On Thursday, I started a column about the problems of the political right, but there are too many to cover in one column, so here we are again.
Again, this qualifier:
I recognize there are major differences between the various factions of the political right – social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, national security conservatives, Tea Partiers, etc. – and all bleed into each other to varying degrees. Each has its problems and strengths. But for purposes of brevity I will just refer to them all nebulously as “Republicans.” It may irritate some, but tough. This is about politics, not pandering.
Now that that’s out of the way…
Aside from simply being awful at conveying ideals and principles most Americans share in a way those Americans can understand, Republicans tend to get knotted up in irrelevancies when it comes to electoral politics.
If you weren’t already angry with me, just hold on.
Republicans spend an awful lot of time talking about issues most Americans don’t care about – especially in a horrible economy – or government isn’t going to do anything about.
Take gay marriage. Most Republicans oppose it, but they could not pass an amendment when they had Congress and public opinion on their side. Now, they have neither, and progressives have outmaneuvered them and, yet again, obtained their objectives through the courts.
Without that amendment, the gay marriage debate is over. You don’t have to accept it or endorse it or be the least bit happy about it. But talking about it in the political arena serves no purpose other than to turn off voters who could make the difference in the next election. We need to move on.
It’s a similar situation with abortion. A solid 20 percent of people say they determine their votes based on this issue. And polls show most people are open to limits or bans on abortion or restrictions that make them harder to obtain.
On Thursday, I asked when was the last time a Republican candidate made you laugh with them rather than at them? Today, I ask: When is the last time you heard of people changing their position on abortion because of something a candidate or commenter on an Internet post said?
So, take your state-level victories where you can find them. But keep in mind you’re spending a lot of time and energy talking about an issue that won’t change one mind, and you’re opening yourself up to a media minefield of questions about exemptions, rape and all the other irrelevant things used to distract voters from the issues they really do base their votes on.