For a variety of different reasons, many Americans believe that the 2010 mid-term election is one of the most important in our country’s history. Republicans and Democrats are engaged in an ideological war of words, spinning their versions of reality for the entire nation to witness. For those who are not news junkies or political fans, most election cycles can be frustrating experiences as they navigate a sea of information trying to make the right decision in November.
As someone who is involved in politics, I have noticed a disturbing trend develop over the past decade. Politicians have seemingly stopped talking about the actual issues and how they affect us as Americans, and instead choose to solely focus on winning. Candidates now spend millions nationally, tens of thousands locally, on consultants to shape their campaigns. Their goal is to find the right strategy, the perfect messaging, to turn out voters and outsmart their opponents. Winning is important, but it’s difficult to get anyone to follow you if you can’t explain why they should. This is true in both parties, but how does this help the average American understand what is going on?
As a conservative Republican, I have seen my party take for granted that people understand what they’re talking about. When we refer to “free market solutions,” or “small government,” we expect the average voter will know exactly what we mean, when many simply do not. Many Republicans act as though conservative values are “common sense,” and that people will “come around” when they realize it. Unfortunately this laissez-faire attitude, combined with poor messaging, has left us playing right into the hands of crafty Democrats.
If we oppose the unfunded extension of unemployment, we are labeled “insensitive.” If we oppose illegal immigration, we are called “racists.” If we believe marriage is a rite instead of a right, we are labeled “bigots.” If we support tax cuts, we’re accused of being “for the rich.” This happens because we continually lose the battle when it comes to messaging, at a time when many Americans don’t read past the headlines.
The rift between the Left and Right in this country is wide, but it pales in comparison to the chasm between the political class and the average voter. Most Independents, Non-Partisans, Libertarians and other third-party or unaffiliated voters have walked away from the major parties because they no longer engage the average American in civil discourse.
For example, calling President Obama a “socialist” may rile up a crowd of conservatives, but that’s preaching to the choir. Meanwhile, many people who aren’t as knowledgeable when it comes to government and politics will be immediately turned off to any message that follows, and take their votes with them. Sadly, there is rarely a message that follows. Instead, we need to detail exactly what we feel is wrong with a policy position, piece of legislation or new law – and present it well.
Americans, despite their growing apathy toward government and politics, tend to have good judgment when acting as a group. They want to do what’s right, even if some of us don’t agree with their decision. But they need the facts, not the rhetoric. Politicians today spend so much time scaring their base in an attempt to mobilize them that they are immobilizing so many others who want nothing to do with those tactics. It’s a losing strategy long-term.
“Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.” – Thomas Jefferson
It is for these reasons that I have decided to write a series of posts on the issues affecting us – as Americans – from a common-sense conservative point of view. I will explain how many on the Left routinely mischaracterize the GOP position to paint us as radicals and racists, instead of simply disagreeing on logic and methodology – and how the Right continues to fail at messaging.
Stay tuned for Part I: The Mosque at Ground Zero!