Friday, November 9, 2012

Video Episode 5: An Open Letter to Republicans

This is my "response to the election" post.  It's an open letter to conservatives and Republicans.  I am including this post as both a video and the actual letter.  Some of the wording is a bit different but it's worth watching and then reading.

For those that have listened to our Election Night coverage final episode on the podcast feed (you can get it by going to our TalkShoe page), you will no doubt hear how I initially reacted to the election results.  I, like so many other conservatives, thought that there was a good chance for Governor Romney to win the election.  I've taken a few days to digest the truth and fiction of the election results and want to share my thoughts and ideas on where we as conservatives need to go in order to move forward.  This is especially true for the Republican party.

The goal of any political party is to have its members elected into leadership positions.  At a regional, even state level the Republican party has done this successfully.  You only need to look at the House of Representatives to see this fact.  Unfortunately, when it comes to larger elections, there is an element missing that desperately needs to be addressed.

First of all, we cannot change what has been done.  Ranting and raving is pointless and leads to being labeled as extreme, mocked or ignored.  In their attempt to lay blame, many have looked at the results of Tuesday and come up with any number of scapegoats.  This has only worked to ostracize these people and works counter to the goal of opening the eyes of the majority of actual voters to the truths of the Conservative message and the good that it can do for American and her citizens.

It is my belief that the conservative message needs to be re-tooled in such a way as to be easier to digest.  I don't mean that it needs to be modified or twisted in any way, simply that it needs to be presented in a manner that does not immediately cause a knee-jerk reaction from the listener.  Solid conservative principals work but the environment of today's media have pigeon-holed the concepts based on the arguments.  It's important that the values and concepts remain static while the way we say things change.

This leads to my second point, and it is one that has been made by many.  That is the fact that the Democrats and liberals have managed to take control of the talking points and define the debate.  Because of this, We as conservatives are left to play "catch-up" in their games and because the message still sounds like one from our grandparents, we end up losing the popularity contest that has replaced true political thinking in this country.

In line with the first concept of rebuilding the conservative message, we need to be mindful of the realities of the new media environment that we live in.  While I do include blogs, vlogs, podcasts and social media in this set, I also mean the 24 hour news cycle and the desire to fill it with ratings building content.  In 2010 when the Tea Party worked its bags off to return the House to a level of fiscal sanity and won, the media proudly proclaimed that, "the American people want the two parties to work together" while liberals attacked the group as "Tea Baggers."  They did this instead of identifying accurately that the voting public were tired of Congress wasting taxpayer dollars.

Conservatives and Republicans need to identify better ways to address this dilemma   It's not just a matter of coming out and explaining the realities of a trillion dollar deficit, the consequences of expanded government involvement in the lives of the population or the dangers of botched foreign relations.  There are too many TV channels that viewers flip to, too many Top 40 songs they will listen to and too many celebrities that will do crazy things for attention.  All of these things mean that conservatives need to build good sound bytes that can be consumed and contain the conservative answer in 140 characters or less.  It's not an easy thing to do but there are enough social media savvy conservatives to do it well.

Actually, one thing that our candidates are very good at doing is creating bad sound bytes.  We heard them all over the place this election season and I'm not going to repeat them here.  These form the basis of my third point.  Our candidates for national offices, specifically in the Senate and for the President, need to be very well coached on two key points.  One is knowing when not to say something.  The other is concept of sticking with a stance when they have started on it.  I heard too often how Romney "flip-flopped" on his stances.

In all bluntness, it is my belief that the Republican leadership needs to take the stance that any candidate that runs for these offices should be vetted on their positions and any that are found to be willing to change their positions based on polls or audience be disqualified.  I'm not saying that every candidate has to run on conservatism, rather I'm saying that the message and platform a candidate starts with should be the same that they end with, wherever that end may be.  Again, the purpose of a party is to have its members elected.  If this election showed us anything, it showed us that the Internet can be used for people to remember what happened before the "etch-a-sketch" moment.

I'd love to say that there is a way to cure foot-in-mouth disease as well.  Unfortunately the simple fact is that there isn't.  Politicians spend a lot of time in front of microphones.  There are going to be times when they are live when they shouldn't be, and because of that politicians need to be wary of those.  My grandmother had a saying, "never say anything you wouldn't want published in the newspaper."  The Internet is today's newspaper and it streams video and audio very well.  Our candidates need to remember that.

Speaking of candidates, I think the party also needs to clear the board for the Presidential candidates.  We have seen the same faces and heard the same (or in some cases different) messages from all of them.  McCain and Romney both ran against George W. Bush in 2000.  Now that both of them have proven that they can't win, it's time to let the rest of the pack go.  I know this is harsh but it appears to me that the model used to be that they would eventually "have their turn."  No longer can the race for the Presidency be based on turns or tries.  Again, the Internet is very good at reminding people what candidates have said in the past. It also allows liberals to bring out the "flip-flops" that I mentioned before.

I made this as an open letter and based the ideas on my open observations.  I'm not going to lay the blame of the loss of this election at anyone's feet but if the Republican party does not change things we are destined to continue down the path that has been set.  Many different methods of idealism have their place, but unfortunately it appears that only a few have become the standard for the elected members of our party.  As a rank amateur I know that there are better heads than mine that can take these suggestions and run with them.  I only hope that this happens.

Thanks for reading, thanks for listening to the blog and thanks for watching the videos.  Join us for our regular podcasts, produced every Sunday night, where you will hear different words in a different order!

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