Infighting continued amongst conservatives and Republicans this week. Karl Rove angered Tea Partiers by implying they don’t know how to pick candidates. Majority Leader Eric Cantor told anyone who would listen Republicans need to learn to craft their message better for a broader audience. Every conservative group and politician is scrambling to find a way to appeal to various groups of Americans in a way that will “work” to win them votes. It reeks of desperation…and it’s nothing new.
After every election loss by Republicans in the last 20 years, the media has declared them dead, particularly the conservative wing of the party. It’s a kabuki dance rarely repeated after a loss by Democrats. There was no media conversation about messaging issues or demographic problems in 1994 like there was in 1992. The media didn’t question how John Kerry lost in 2004, and they blamed Al Gore’s loss to George W. Bush in 2000 on cheating by the courts.
When Democrats lose, it’s a fluke or the result of gerrymandering or other circumstances beyond their control. When Republicans lose it’s proof Americans are done forever with their way of thinking. It’s total rejection of their agenda – wishful thinking on behalf of Democrats projected through the megaphone of their fellow travellers in the media.
But poll after poll shows that, on the issues, this is a center-right nation.
So what’s the issue? Why would a country leaning to the right vote for someone like President Obama, who clearly camps on the left bank of the spectrum? Or, worse yet, why would so many right-leaning Americans stay home, not vote and leave their country to the antithesis of what they believe? The answer is less complicated than people who earn money telling you how complicated it is would have you believe.
When Ronald Reagan won in 1980, the media was just as corrupt and in the tank for Democrats. They were no more open to the conservative message than they are now. And they were the only pathway to the public – there was no internet, no cable news.
But Reagan did things few have done since him – he talked over, around, past the media, directly to the people. He didn’t do so in an apologetic way. He didn’t speak like a dog with a tail between his legs. He was clear, confident and worried more about the clarity of what he was saying than the way it would be portrayed by the media. He knew the media wasn’t going to like him, no matter how he articulated his beliefs, no matter how friendly he was to them (and he was friendly to them).