There’s an emerging train of thought that one reason Republicans might be headed for only a modest victory in November rather than the “Red Wave” is that they have failed to put forward their own positive message. What exactly would they do if they had majorities in Congress?
The criticism sounds plausible enough, but is easy to overstate. First, the out party runs against the in party, and in order to do that, the main message has to be about the failings of the in party. Not only is this not rocket science, it’s particularly sound advice where (1) the failings of the in party are so obvious and so painful that even the press can’t hide them, and (not coincidentally) (2) the in party’s principal strategy is to pretend it’s not really the in party — that instead, Donald Trump is The Ghost President, it’s still January 6 (indeed, it’s never anything but January 6), and the “insurrectionist” overthrow of democracy is just around the corner.
All that is baloney, and Republicans shouldn’t be fooled into buying it — that is, they shouldn’t act as if they have a record to defend in this election. Biden, Schumer and Pelosi, all of whom are way underwater, have the record to defend. Remember this and make them do it.
The second reason the “positive message” theory is easy to overstate is that Republicans have no single, commanding voice to carry the banner. Ordinarily, the main voice of the out party tends to be its most recent Presidential candidate. That won’t work this time because, for one thing, its most recent Presidential candidate is the problem not the solution. For whatever one may think of Donald Trump’s term in the Oval Office (and for the most part I think highly of it), his irresponsible, self-involved, and possibly illegal behavior after the 2020 election — behavior that’s getting worse not better — abets the Democrats rather than challenges them. And of course Trump is to say the least a divisive figure inside the Party, largely because that’s the way he wants it.
Still, to the extent there is something to be gained by putting forth a positive message — say, an updated version of the Contract with America that won a stunning victory in 1994 — the questions are, who should be its spokesman, and what should it say?
The truth is that Republicans don’t have a single spokesman. Their leading figures other than Trump — Cotton, DeSantis, Pompeo, and Pence (and to an extent McConnell and McCarthy) — can carry the message, but because none is yet a commanding figure, its effectiveness and resonance will depend on making sure it’s the same message.
That would ordinarily be a Herculean feat, but this time we have help, namely, the neon-light luminescence of the Democrats’ blunders. When the other side is giving you a guided tour of what to do, hey, count your blessings and take them up on it!
So here’s the message in a nutshell:
What we’re doing now is failing. You are worse off now than when the Democrats took over and it’s easy to see why: Reckless, carefree deficit spending that spikes the higher prices you pay every day; giveaways to favored constituencies at the expense of the working man; hecktoring shame driven by a poisoned view of American history that paints one race as callous bigots and the others as helpless victims; and an educational establishment that believes your kid is state property and you as parents should bug out. With thinking like that, it’s no happenstance that criminals and drug pushers run wild while the police are scourged as racist thugs.
This is wrong and we will change it. We know how to do better because we’ve done better before, when crime was falling and real incomes were rising.
First, control of education will be restored to parents. The Woke education establishment and its allied teachers unions will take a step back. In assessing nominees for high office, America will be viewed as a good and great country rather than as something to be ashamed of. Sexual and other minorities will be respected and protected but will not control the national agenda through cultural bullying or otherwise. Working and saving will be rewarded rather than punished. Government spending will be at last resort rather than a slap-happy first option. Criminals will be put in jail and police on the street rather than vise versa.
The past is done and we can’t change it. But we can change the future if we chart the right course. The course we’re on now is not merely wrong but disastrous. Your standard of living is at risk and America’s place in the world is shrinking. We can do better, and with Republican control of Congress, we will.