As we discussed last time, part of the issue is getting out and talking to people, being around them, and showing them that there are other sides—that our side isn’t just the fringe. However, just talking to people isn’t enough. What we need to do is talk about the right things.
And what are the rights things. Well it’s what people care about. And more than anything it isn’t the wrong things. And what do I mean by the wrong things? I mean the issues that some of our more idiotic members of the party love to talk about with their constant and incurable foot-in-mouth syndrome.
Let’s deal with some examples.
Obamacare is violating religious liberty by forcing Catholics to buy birth control.
This is an excellent topic because even if you buy a healthcare plan that would provide birth control, you can easily see why forcing someone to do something is wrong.
On the flip side let’s take a page from the Rick “I’m a blithering idiot” Santorum handbook and talk about how ‘birth control is immoral.’ Guess what; it doesn’t matter if you think birth control is immoral, because as a conservative you’re supposed to believe in liberty and that it should be up to individuals. If you want to talk about your beliefs you’re just going to drive people away.
And herein lies the key of what issues to talk about: It’s not about you. Your beliefs don’t matter here. Your pet peeves and favorite issues are irrelevant. Why? Because you want to win, and what matters here are the issues that moderate and independent voters care about. And the trick is to find the issues that they care about that you know you agree with them on (or can convince them on). I’m not saying violate your principles, I’m saying use some common sense and carefully choose which principles you want to focus on.
And at the heart of this is economics. I don’t care what brand of conservative you are, if you dare call yourself a conservative, a Republican, or even a libertarian, you care about economic freedom. And guess what, so do Moderates.
They care about how Obamacare is ruining their healthcare and ruining the economy. They care about government over reach that destroys jobs. They care about high costs of education for their children caused by government subsidies. They care about their tax dollars being wasted on cronyism. And if you call yourself any brand of conservative or libertarian, so do you.
Stick to that.
But I can already hear the whining from the true believers. “But abortion is my central topic, and I need to talk about that with everyone.” Well genius if you wanted to deal in reality you would admit that the explosion in abortion is caused more by terrible welfare policy, subsidies, and tax incentives against marriage….if you get welfare reform you’ll stop the vast majority of abortions from happening. So you can talk about abortion, lose, and have nothing change, or you can talk about economics, win, and get both economic reform and the cuts in abortions you wanted. Hmmm. Tough call. “But, but,” the whining continues, “polls show that when Democrats are talking about expanding abortion it’s hurting them with Hispanic voters” Okay, great, so the Democrats are shooting themselves in the foot with one group of voters bringing them to us…no need to shoot ourselves in the foot with another group of voters and just have a sum-zero. Stick to economics.
“But I think the War on Drugs is terrible” comes the cry from the libertarian front. Who cares. Yes the War on Drugs has been run idiotically, but so has your marketing, as you come off as just a bunch of stoners whom no one likes. You want to see a reduction in the War on Drugs then advocate for economic liberty as it will inevitably involve reeducation in government power in all sectors. Let Colorado and Washington gets the kinks in the system worked out for the next few years before you make another push. Focus on the liberties that will make the biggest difference right now.
“But they called us all racists we need to point out what hypocrites they are” no, no you don’t. Because the longer you talk about it, it only makes the story stay around longer. If a liberal interlocutor brings it up, eviscerate their point quickly with facts and move on—staying on a liberal talking point, even if you’re right, too long only helps plant the liberal talking point in the minds of those around you.
“But I need to talk about my religious beliefs!” No, no you don’t. Unless you’re talking to someone at your church, you should not be discussion your religious beliefs because quite frankly we’re not just trying to get people from your religious background. We need more Catholics, more Buddhists, more agnostics, more Hindus, more Sikhs, more New Agers, more people who don’t know what they are, more of everyone! And if you try to talk about how it’s your particular brand of a relationship with God that drives your political beliefs you are driving away people from every other faith whose virtues are nearly identical to yours. We’re trying to win people who don’t agree with us right now, not just the ones who already do.
Foreign policy is a toss-up of an issue. Know your audience before you bring it up.
So to recap,
Obamacare’s effects on the quality of healthcare
Obamacare’s effects on unemployment
Over regulation hurting the number of jobs
Taxes hurting small business
Stick to economics, and please always make sure you talk about how it affects individuals…moderates and independents don’t care about theory, they barely care about facts, they care about how it affects people. Always show how the policy hurts people like them. It shouldn’t be hard as any policy that doesn’t bring liberty to the economy harms people, so all you have to do is point out the truth. Just be sure you know the shortest way of describing how each point hurts an individual. (For instance, Obamacare has made it harder for doctors to make ends meet, so they are retiring in higher numbers meaning you and your neighbor can’t find a doctor you like as easily. Now I could have described how issues of regulation and supply and demand and death spirals…but that would lose everyone I was trying to convince.) Stick to issues that work. Be accurate. And be as short as you can. That works. Talking about the issues you may be most emotionally worked up about usually don’t.
Do not talk about, I don’t care how strongly you feel, it’s not going to win over the voters you need to win:
The War on Drugs
Oh, one last thing…Don’t mention that you got your information from Limbaugh or O’Reilly or Heritage. Find the same information; it should be easy given that you’re dealing in what is true, from sources that don’t come prepackaged with so much emotional baggage.
You could of course ignore this advice…but then you’re saying you care more about screaming about your pet issue than actually seeing positive change made.