Republicans and Conservatives keep hurting their prospects of success by (dare I say it?) bitterly clinging to their glittering generalities and vague claims that they’ll be better than their Democratic Party opponents. They need to stop being afraid of providing specifics: each Republican candidate needs to lay out in clearly assessable terms what he plans to do in the coming term if he’s elected.
It isn’t enough to say that Conservative principles are good for the country. If the Conservative message truly has meaning, it’s worth laying out in concrete terms; there’s nothing to fear in a contest of ideas—or of concrete actions—with Democrats. Indeed, it’s necessary to lay them out. It’s necessary to say, explicitly, how this Conservative principle will help a particular farmer in Outback, Nebraska; how this or that principle will make life and the future better for the single mom from the ‘hood in Omaha.
Of course, a candidate’s Democratic opponent will attack the Republican’s specifics—there’s always something wrong with the particulars. Isn’t there? But, to paraphrase General Eisenhower, this attack is to be regarded as an opportunity. There are three things that can happen from a Democrat’s attack on any Republican’s specific proposals, and they’re all favorable to the Republican candidate having the brass to respond.
First, Democrats responding to the Republican candidate’s plan are not putting forward their own ideas; they’re reacting to Republicans. They’ve lost the initiative.
Second, the Republican candidate now has an opportunity to emphasize the fact that he has a plan, he knows what needs to be done; the Democrat has nothing of the kind: all the Democrat can do is sit on the sideline and carp about others.
Third, the Democrats and their supporters will be wrong on the facts and the logic tying the facts together, and their attack will be an excellent vehicle for demonstrating this. Loudly and publicly.