So I was watching the coverage of the Republican convention and one of the things that the right-leaning hosts on Fox News and the liberal-leaning hosts on the broadcast networks could agree on was that the ethnic and racial diversity of Republican governors and younger Senators was a good sign for Republicans given the country’s changing demographics. I’m less sure of that. I think that a bigger problem Republicans have is that the message machine is broken when it comes to communicating with younger voters who have not been strongly socialized in politically conservative families or those who have no familial history of American conservative politics. Basically if you aren’t already inclined to consume right-leaning media, it is much tougher for Republicans to reach you now than it was thirty years ago – ironically this is despite the proliferation of conservative media outlets. This isn’t the kind of problem that is best solved by putting a Hispanic on the presidential ticket. That might help with the perception that the Republicans are the party of white identity politics, but absent a strategy for communicating with younger and nonwhite voters, the impact of such a choice is likely to be very limited. The best time to make inroads is between elections. Focus on explaining a right-leaning reform or critiquing a liberal-leaning policy. Get a couple of major ideas across and explain them in terms of common interest and shared values. The broad center-right has a case on Medicare reform, partial birth abortion, Social Security reform, and taxation (the entitlement and tax issues are linked of course.) This can’t be done by the commercial conservative media. That isn’t their job and it isn’t their business model. This is a job for foundations and Super-PACs to reach people in nonconservative media outlets. I can’t overstate how little intelligible conservative argument reaches wide swaths of America. A lot of votes and minds are being conceded without a fight, and since there is so much congenial conservative broadcasting so easily available, it is easy to lose track of how much of the fight to persuade is being lost every day.
Tuesday, September 4, 2012, 6:04 PM