Derek Hunter

If there’s one thing at which conservatives and Republicans excel, it’s snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Republicans would control the Senate today were it not for poorly prepared candidates and badly run campaigns. As the political world prepares for the 2014 election, it’s equally important to remember the mistakes from the past and be proactive on the issues that will motivate voters to go to the polls.

The Democrats are out of favor with the public, but their drop hasn’t correlated to an equal hike in support for Republicans. Only some of the fall in Democrats’ favorability has landed in the Republican column; the rest supports neither. Those people either will vote for whichever candidate reached them last or simply not vote.

Republicans have to reach out to them and win their vote, not simply hope they vote against the party of Obamacare and the awful economy.

To repurpose an old adage: “The person who opposes my opponent is not my supporter.” Politics has been described as war by other means. But, unlike war, politics leaves an easy out that allows all of us to be our own Switzerland – not voting. In a year with an unpopular Democrat president and so many Democrat senators in red states up for re-election, not voting constitutes a vote for the incumbent.

To address this issue and offer some free advice to all potential candidates running for the House or Senate, might I suggest the following: You will be asked questions about issues over which you, should you win, can do nothing; ignore them.

You will be asked about gay marriage. You will be asked about abortion and contraception and rape and any number of other issues elected officials can opine on but actually do nothing about. DON’T ANSWER THEM.

You can oppose abortion and gay marriage all you want, but you aren’t going to change the laws on them. A court ruling you can do nothing about controls abortion. As for gay marriage, the battles have moved beyond the court of opinion to real courts and state legislatures. This may be frustrating, but wishing it wasn’t so won’t change anything.

Rape and contraception aren’t federal issues, so there’s no answer to give. Rape is evil, and states should prosecute those who do it to the fullest extent of the law. Period. And if you oppose contraception, don’t use it. But you aren’t running for Pope; you’re running for Congress. As such, your personal views on the issue are as relevant as what you had for dinner last week is.

So what should a candidate, or anyone for that matter, say when these issues are brought up in debates, discussions or by the media? Answer the question you want to answer, not the one asked.

Derek Hunter

Derek Hunter is Washington, DC based writer, radio host and political strategist. You can also stalk his thoughts 140 characters at a time on Twitter.