"What a difference a day makes," are the words to a popular song. This song is a testimonial about how someone can be smitten by the love bug in just 24 hours. A day can make a world of difference in romance and matters of the heart. The first Tuesday of November 2006 showed that the same is true in politics and cultural trends.
In the new classic book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell showed us that cultural trends can dramatically change if the right circumstances and players are in place. In light of this understanding, I would like to suggest that the recent conservative political bloodbath can be easily reversed- if we can identify several "tipping point" factors.
In an October article for Townhall, I suggested that the Liberal Media had voted early. They put an all-out push to convince several targeted demographic groups of the need to make a change. The liberal media directed stories, polls, and testimonials of disgruntled former conservatives to six target groups.
- 1. Evangelical Christians
- 2. Hispanics
- 3. African Americans
- 4. Economic Conservatives
- 5. Independents
- 6. Gays
The national message of the liberals was simply that the current administration could not be trusted to protect them internally or domestically. The second message the liberals gave came from a strategy I have seen them use for many years. The liberal community often attempts to tell a minority or special interest group that they cannot make it on their own. They suggest that a larger more powerful group is out to get them. Liberals also imply that people have to stay with "their group." No matter have far they could have gone individually. It is implied that they will never outgrow identification with their group. This liberal approach can dreg up xenophobic fears and create an "us-versus-them" mentality that is not easy to shake.
Conservatives, at their best, speak of the potential of the individual. They believe that individuals who are free from unnecessary governmental limitations can achieve far more than their personal history would typically predict. Conservatives are often viewed as pro upper class and anti-poor because there is an understanding that free enterprise, wealth creation, and upward mobility are a part of bringing dignity to work and social enterprise.
An easy way to reverse the mid-term election trends will be to follow-up with each group and to communicate to them the actual losses that occur under liberal leadership instead of the fear-based hype given just before the elections. This means that we must write articles, books, host town halls, and encourage news features that tell the truth.
I had the privilege of talking with Governor Mike Huckabee recently. His grasp of the communications gap between liberals and conservatives is much more in depth than the explanation I have just articulated. In a primarily Democratic state he was able to break the liberal hold on the media through strategic thinking and astute implementation of both programs and messages. As a result, he won 49% of the Black vote in his state. Not bad for a Republican that really came from Hope, Arkansas!
Everyone knows that this is the time for out of the box thinking. So with an open mind, let’s look at three potential "tipping point" messages for the 2008 election.
Tipping Point 1: Ghetto Magic
Hispanics and Blacks were told repeatedly in different ways that Republicans and conservatives do not care about them. For example, a great deal of hoopla has been shared around raising the minimum wage as a symbol of democratic commitment to the average guy. The right message from the Democrats is teamed with the wrong action plan. The minimum wage helps people just beginning to work or those with the least skills.
Unfortunately, a "tip" given to people on the lowest end of the economic spectrum will not change Black or Hispanic ghettos. Ghettos will be changed by large scale economic development which creates new, middle class jobs in viable industries. On a "micro level" an individual will appreciate any raise in pay he is given.
Two years from now, neither Blacks nor Hispanics will be able to see any lasting effect of this unimaginative approach to a major problem. These groups will be screaming the slogan of a Wendy’s commercial of twenty years ago: "Where’s the Beef?"
Tipping Point 2: Border Bounce
The Democratic Party will have a major fight on their hands attempting to change immigration practices in our nation. There are no easy answers here. I predict that two years from now the new House and Senate will have nothing substantive to show for endless debates and rhetoric. Therefore, immigration reform will remain an important campaign issue for ’08. Conservatives will have to be bold enough to give conceptual leadership to this economic and security conundrum.
Tipping Point 3: Entrepreneurial Glass Ceilings
A new breed of entrepreneurial, religious Blacks will be to glad accept heart felt invitations to join the conservative movement. People like Herman Cain and a host of other successful Black business people are showing that there is no glass ceiling in many companies or industries. Growing numbers of Black mid level managers, doctors, lawyers, and professions are looking for positive ways to contribute to their community. Men like Michael Steele Lt. Governor of Maryland proved that large numbers of Blacks are willing to entertain the conservative message. Black leaders will have to ask the Democratic Party, "What have you done for us lately?"
In my next article, I will attempt to give additional "tipping point" concepts which may be effective with evangelical Christians, fiscal conservatives, independents, and gays.