There have been all kinds of explanations offered for the most recent Republican electoral failure. Most involve a declaration something like “don’t blame me… it’s those other guys.” For some, there is an element of truth… but only an element. For all their supposed intellectual prowess, those who have risen to the peak of the party are completely missing the boat. This failure is even more devastating to their fortunes than some of the uninspiring, moderate positions and candidates endorsed by the Republican elites.
Even the Russians have noticed that Obama’s base is composed of economic and cultural illiterates. If this is so, what drives them and how are they reached? It is instructive to consider the thoughts of a single mother who was interviewed prior to the election. She was voting for Obama because he “cared about her”. She didn’t know too much about politics, but she liked that he was getting her free health care. His class warfare message found a home in her mind. He was against the rich and for the poor.
Of course she didn’t know much about what was really going on, but somehow Barack Obama reached her on an emotional level. Then there was the woman celebrating the 2008 election because she was going to get help with her mortgage and other bills with the president’s stash of Obama money. Of course there was no reality to her fantasy, yet, it controlled her actions. For her, it was reality. The people who vote for Democrats generally do so on an emotional level based on their hopes and desires, rather than basing their decisions on what they see.
In the face of all this irrationality, Republicans come back with facts and logic… and they wonder why their message falls on deaf ears. For people who jealously look at those who live a little better, and often work a lot harder, the message of the government taking from the more successful to support their desires is just too hard to resist. Never mind that, considering the massive debt Washington has accumulated and the unprecedented levels of spending, taking all the money of the wealthy wouldn’t even make a dent in the fiscal disaster that is our nation. But his followers ears are tickled by the class warfare rhetoric and the lemmings just follow him right over the cliff.
So, what can Republicans – and Libertarians – learn from this observation? It appears to be something the logical mind has difficulty comprehending. Instead of pushing facts and figures at people who don’t really care, it’s time start speaking the language that the voters understand. It’s not abortion. It’s not national debt. It’s not national security and our stature in the world. So many are only concerned with the warm fuzzies of having an administration that “cares” about them. Others are only concerned about what the government can actually do for or them.
We have fallen so far from the day when John F. Kennedy called on us to “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” that the murdered president would not even recognize the land ruled by his own party. So many don’t share traditional American values anymore. So much revisionist history has been poured into their heads that they cannot even comprehend the truth when they see it.
If the Republicans or even, the Libertarians, want to get through to this entitlement oriented block of voters, they need to take the logic of their cause – when they are right – and boil it down to the impact these policies will have on the average, self-centered, American voter. They need to appeal to the emotions with a stronger message than the bearers of gifts.
This will not be easy. This goes against the way most of us think. Yet, it must be done if our nation is to survive. It’s as if those of us who love our country were speaking Swedish to an audience from Brazil. We simply have to learn to speak the language of the audience we are trying to reach… and that language is a touchy, feely, “what’s in it for me”. Our message is right, our words are failing us. Not even the great Karl Rove has figured that out.