In many conversations with middle-of-the-road and liberal friends, I’ve talked until I’m blue in the face about identifying myself and the organization I work for as conservative rather than Republican. This doesn’t stop them from saying “But you guys had eight years to fix things” any time I bring up the conservative viewpoint or solution to an issue. We have to accept that to a lot of people outside of the movement, conservative and Republican will always be synonymous. In fact, when I was 18 years-old I didn’t know the difference, so I’ll always have a tattoo of the Republican elephant on my right shoulder.
Republican or conservative, being aware of the public’s image of us can be used to our advantage – or to our demise.
The recent National Federation of Young Republicans election is the perfect example of how conservatives must be aware of our relationship with the media and how they’ll portray us. It doesn’t mean we give in on our principles, but that it’s ok to use the media to cultivate an image that will bring more people to our side. While the Young Republicans have never been on my radar (all of my political experience has been outside of party organizations), it won’t be long before people start lumping me in with their newly-elected chair, Audra Shay.
Last week, someone commented on Shay’s Facebook wall “obama bin lauden is the new terrorist....muslim is on there side .....need to take this country back from all these mad coons.......and illegals.” Shay responded, “You tell em Eric! lol.”
Liberal (or Democratic – two can play this game!) websites reported on Shay and her friend’s tasteless comments. Prior to the election, a Gawker blogger wrote, “And she will still probably win her campaign for chairwoman of the Young Republicans. None of these crazy comments disqualifies her from leading them, because this is already what old Republicans say, openly, on TV and on the radio, all the time. So, good luck, Audra Shay. You certainly do represent the future of the Republican party!”
Shay’s election fits perfectly into the image the media has cultivated for Republicans and conservatives – old, racist men. Some people are also having a laugh over a 38 year-old chair of the “Young” Republicans. Well, at least she’s a woman. God help us if she also wears pearls.
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