By Shannon McGinley, acting executive director, Cornerstone
In today’s technology driven election climate, it’s not enough for Cornerstone to promote pro-family candidates among issue advocates to make sure a conservative agenda resonates with voters. If Republicans want to win, the Republican Party and its top-ticket candidates must develop recognizable pro-family concepts in their campaigns and fully embrace the conservative cause.
Cornerstone can preach to the choir all it wants, but without a modern political party machine to research, target and reach out to new voters and then get them to the polls armed with conservative facts, the choir just won’t add up to a winning tally. The Democrats understood this dynamic, which is why they won, despite their underlying extremism. Republicans denied they were under attack as the enemy overcame them. They assumed voters would pretend social issues aren’t part of modern politics at the same time that Democrats defined Republican positions on these issues for them.
It didn’t help matters that taxpayer-funded Planned Parenthood spent between $5 million and $7 million on the election, joining Democrats in their misinformation campaign that alleged Republicans want to take away women’s birth control options. According to The Hill, the abortion business saw a 98 to 99 percent return on its election spending investment. This type of spending is certainly a formidable enemy for Republicans who, in large part, simply want to reduce the number of abortions and make sure taxpayers aren’t paying for men and women’s contraceptives against their will.
All it would have taken to set the record straight was some defensive Republican messaging explaining Republican positions on these issues and an offensive strike explaining the Democratic lies and their underlying extremism. Yes, Republicans are at a monetary disadvantage because they don’t rely on taxpayers to fund their campaigns and they use private donations instead. But Republicans have to prove their more frugal approach will work in government by making it work electing conservatives to office.
The Democratic Party just removed the last quasi pro-family issue from their platform; namely, that “abortion should be safe … and rare.” To add insult to injury, Democrats included a new provision that promotes taxpayer-funded abortions. President Obama has consistently defended barbaric procedures such as partial-birth abortion and leaving an infant out to die of starvation when an abortion procedure fails. If the new Democratic platform becomes reality, people who morally object to abortion would be forced to pay for these procedures against their will.
These are easy pickings for Republicans. According to Gallup polls this year (here and here), most Americans are pro-life, and the great majority of those who think abortion should be legal would restrict the procedure to rare circumstances. In other words, voters prefer the Republican platform, and if they knew about it, they would find the Democratic platform outrageous.
When Democrats said Republicans were at war with women, Republicans remained silent on the issues and let themselves be defined that way. When Democrats said Republicans planned to eliminate access to contraceptives, Republicans didn’t explain that they simply believe men and women should pay for their own birth control, vasectomies or condoms. When Democrats said Republicans wanted to stifle immigration reform or end public support for higher education, Republicans didn’t approach single-issue voters with their actual positions. Republicans let single-issue voters believe the fabrications and exaggerations of Democrats across the board, and those voters responded accordingly.
Likewise, Democrats exclaimed that Republicans planned to take away Medicare from seniors. Yet, it was the president himself, in his infamous Obamacare bill, who took away millions of dollars from successful free market elements of the program and devoted them to the failing Medicaid system, instead. He added millions of Americans to Medicaid at a time when doctors are fleeing the program or their practice altogether because the numbers don’t add up for them. Republicans didn’t explain that the president was making Medicare less accessible for seniors; they didn’t explain that Democrats were making it harder for lower income families to get good medical care. These were easy targets for Republicans, but they let Democrats define the issues instead. Seniors and lower-income families came out and voted Democrat because of it.
If the Republican Party has any hope of returning to power, Republicans must embrace their party’s platform and reach out to voters with it. Republicans can’t rely on their old sources of information about voters, they have to get out in the world and find new voters who believe in the same things but just don’t know it. In short, Republicans have to ask for votes and explain why their way is better, or they just simply won’t win elections.