to young voters as well as Obama has sold “Hope and Change” to them. It’s not going to happen by playing nice though.
We need to stop taking the bait offered by liberals. Instead of screaming about social issues, we need to just simply say, “I have my right to believe what I choose, and you do not have the right to force me to change.” No more debating the fine points. We need to focus on what really matters, and that list is very long. The people are getting squeezed with increasing costs for just about everything. If we can’t sell the public on real solutions to those problems, we suck. Our nation hasn’t had a solid energy policy in my lifetime, even though it should have been addressed immediately after the Carter Administration. That’s our fault, as much as it is the fault of Democrats. Instead of taking the bait on climate change, point out that electric cars aren’t selling, and that Keystone XL would actually lessen damage to the environment — no more trains carrying oil to derail and spill. Coal power plants are bad? What happened to the oil-producing algae that needs carbon to grow? Why aren’t we feeding tanks of that, instead of it going out of smoke stacks? Liberals claim they’re for protecting the environment, but that’s not true. Why are we letting them perpetuate their lies?
Finally, when someone does it right, we need to examine what they did, and apply it to other issues. Want an example? Learn from Bill O’Reilly — and, more importantly, from Monica Crowley — here: