We conservatives may never reach a consensus among ourselves as to the main factors that caused our election defeat, but surely we can agree that we must do a better job of selling our ideas.
Never mind, you say. The electorate has irreversibly become a taker class, and conservative ideas of self-reliance, personal responsibility and individual liberties will never appeal to a majority again, especially with demographics working against the GOP.
We must reject that, or we are as good as surrendering. To accept it, we are confessing our skepticism of the power of ideas, which itself is contrary to the conservative spirit.
Conservatives begin at a considerable disadvantage, with a liberal media and academia telling people they are victims who aren’t responsible for their own actions and demonizing the American system as originally conceived, including capitalism, producers, business, energy producers and the wealthy. Of course, conservatives are handicapped from the outset when these institutions evince hostility toward limited government, American greatness and a cohesive American culture. It’s amazing we even have a fighting chance when Democratic elected officials use government money and power to buy votes with no regard for the destruction this causes these individuals and society as a whole.
Republicans could be defeatist and throw in the towel, or abandon our ideas and seek to become mini-liberals, but both choices are suicidal.
How about, instead, we pick ourselves up and show we believe in the power of ideas and our ability to sell them?
I agree with those arguing we need to be smarter about how we approach Hispanics, the young, blacks, single women and others who routinely vote against us. We can package and present our ideas better and send people who can better relate to these groups to “evangelize” them. But it is even more important that we start preaching our ideas as if we truly believe in them, instead of always being on the defensive and afraid of who we are.
I do not believe blacks vote overwhelmingly Democratic because they are a purely homogenous group of liberal-leaning people. Rather, Democrats have poisoned their minds about Republicans, convincing them we are racists or at the very least don’t have their best interests at heart. It’s an “us” against “them” thing, and it wouldn’t matter if blacks agreed with Republicans on most policy issues; they would still vote against Republicans as long as they believe we are against or don’t care about them.
Similarly, Democrats have convinced many women that Republicans are sexists who are waging war on them and their access to contraceptives. They have also persuaded many people who are reliant on government programs that Republicans are greedy, wretched sorts who don’t care about them either and generally have no compassion.
The irony of all of this is that Democratic policies, especially those of President Barack Obama, have particularly hurt blacks, the poor, the unemployed and those who desperately need a growing economy to escape from this destructive dependency cycle that robs their dignity and their ability to improve their lives.
Perhaps I am hopelessly naive, but I believe we can make inroads into these groups and dismantle these warped stereotypes if we make an intelligent and energetic effort both to counter the left’s lies, indoctrination and demagoguery about our character, and to demonstrate the superiority of our ideas. We have to make the moral case for capitalism and show how our ideas and solutions are more compassionate and promising than liberalism.
Let’s not give up on winning the hearts and minds of black Americans. Let’s not sit still while Democrats continue to portray us as greedy, uncaring and indifferent to the poor. We must make clear that fewer people suffer under free markets. I don’t believe the entirety of the black community and those on government aid have rejected our ideas as much as many of them haven’t really been exposed to them or had their merits clearly articulated. Nor do I believe that most people who are currently dependent on the government for their livelihood want to remain so. It’s crazy and insulting to write them off as perpetual Democrats.
Call me simplistic; call me Pollyannaish. I may well be. But I’m not offering this as some panacea. A multitude of factors worked together to defeat us last Tuesday, but misguided perceptions about Republicans were a large part of it and will continue to be unless we change them.
Regardless of whatever other ideas we employ going forward, let’s show we believe in the winning power of conservative ideas and make a sincere, genuine effort to reach groups that have been soured against us by years of slander and misinformation. It could go a long way.
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