Friday, February 22, 2013

What not to say, conservatives

The conservatives are trying to have a constructive discussion about how to improve their campaign message. They've mostly decided that their ideals are correct (a premature conclusion), but they sorely need to tweak the message.

To the world outside the conservative bubble, this looks suspiciously like denial, or yet another plan not to change anything. (Some are hoping it's a sign that the GOP has entered the first phase of death.  Let's see, the phases are "denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance," right? Somehow I think breathing will stop before 'bargaining' begins.)

However, according to RedState, some tweaks to the message are still out-of-bounds. RedState derides a young conservative for deriding Rush Limbaugh, while ignoring the constructive ideas in the 10-page article. According to RedState "Thou shalt not publicly castigate Limbaugh." I can be certain this applies to Limbaugh and not every Republican because another headline on the same day was "I am very disappointed with Governor Rick Scott."

Another post on the same topic meanders around to giving Karl Rove the benefit of the doubt concerning his mission to nominate better (less verbally vulnerable) candidates. RedState must have rethought their initial attack on this project, which they labeled as anti-grassroots. So Karl Rove has qualified permission to speak.

The most reasonable post they had on messaging was from February 2012. It is specific in its critique of the 53% meme:
What we’re essentially saying is that the income taxation model is unfair to 5.3 out of 10 of us and so we are going to stand toe to toe against the 4.7 other people and totally say that to them.  And we don’t care if it alienates them because screw them, they aren’t paying taxes anyway and on top of that, we can win even if it’s only with 53% of the vote, so who needs ‘em? 
What should the attitude and the message be? This much more appealing one:
We’re just one society, and it’s all overtaxed and you could afford to do more if you kept more of the money that’s being taken from you.
So what is the lesson for conservatives who want to learn how to deliver the message better? It's hard to suss out. Part of the message seems to be that Limbaugh can say anything stupid or obnoxious, and you must put up with in reverent silence. For all others, check with RedState to find out how far you can go.



Dangerous said...

Hi MP. I appreciate the post in my wheelhouse.
The GOP's best and most effective affirmative messaging has always been on tax cuts. Not tax policy, where they lose the middle-class and the suburbs, but in calling for tax cuts. Any other success has derived from negative message against Democrats.

Now that the public has soured on their tax cut message, they really don't have an affirmative message to deliver that non-adherents will buy. They can earn a draw with spending-cut talk, but most people realize that services and benefits they like are counted in those cuts. So I expect Rove & Company to go back to negative messaging from messengers who don't say anything that could put them out of the running with non-adherents.

This strategy can work if the Dems play soft or things go bad and the GOP can make the Dems take the blame. I don't think that will work as long as Obama stands strong and the GOPers in Congress actually have to take responsibilitiy for something. Until then, in the GOP it will be every man for himself.

ModeratePoli said...

@Dangerous, Good points. Spending restraint could be the GOP's new "affirmative message" if they're willing to put in the hard work of determining how and where to restrain. Neither party has done that yet. It'll be interesting to see their budgets this year and see if they add in the details. I'm not holding my breath.

As for Rove et al being able to pin the blame on the Dems, it sure worked when the Dems had the House, Senate, and White House. Then they got sloppy with how they put together their bills and favored too many of their constituencies. It's harder now because the House doesn't want to give them enough rope to hang themselves (though Rove is pushing that idea). I'm happy with how it is now, at least compared to the likely outcomes if one party or other was too ascendant.