By Robert Schlesinger |
The GOP problem is primarily based on poor tone and messaging combined with an antiquated form of reaching voters. Republicans need to re-examine how they can best appeal to the voter without sounding bitter, cold, or detached from today's economic and social realities. The cut, slash, and burn economic message touted by many Republicans failed in the last election. Also, the anti-immigrant rhetoric by a number of Republicans significantly hurt us with Hispanics.
Republicans can win if they adopt a message and promote policies of conscientious conservatism where they lay out a vision of how to solve our nation's problems, while at the same time push for a message of responsible and efficient government that focuses on accountability and results. Republicans need to define and present specific policies on how to eradicate poverty, help every child achieve a quality education, and lower the cost of increasing health premiums. This is about people's lives: the single mother who is struggling, the sick grandfather who is alone, and the young graduate who feels hopeless.
Sadly, President Barack Obama is making a strong sales pitch for his liberal agenda, where he demonizes the rich, tramples on the religious communities who don't agree with him, blames Republicans, and offers the status quo on expansive entitlements and bigger government. So far, he has been able to convince the American people that he "cares" and understands their plight, which is appealing to the majority of Americans—many who are not political.
However, President Obama's status quo on spending and entitlements does create a nation of takers that is unsustainable in the future. Under President Obama, more Americans are living in poverty and are growing dependent on government for their basic needs. President Obama will leave a legacy of greater deficits and lack of economic growth and opportunities for Americans, which is where the Republicans have a chance to make their case.
Conscientious conservatism includes responding to the needs and struggles of Americans with a responsible and efficient government and incorporating outside organizations that want to invest in the American people. Republicans want less taxes so we can create jobs; however, we cannot win by solely focusing on an economic message of lower taxes and smaller government.
While I believe that lower taxes and less government intrusion will help foster much needed economic growth, Republicans need to promote a broader message and promote compassionate solutions on how to tackle immigration reform, ensure quality education for every child, and reduce poverty. For instance, the bipartisan approach to immigration reform is a positive step in helping Republicans to compete for the Latino voter. If House Republicans kill the bill, they will continue to derail their ability to build support in a community that cares deeply about immigration, and President Obama will continue to politicize the issue and blame Republicans.
Republicans know that government has a limited role and more government infringes on people's God-given rights and freedoms. By exposing government's inefficiencies and engaging other stakeholders such as faith-based organizations, businesses, and nonprofits, conservatives and Republicans can win back the hearts and minds of Americans. Appearing anti-immigrant, antigovernment, and anti-anything that's not conservative will only continue to isolate voters who already believe the Republican brand is tarnished.
Don't we want to sell the message of how each and every American should have the freedom and opportunity to prosper, achieve, and dream? This freedom is not achieved by depending on government; it comes from the innovative spirit of every American. Along with a revamping of their voter outreach efforts, Republicans can once again win if they adopt a compassionate and thoughtful message that appeals to all Americans.
About Mercedes Schlapp Cofounder of Cove Strategies
Ford O'Connell Republican Strategist and Political Analyst
Jamie Chandler Political Scientist at Hunter College
Brad Bannon President of Bannon Communications Research