People are People (or: the Budget Crisis as a Microcosm for Conservative Messaging)
Here we are, on the first day of the Government Shutdown. Conservatives and Republicans certainly have differing perspectives on how we got here and whether or not the strategy that got us here was an effective strategy in order to fight back against Obamacare, a topic that Mark and Andrew talked about at length with Reason Editor-in-Chief Matt Welch on The Broadside last night. Most of us on our side can agree, that at this juncture and regardless of the strategy employed, that the Republican Congress sent multiple spending bills to the Senate which were summarily rejected.
We know that. And it doesn’t matter unless we refocus our efforts not on our Democratic opponents, but on the impact that both Obamacare and the Government shutdown has on people. You see a lot on Twitter that the “talking heads” on social media, particularly on Twitter, are droning on and on about the people impacted by the government shutdown. About people who are either impacted directly on indirectly by the shutdown, whether they be non-essential federal employees or they be tourists who are trying to visit a national park, are contemptible and are not worth of serious consideration by conservatives during this budget showdown.
If that’s the thinking that is pervasive in the Republican Party, than we have a serious problem, because that attitude is not going to grow votes for the conservative cause. Because the movement has a lot of problems relating to people.
At the end of the day it is average people who are being harmed by the events of today. It is the thousands of federal employees, the contractors, the businesses who are near government installations, that are feeling the impact of this government shutdown that was brought forth by the President and Harry Reid’s refusal to negotiate. It is average working class Americans who are negatively impacted by the implementation of Obamacare and the diminishing quality and increasing cost of health insurance in this country, all while decreasing the availability and quality of care. Republicans need to be telling their stories during this budget crisis instead of playing the blame game.
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And this is not the only issue on which conservatives have problem relating to average people. Let’s face it, conservative ideas and principles are better for the country and better for the people. Unfortunately, that fact is often captured in financial capital and not human capital. The Democrats have been running laps on conservatives and Republicans for years on their ability to relate to people and to explain things in a way to average Americans and undecided voters that they can easily understand. Bill Clinton was and remains a master at this, which is why the current administration uses him to this day as the “Explainer-in-Chief”.
The NRCC today at least made a partial blow personalizing the shutdown today:
But trying to win this battle through memes is not going to turn out voters on Election Day, and that’s what this budget showdown is ultimately about. It’s about making our policies about the people.
The current budget crisis and the focus on trying to win the news cycle with short-term victories over who gets blamed for what instead of using policy, persuasion, and real-world examples. Unless we can figure out a way to do that in conjunction with the stats and logic that already prove our points, our side is going to be in a pretty bad way at the ballot box.