I’ve written a few times about how Republicans and Conservatives can attract voters to their party and cause, and how conservative principles will draw Americans of every stripe—that demographics do not threaten us, they aid us—if only we would talk to folks. Those are principle arguments, though.
David Horowitz has a pamphlet out, “Go For the Heart: How Republicans Can Win,” that goes into far more detail. Horowitz makes the principle arguments more cogently, and he has some things to say specifically about what to say.
Below are a couple of excerpts.
In the 2012 election, Democrats attacked Republicans as defenders of the wealthy who are not paying their “fair share.” Republicans responded by deploring “class warfare rhetoric,” which does not answer the charge that Republicans are defending the wealthy and are uncaring.
“Caring” is not one among many issues in an election. It is the central one. Since most policy issues are complicated, voters want to know above everything else just whom they can trust to sort out the complexities and represent them. Before voters cast their ballots for policies or values they want a candidate or party that cares about them. …
… In the 2012 election, 70% of Asian Americans cast their ballots for Obama, even though Asians share Republican values, are family oriented, entrepreneurial, and traditional. Asian Americans voted for Obama because they were persuaded that he cared for minorities—for them, and Romney didn’t.
The Republican response to the Democrats’ attack (that’s “class warfare rhetoric”) doesn’t work because it’s an abstraction. “Class warfare rhetoric” has no human face; it’s about a political style. Criticizing the wealthy for “not paying their fair share” is a direct attack on an easily identified target, which is why so many wealthy taxpayers—including entertainment figures who are normally Democrats—were outraged by the slander. More importantly, the Democrats’ attack on the rich is an emotional appeal to those who are not rich. It tells them that someone cares about them.
Elections are necessarily about “us” and “them.” Democrats are as adept at framing “them,” as Republicans are not. Democrats know how to incite envy and resentment, distrust and fear, and to direct these volatile emotions towards their Republican opponents. Meanwhile, Republicans are busy complaining about the style of the Democrats’ argument.
I’m reminded of the mouse remonstrating with the owl. The mouse thinks the owl’s ways are wrong; the owl thinks the mouse is lunch.
The only way to confront the emotional campaign that Democrats wage in every election is through an equally emotional campaign that puts the aggressors on the defensive; that attacks them in the same moral language, identifying them as the bad guys, the oppressors of women, children, minorities and the middle class, that takes away from them the moral high ground which they now occupy. You can’t confront an emotionally based moral argument with an intellectual analysis.
Horowitz goes on, then he summarizes. Essentially, Republicans need to stop playing small ball, need to stop reacting (piecemeal as it is) to the…Democrats’…initiative: Republicans—and Conservatives, say I—need to seize the initiative, to go on the offensive:
- Put the aggressors on the defensive.
- Put their victims—women, minorities, the poor and working Americans—in front of every argument and every policy in the same way they [Democrats] do.
- Start the campaign now (because the Democrats already have).
Throughout the Republican campaign, there was a lot of talk about “job creators.” There were a lot of defenses of “job creators,” whom Democrats quickly redefined as rich people who don’t pay their fair share. That’s the problem with playing a “prevent defense.” Most Americans see job creators—employers—as rich people. … If you’re fighting for the underdogs, you have to go on the attack.
What about job destroyers? What about Democrats who are killing the jobs of ordinary Americans—not just failing to create them…?
Why are Republicans so reluctant to name the victims of Democrat policies, particularly the victims among America’s minority communities and working classes? Why don’t Republicans identify Democrats as a threat to those communities as Cuomo declared Republicans a threat to women?
The bottom line is this: If Republicans want to persuade minorities they care about them, they have to stand up for them; they have to defend them; and they have to show them that Democrats are playing them for suckers, exploiting them, oppressing them, and profiting from their suffering.
The way for Republicans to show they care about minorities is to defend them against their oppressors and exploiters, which in every major inner city in America without exception are Democrats. Democrats run the welfare and public education systems; they have created the policies that ruin the lives of the recipients of their handouts. It’s time that Republicans started to hold Democrats to account; to put them on the defensive and take away the moral high ground, which they now occupy illegitimately. Government welfare is not just wasteful; it is destructive. The public school system in America’s inner cities is not merely ineffective; it is racist and criminal.
Horowitz’ pamphlet contains much more than just those items, though, and it’s well worth reading in its entirety. One place it can be read is at Power Line.
There’s one more thing Conservatives–including Tea Partiers–should do, that Horowitz doesn’t mention. We should put up candidates in Democratic primaries, forcing a primary contest if necessary, to make Democrat Senate and House incumbents actively defend their in-office records. In public.