Part Two of Seven
Let us pretend you are a Republican candidate; your opponent has invited you to participate in a debate on the major issues, including spending, taxation, and job growth. The moderator, a journalist, turns to you for your first question and asks how your religious views incorporate into your views of government.
This is because:
(a) A person’s religious views are of considerable importance when selecting a candidate
(b) The press wants to verify your attitudes toward the First Amendment and what your take is on the definition of Church and State
(c) The press and your opponent are working together, and want you to make a comment about abortion, or evolution, or confess to some holy vision so they can paint you as a whackjob
What was your guess? Hint: the answer is always (c) and will always be (c).
When during the Republican primary debates a question was brought up about Gardasil, the intent was not to determine whether Gov. Rick Perry had a mixed record on government intrusion; it was to take Republicans off the topic of the economy and get them squabbling about something that had no federal importance.
When Todd Akin was asked about his views on abortion, it was not to determine whether he was pro-life, but to get him off the subject of job creation in Missouri; abortion is not about the economy, and that’s what tanked him.
Worse, Richard Mourdock was defeated in Indiana—a state that to our knowledge is actually separated from Indiana by a completely different state—it was not because voters disagreed with his views on gas prices, but because Todd Akin fielded a question on abortion.
Republicans must learn that social issues are not only distractions to the central message of conservative government, but are actively utilized by Democrats to defeat Republicans in polls. And as far as the Czar can tell, only Newt Gingrich seems to have realized this, and then only recently. Consider this exchange from the primary debates:
CNN’s John King: Would you like to take some time to respond to [your ex-wife’s statement you wanted an open marriage]?
Gingrich: No, but I will. I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office, and I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that.
This exchange was not applauded because of its wittiness or completeness; it was applauded because the public saw through it.
Republicans need to get out of the social issue business. Questions on abortion, immigration, education, religion, same sex marriage, welfare reform, legalized drugs, and so on, are a non-starter. They are only asked—by the media at the direction of folks in the nearest Democratic campaign—to generate a false controversy, expose some plan to cut spending so that the public can be terrified, or to cause some group of voters to go with that Democratic opponent.
Every answer to those types of topics should be one of the following:
(a) This is a personal matter; and while it is of great importance to me personally, this is not the appropriate forum for these sorts of discussions.
(b) My emphasis is on job creation, economic growth, and reduced spending and reduced taxation. The public did not put me this far into the campaign to talk about those items, but to solve the immediate financial crisis they face, and maybe when we get those solved we can circle back, okay?
(c) My campaign is not focusing on any of those issues because they are not appropriate at this level. Talk to your [always list a Democratic incumbent] about why he hasn’t followed through on any of those promises he made. I am not making them, but am determined to stay on topic about employment, taxes, spending, and making it easier to earn money and get a job.
Take a cue from the Libertarians: they don’t win elections ever, but at least they stay on topic. Their supporters know what the answers are going to be before the questions are asked. That makes it very easy to stay on message and develop a cohesive brand.
So who will fight the big fights? Conservatives will. Otherwise, we would form our own political party. The Catholic Church is a big brawler. Social media. Evangelicals. These guys cut across political parties and allow you to keep your hands clean. An out-of-work Latino can vote for a Republican without worrying about his uncle being deported by that candidate later. A gay banker doesn’t have to vote for a Democrat because he tires of the Republican candidate condemning him every two weeks. And so on.
How did this become rocket science for you?