To Win, We Must Make Things Clear
The key to conservative victory in elections, and then turning electoral victories toward policy, is to make things clear. Most Americans are conservative, although they often do not know it because the left hides facts and tries to keep us confused. Name-calling and fear-mongering are the left's version of political rhetoric.
An excellent example of how this works is the debate over abortion. A study of the results of the various polls on abortion actually shows that most Americans who call themselves "pro-choice" or supporting Roe v. Wade are really neither pro-choice nor in favor of Roe v. Wade.
Carly Fiorina recently noted that disconnect when she stated: "Have you ever read the Democratic Party platform? Well, here's what it says: any abortion, at any time, at any point in a woman's pregnancy, for any reason, to be paid for by taxpayers. … Do you agree with that? Nobody agrees with that! Even people who think they are pro-choice don't agree with that."
Bingo! The left never presents issues honestly, and to the extent that we try to respond to issues the left has framed, we lose. To win, we must make things clear. This was part of the genius of Reagan. How can we do it?
First, we must clear out the clutter. In the Senate, that means ending the filibuster, which allows senators to hide their real positions from voters. In Congress generally, it means ending the unsavory penchant for sloppily pasting amendments on bills and creating bills too long and complex for people to understand. Clarity is our weapon, and we must use that weapon directly.
Second, we must craft bills (or policy positions) that are short and simple enough for almost every voter to understand. It is the left that lusts for chaotic and gargantuan legislative creatures that require the mysterious interpretations of insider punditry and leave ordinary Americans as parts of this rabble or that crowd.
Here is how this tactic could work. Pass by a roll call vote in both houses of Congress a bill regulating abortion that reads thus:
No abortion may be performed after the seventh month of pregnancy except in case of rape or incest or to protect the life of the mother.
Any physician who performs an abortion in violation of this act shall be guilty of felony.
The overwhelming majority of Americans approve of what this proposed law would do. Those two sentences are easy enough for almost anyone to understand. Those Democrats who voted in Congress against this bill would be exposed as the radical pro-abortionists that they are. Obama would, of course, veto this bill, and Democrats would, of course, sustain his veto – but the real divide between the left and America would now be unmistakable.
We then ought to take the simple language of this bill and the roll call vote in Congress and mail it to every household in America, and post these on every website we control. This would also make a great television or even radio political ad, so short that even the ephemeral attention span of most Americans would not be tested.
When the left makes its predictable whine of extremism, we respond by saying: "What, exactly, is extreme about this bill? The language of this bill follows very closely what the overwhelming majority of Americans believe ought to be the law. Are most Americans, then, 'extremists' to Democrats?"
This is the approach conservatives ought to take on every policy issue. Put our proposals in short, specific language in legislative bills and convention platform planks so that what we believe and what we propose can be grasped very quickly and accurately. Look at polling data to see what is most popular with voters.
How about a bill that allows the Keystone Pipeline? The CBS News and USA Today polls show that 60% of Americans favor just that, and ABC News shows an even higher percentage of 65% favoring the Keystone Pipeline.
There are plenty of issues that can be defined clearly and are strongly supported by a conservative America. We will begin to regularly win political issues when we make the conservative response to issues clear and concrete.