Yes, the liberal media voted early in 2006. The result was a major loss for the conservative movement in the U.S. Fear was projected by the media in order to create the “better-change-now” buzz in the nation.
In addition, the Democrats replicated Republican 72-hour strategies and a number of other excellent “get out the vote” methods. In Maryland and Virginia they even brought out “Slick Willy” himself (President Bill Clinton) to ensure Senatorial victories in these states.
In retrospect, a one–two punch was used in communications. First, the national media exposed “the emperor’s new clothes” with regard to the war in Iraq. Next, a more sophisticated, secondary messaging strategy was used to knockout conservatives. Liberal and Democratic Party messaging sought to impact six distinct demographic groups. The five following groups were part of creating the conservative coup of 2004, which re-elected George Bush:
1. Evangelical Christians
3. African Americans
4. Economic Conservatives
Each group was earmarked to receive a specially crafted message announcing that the GOP could no longer be trusted to actually execute programs based on conservative values.
In retrospect, it is clear that conservatives did not have a compelling, message designed to respond to liberal fear-mongering. During the next two years, if conservatives want to maintain the White House and recapture seats in Congress, they will have to be very strategic in both creating policies and messages that are designed to affect these groups.
In my last commentary, I called the messages that conservatives must communicate “tipping points.” The idea is that proper message delivery in ‘08 may tip voters back towards conservative candidates. In that article, I talked about blacks, Hispanics, and immigration. Let’s look at three remaining points.
Tipping Point 4: Fiscal Follies
The message conservatives must send is that tax-and-spend Democrats have not changed their stripes! Further, Democrats will have to explain to their supporters credible reasons for the changes which must be made. Although Bush will get the blame for the problem, he will not be call racist or “classist” (anti- the poor and middle class) because of the tough choices which must be made.
As the war is reigned in strategically, the Democrats will have to endure the ire of their constituents as budgets are trimmed. Fiscal conservatives will become quickly frustrated with the legislative branch’s lack of creativity during the next two years.
Bush’s financial problems were not just the result of a lack of discipline or an abandonment of conservative principles. Most of the budget rhetoric used during the election failed to point out how “the compromise game” is played during seasons of national war. Insiders say that some very expensive compromises had to be made in order to keep the war funded. Whether this approach was right or wrong will be judged by history.
Tipping Point 5: Muddy Waters in Congress
Conservatives must declare themselves to be the party of national prosperity and protection. This prosperity can not be seen as support of the Enrons and other “fat cats” of big business. Republicans must offer pro-business concepts which can easily be seen as beneficial to the little guy.
The lack of a clear governing agenda by the Democrats must be pointed out again and again. Independents who felt as though legislators were out of touch with reality will soon grow weary of Nancy Pelosi and company. Conservatives must prepare now to do more than simple say, “I told you so.” They must create an alternative --- a Gingrich-like agenda which can be promoted before the next election.
Tipping Point 6: Religious Middle Gets the Light
Evangelical Christians must present a Bible-based set of moral priorities which include ministry to the poor, Christian concepts of a just war, and social justice. This does not mean lessening the priority of the protection of marriage and the sanctity of life. It simply means that the list must be augmented. If the religious community is not clear, it will be victims of media spin once again. This year many liberal candidates emerged as wolves in sheep’s clothing. They misrepresented themselves, their records, and where they plan to take the nation.
For example, Ted Strickland, governor elect of Ohio, has supported a very liberal agenda his entire political life. His beliefs are completely contrary to those of evangelicals and the majority of Americans. He is an ordained minister who has departed ideologically from the evangelical fold, yet at his website, however, the second sentence of his biography quotes an Old Testament scripture concerning justice (Micah 6:8). A brief look at Strickland’s voting record would prove my assertions, but he soundly defeated Ken Blackwell.
Similarly, the liberal congressman, Ben Cardin of Maryland, and a host of others developed confusing media campaigns which painted them as being in the “religious middle.”
Most of the liberal newspapers, from the Washington Post to the New York Times, have pronounced that the “God-gap” is closing. They present this “closing gap” as a trend. I, however, think that this was just a momentary lapse. Additional liberal encroachment on the religious vote is highly unlikely.
The Way Forward
In conclusion, we must be vigilant and monitor the promises that liberals and Democrats will make during the next 18 months. After careful analysis, we should create better answers, speaking to these target communities with one unified voice. If we can pull it off, the nation will know that the conservative movement is not dead. In fact, years from now it may feel like we simply took a walk break during a grueling marathon which we ultimately had won.