Democrats know a secret about Republicans that they themselves have yet to discover or refuse to acknowledge. Democrats understand that a disease permeates both the Republican Party leadership and its voters, and affects campaigns and candidate selection. I call the affliction creeping defeatism. Democrats know its end result is that Republicans will defeat themselves given half a chance.
Regular Joes can’t win, so let’s run a rich, telegenic idiot.
Creeping defeatism starts with candidate selection. Stereotypes of “who can win” are so ingrained in the minds of leadership that they overlook qualified candidates and instead select someone they believe looks the part. The result is a candidate like Marco Rubio who is telegenic but lacks any principles or a spine. He speaks eloquently and can read a teleprompter or memorize cue cards, but when put in a room with people with stronger, opposing convictions, Marco buckles.
Beauty really is skin deep, and beneath the shimmering surface is often a disloyal RINO. The equally articulate, principled candidate that is not as telegenic is told, “Someone like you can’t win in this district”. This person may not look the part, but they are unflinching in their support of Republican ideals and would never back down from a fight. Party leadership looks at them and says, “Plain Joe can never win.” They instead choose a person who is popular. Then, often times because of publicized misdeeds or some scandalous behavior, the party must immediately rationalize their choice by saying, “He’s flawed, but who isn’t?”
The party places faith in cult of personality over the power of ideas. Often the personality is ill-equipped to carry the message but eligible by virtue of their time served and position as next in line. When you look back at the success of Reagan, there was a foundation of ideas first supported secondarily by the personality. Personality alone never gets the job done.
Those people don’t vote for us.
Creeping defeatism continues in suggestions of who votes Republican. I’ve heard these variations for years: “You’ll never get the Hispanic vote – they’re Democrats. Blacks only vote for Democrats. The poor vote Democrat. Teachers are always Democrats. “ But I’ve attended Tea Party rallies and they draw a melting pot of citizens concerned about their country and tired of abuse from Washington.
Contrary to mass media portrayals, the idea of freedom from an out-of-control, tyrannical federal government is embraced by Americans of all races, ages, and economic backgrounds. Yet, party defeatists believe the party’s ideas don’t appeal to all Americans, so they allow themselves to be stereotyped by Democrats and avoid attempts to attract voters with presumed Democrat loyalty. (If they do, they often do so by compromising their ideas to pander to Democrat-held ideas.)
Avoiding a demographic group because you presume they are Democrat-held voters is quitting before you start. People of all backgrounds embrace Republican ideas given the opportunity to be exposed to them and have them explained in contrast to failed ideas of the Democrats. In Democrat-held cities such as Detroit, oppressed people clamor for an alternative, but Republicans are nowhere to offer it – they’ve surrendered without a fight. As the Tea Party has proven, Americans of all stripes like good ideas. Our ideas are winning ideas that promote the best circumstances for Americans, why would anyone back down from them?
Let’s let our opponents set the talking points, every time.
Leading in the arena means getting your ideas heard. That requires a well-thought-out platform in advance of the election so you have rails to run on. The Republican Party’s ideas win every time voters are offered the opportunity to vote for them. Americans recognize that these ideas honor individual freedom to succeed without subjugating citizens through government welfare or regulation. Unfortunately, Republicans are either too ignorant of the value of these ideas or too timid to promote them, even when faced with opposing Socialist proposals.
Much like in a legal battle, the party that makes it a priority to get their message out first has a much stronger chance of winning. Republicans too often operate in a reactive role of responding to the topics Democrats pick, even topics that are purposeful red herrings to draw attention away from Democrat abuses of power. (Ex. The days spent by Hannity and Trump talking about Khan, who is not running for President, in lieu of advancing an attack on Hillary’s record.)
Let’s win by losing; that’ll assure we win next time.
This loser strategy works as well in politics as it does on the battlefield. Can you imagine Patton saying, “Let’s purposely lose to the Nazis, so we can win next time.” In politics, this mentality is equally ridiculous and leads to deeper entrenchment of the opposition’s policies, many of which are designed to prevent us from winning in the future by stacking the elections deck against us.
How do we cure the party of creeping defeatism?
Start with ideology. Promote the platform to the public, teach about the proven track record of ideas and you’ll gain quality people to your camp who may want to run for office. Vet candidates at the party level with an interview to assure their knowledge and ability to articulate ideas. The party should always ask if that candidate will support the ideas beyond their initial election (unlike Sen. Rubio, whose first vote in Congress stabbed the party in the back).
Primary voters can further vet candidates with the ballot box should one slip through the party vetting process. It’s been far too easy for Left-leaning people of mild conviction or nefarious intent to join the party, water down our ideas, and run for and hold office with an R behind their names. (Sen. McCain comes to mind.) The Democrats are uncompromising in their ideology. We should be equally committed to our beliefs.
Eliminate people at all levels of the party who believe we can’t win – they are the weaklings that perpetuate the loser mentality and often float the idea we can win by losing. Run the regular Joes and Janes who have strong ideological conviction and an ability to articulate ideas. There has never been a time in history when a good orator wasn’t respected and given an ear by the public.
Republicans need to shed the Democrat-provided stereotypes and approach all Americans as potential Republican voters. This means setting the topic for discussion in the media and avoiding the bait Democrats use to keep Republican ideas suppressed from the airways and their agenda front and center in public’s mind.
It’s okay to ignore the bait and focus the nation’s attention on what we view as the true issues. This takes discipline, but it is a skill Reagan excelled at that helped him control the press and the national conversation for eight years. Discipline, a focus on ideas, and a belief that those ideas can win are essential to securing a Republican victory.