The New Rules for Radicals

Posted: Jan 31, 2013 8:00 AM


Here’s a list of rules for the GOP to consider if it wants to win another presidency in the 21st century, according to S.E. Cupp.


Excerpted from Townhall Magazine's February Closing Argument installment by S.E. Cupp (note: Excerpts of this column ran in the New York Daily News on Dec. 12,

Republicans still reeling from the November elections and fiscal cliff negotiations that left them with a bruising 43:1 ratio of revenue to the cuts they sought might be in the mood for some payback.

But before they prepare to go to the mattresses, it might behoove GOP leadership to take a moment to look inward. There’s a reason President Obama won re-election despite a sputtering economy and a failed record of broken promises. And, there’s a reason the Republican brand has suffered. It has little if nothing to do with our ideas: conservative values—like limited government, gun rights and life—are still very popular.

But if we want to win another presidency in the 21st century, I suggest we consider the following new rules going forward:

Democrats aren’t the Visigoths. We won’t attract voters by convincing them liberals are terrible people. Conservatism has an uplifting message that we need to articulate, explain and promote at every opportunity. And smile more often—voters will be far less terrified of us if we don’t look like we want to eat their children.

Banish the “O” word. Conservatives must stop explaining conservatism based on everything Obama is not. Our policies exist apart from the president and apart from Democrats. Let’s try to explain them without referencing the Left.

Disregard the shiny object. Celebrities are fun, sure. But they’re also, for the most part, morons. Clint Eastwood, Jon Voight and whomever else offers to help our cause will not be foisted on the American people as spokespeople for the movement. Except in very rare cases, they’re reckless, they’re unserious, and they’re bad communicators.

Don’t endorse stupid. The Todd Akins of the party cannot be coddled, excused or funded. Strong opinions on abortion, gay marriage and other social issues are welcome, but junk science is not.

Vet like we mean it. You don’t get to run for office (with the full support of the party) just because you exist. The party needs to vet candidates more thoroughly and with the express understanding that even small state campaigns are national opportunities.

Populate the airwaves. All of them. Conservatives can’t keep talking in a vacuum on Fox News and right-wing radio. We need fresh, new voices to articulate our messages on MSNBC, CNN, “The Daily Show,” Bill Maher, “The View” and everywhere else. Young, diverse thought leaders who are media savvy and watchable should be booked on unorthodox outlets, not just the ones deemed safe and friendly.

Get a new ruler. The question isn’t do we move further to the Right or toward the center. We need to represent both ends of the conservative spectrum and everything in between. We will not leave social conservatives without a party, nor will we kick the moderates and libertarians out. At every opportunity, we will gleefully boast to voters that we are an intellectually diverse coalition.

Show and Tell. (But mostly Show). It isn’t enough to merely tell people that conservative policies are better. We have to show them. We need to look for microcosmic examples of conservatism in action—a successful charter school; an entrepreneur with private-sector solutions to public-sector problems; a philanthropic group solving a community concern. These are our success stories. Make them famous.

Get out of the Beltway. The same tired, old establishment voices have been crafting party messaging for decades, and what worked 30 years ago may not work today. Step outside once in a while, leave D.C., invite younger thought leaders to the table and consider unorthodox ideas. (Unless they are Newt Gingrich’s.)

Do not malign aggrieved parties. Minorities, women, gays, immigrants and anyone else who didn’t vote for us this year aren’t the enemy. They’re opportunities. Calling them ignorant and lazy won’t endear them to us. Show them how conservative ideas can make their lives better, not how they are making our lives worse.

Unicorns aren’t real, but bipartisanship is. Treating agreement like it’s a mythical creature is an opportunity squandered. We should look for bipartisan solutions to poverty, education and immigration, and remember that solving problems is the point of politics. Political argument is not an end in itself.

These new rules might be painful to read, and they will be hard to implement, but our party made some serious missteps over the past four years. Let’s not repeat them.

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