Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Purging the Party to Win Future Elections?

In a thread about something else entirely altogether, the discussion turned into one about McCain-blame and party purging. I thought I'd share my comments which I don't expect many movement conservatives to agree with; but I figure since this is my blog, I should narcissistically share with readers what I think and how I feel:

Comment #10:
The core circle at LGF believe the republicans need more moderates which it didn’t turn out will as history tells us.

The only reason McCain lost the election was because of McCain, not the base.
Bullshit. You said it yourself: You held your nose and voted for McCain. Conservatives did come out to bat (whether for McCain, for Palin, or against Obama), because we knew the alternative was far worse.

McCain ran a lousy campaign with an inconsistent message. The timing of the economic crisis in September, his response to it, a media that didn't do its job, an American public that was Bush-fatigued, all worked against us in this election cycle. Compound that with an uber-candidate that not even a Clinton shoe-in/birth-right nomination could overcome, you have an election that was bigger than laying scapegoating blame on McCain. Any conservative dream candidate would have had an uphill battle to wage this time around. Just look at the messianic-like fervor of Obama supporters; the desire amongst many Americans to see the glass-ceiling break, of putting into office a non-white president.

Like it or not, when the country is split down the middle 50/50, you're going to need the wishy-washy conservatives like myself and center-right/center-left moderates as well as cross-over Democrat voters to win future elections. You're not going to win elections by shrinking the party. I do agree, however, that conservative principles and ideology should not be abandoned, but better espoused. Which is why we need a better 'delivery system"; someone who can charismatically get across the conservative message and make it "hip" and "cool" and attractive. Substance alone isn't enough without good packaging/marketing- something Obama has in spades (minus the substance).

I really don't think McCain lost because "he wasn't conservative enough". Look at how candidates in state elections who are hard-core conservatives fared even worse than McCain. He lost because Obama ran the better campaign, had the more appealing "packaging" and "message".

McCain didn't lose because he isn't conservative enough; and Obama didn't win because he's liberal too much. It all comes down to how you're able to market the message.

From my comment #26:
Wordsmith: The country isn’t 50/50 it’s 60/40, 60% conservative/center right. The republican party can’t be “all things” to all people. McCaine tried that and failed.
Agreed. McCain had an inconsistent message, and I think that might be due to his campaign handlers trying to get him to "say all the right things". The base were aching for him to hammer Obama hard on his radical ties; when he relented, it was in a half-assed manner, providing fodder for liberals in the media and Democrats to characterize McCain as running a negative campaign. The whole Palin comment about "palling around with terrorists" worked against the McCain campaign, because they never followed through with why it mattered; when McCain finally mentioned Ayers in the debates, it was as though he expected the media to do the public's homework for them and report to the electorate why the ties mattered- which was more than about what Ayers did in the 60's. McCain should either not bring the topic up at all, or he should go "all the way" and highlight, underline, and underscore why Ayers mattered.

As far as "republican party can't be 'all things' to all people", I agree; which is why I said in comment #10 that "conservative principles and ideology should not be abandoned, but better espoused". Hence my talk about having a "charismatic" "delivery system".

This may be insulting to the American people, but the truth of the matter is, there are a number of voters who will turn out on Election Day and vote without being well-informed. There's a reason why campaign slogans like "Country First" and "Hope and Change" become mantras for candidates. Messages often need to be condensed and simplified for public consumption.

From Hugh Hewitt's 2004 book, Ch14 on Majorities Require the Votes of Some Not-Very-Bright People, pg 85:
Huge numbers of people who simply cannot read a sentence vote in elections.


Just like the uncomfortable fact that all elections depend upon the votes of grade school and high school dropouts. Except for criminals, everyone gets to vote if they want to. Even though most illiterates don't vote, vast numbers do as do vast numbers of dropouts.

Elections are decided by people you wouldn't want to change your oil or make change at the local supermarket.

Which explains why politics requires simple messages.

A lack of education does not mean a lack of character or a lack of patriotism. It can often mean, however, that the individual without much education is not in a position to respond to intricate arguments and big words.

Politics often comes down to slogans and pictures and music because candidates need to communicate with broad ranges of people, some of whom don't have the mental equipment to deal with policy papers.

The mandatory simplicity of a lot of politics puts off some people.

They want to talk big ideas and they scorn simple speech.

A lot of intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals fall into the trap of ignoring the need to communicate with every possible voter.

Hence my fixation in this thread on "packaging" and "marketing" the message. We conservatives may think we are the party of ideas and substance, but it does us no good if we are unable to communicate the ideology. The image of the GOP and conservative ideology has been successfully (mis)characterized by its opponents: We're supposedly the "party of the selfish rich", "religious nuts", racists, anti-gay bigots, uncaring of the poor and the homeless, warmongers, anti-environment, and close-minded; a party primarily made up of an "old white men's" club.

Even though most conservatives I know espouse what I deem to be the correct message of MLK, which is to not obsess over skin-color, unlike Democrats who's election wins depend upon "the black vote", from a political standpoint, the Jindals and the Steeles are important to the party....*sigh*....because of skin color. It's a frustrating paradox. But for the sake of image, the Jindals and the Steeles are important to the future of the GOP, because they are eloquent conduits of conservative principles and ideology. And for the side of the aisle who is still "stuck on race", they might not be tuned into listening to a Fred Thompson; but they just might prick their ears up for one moment and forget the oreo-throwing to listen to the message of the messenger who is not your stereotypical old, white, rich Republican.

If we need the moderate vote or Democrat vote we do it by having them come to us not compromise our principles for them.

Which is why I'm not too keen on the concept of "bipartisanship". At least not in the sense that it means diluting oneself of conservativism, creating an inferior and lameduck product.

But when you say "have them come to us", well of course! But sometimes that does mean "compromise" and exercising "diplomacy". The "all-or-nothing-at-all" angry conservative who will sit on his hands come election time because a candidate is never "pure" enough for them is childish and will lose us elections. We never agree with anyone 100% of the time. If that's the candidate we're looking for, then we should nominate ourselves each time.

When Mike talks of me being "nice" to the opposition, it's not a matter of me trying to "go along to get along", as Mike put it in another post somewhere; it's a matter of exercising "civility" to ultimately get what I want; which is more converts to the conservative cause. You don't do that by bludgeoning people over the head with your message; you don't do it by throwing out the moderates and alienating them with insults. Usually when you insult people and resort to name-calling in debates, all you will succeed in doing is make the other person defensive and bunker down rather than listen, ponder, and engage the merits of what you're actually saying.

The Republicans who lost this last go-around were mostly moderates in liberals states. They should have sailed through re-election because they were all things to all people but they didn’t.

Republicans who fared better than McCain in states with close elections were those candidates perceived, like McCain, as as "independent" or "moderate" (like Lindsey Graham, Gordon Smith, and ....er....Susan Collins- doh!).

In those places where McCain was on the ballot with a local conservative candidate, I don't recall a single state where a Republican further to the right than McCain ran better than him.

In regards to the claim that McCain received "5million votes less the GW Bush in 04′", this was due to him losing the votes of self-described independents. The number of Republican voters who turned out was about the same in '04 as it was in '08. The base became energized by the Palin-McCain ticket and were highly driven by an anti-Obama fervor.

In order to win elections you need the independent voters and self-described moderates. You don't do that by pissing away at voters within the party you deem too impure. Yes, there are CINOs that drive me as crazy as they drive you within the Party. But this RINO witch-hunt is somewhat of a losing strategy. More focus should be paid to communicating conservative ideology in an inclusive manner that will attract voters to adopt conservatism in order to "grow the Party"; not shrink it. The way you build a majority is by dealing with people who are different from yourself in a way that will win over converts.

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Blogger Average American said...

Well written post Wordsmith. I would like to add that the Republican Party has to understand that there are several different types of conservatism. I consider myself quite conservative FISCALLY, but, socially, well, not so much.

I hated to see the government get involved in the Elian Gonzales case. That whole fiasco should NEVER have gone down. We already had a law to go with. The kid didn't have dry feet---he goes back---end of discussion!

The woman in Florida, Quinlan if I remember correctly. Once it was determined that she in fact had said she didn't want to be artifically kept alive, the plug should have been pulled and left that way. The federal government had absolutely NO business sticking their nose into it. PERIOD!

The abortion issue---the biggest mistake the Republican Party makes---OVER AND OVER! More moderates vote democrat because of this issue than any other. Don't hang on to this monster like it is the number one priority.

Right now, there is a huge potential for a legitimate 3rd party to rise to power in this country. I call it "THE AVERAGE AMERICAN PARTY", catering to the vast majority of people who are sick and tired of both the Ds and the Rs. Maybe it's time for me to start pushing for such a party. Want to join me?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger Chuck said...

Good post.

I do disagree on the conservative turnout. I think some stayed home. I think they were idiots. I also think you could make a case that it didn't really effect the election a whole lot.

I think the biggest fault lies at the feet of McCain for running a horrible camapaign. A lot of the reasons you mentioned for Obama winning were just as much McCain's fault as it was Obama's.

Elections ultimately come down to defining the candidates. McCain let himself be defined by Obama and let Obama define himself. It really is that simple.

Thursday, February 26, 2009 7:40:00 AM  
Blogger Tapline said...

Word, great post.....Republican Party....What Republican Party/????Did they even respond to the critism given them for the antics of snow, Collins and the Penn...dude.....I heard nothing. McCain screwed himself with the illegals....Somehow, all politicians love Illegals...What about illegal don't they understand......Look at what the big O promised America and he has done more harm in less than two months than any other president.....With the blessings of the Amercan people...The pose he struck last night,,so reminded me of El Duc'e, WWII Italy......How Ironic, I ramble....stay well.....

Thursday, February 26, 2009 7:48:00 PM  
Blogger christian soldier said...

Wordsmith-wonderful -thought - filled post--Thanks!

The Republicans -tend to back away from a fight-trying to play NICE--McCain-was continually 'pulling his punches' why?
As to the pro- life issue - my answer to those who are pro-death- --I now say-"Aren't you glad that your Mom decided not to abort you? You would not be here to argue your case for the convenient death of the un-born human." :-)

Thursday, February 26, 2009 11:22:00 PM  
Blogger It's My Choice said...

"How Dumb Do They Think We Are?"

We cannot sink into complacency, giving Obama a free ride to mediocrity. If we are going to go down We must go down Kicking

Friday, February 27, 2009 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

I'm going to feature this as one of my "Wish I said this" posts.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009 11:18:00 PM  
Blogger rightwingprof said...

Thank God! A conservative with common sense! Blogrolled and linked!

As for this crap about immigration, every single immigration hawk in 06 lost, except for Tancredo. Not even Gilchrist could get close to winning in Arizona. Immigration is a losing issue, but I suppose some need to lose five or six more elections before they figure it out.

Thursday, March 05, 2009 10:14:00 AM  

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