Enough of the blame game. Enough acting like things will turn around with more organization, more leadership, more Trump, less Trump, more marketing to women, minorities, young people, more, more…enough!
Don’t get me wrong, I love the ideas. Millennial Outreach? Yes, please! Rocky Mountain Black Conservatives? My heroes! Leadership training? Excellent! In fact, there are too many fine initiatives to mention. But reaching Colorado’s increasingly blue market requires one thing they all lack:
An open door.
And without that door, all our great initiatives won’t make a dent in Colorado. They just won’t. But that can change.
1. This is a blue state getting bluer. Every trend has gone one direction for decades, and we’ve lost far too many customers (the voters). We’re here; they’re over there. And “there” is getting further away.
2. It is far more difficult to win back lost customers than to get them in the first place.
3. Our opponent—The Democrat Party—has its greatest strengths in the fastest growing demographics.
4. Worse yet, we are largely walled out from these communities. For instance, our women’s groups have fantastic messages—but how many suburban women hear them?
5. Meanwhile, our opponent owns the Big 3 Influencers of public opinion: Media, Academia, Entertainment. Controlling the narrative, these Influencers drown us out.
6. Our President has great strengths, but his message hasn’t played well in Colorado. The polls overwhelmingly reflect this, especially among Colorado’s largest voting bloc—Unaffiliated voters.
7. Young people are turning out more, voting Democrat by huge margins.
I could go on, but do you see my point? Things like better organization are great, but we can’t organize our way back into the hearts of Colorado voters. Greater fundraising, smarter technology, bigger ground games—these good things won’t break through the Wall. It’s far too big; too resistant to more, more, more. That’s why I grimace when reading well-intentioned answers offered by some Conservatives. They’re shooting BB’s at a tank; arrows at a meteor.
So enough already. Let’s get serious.
We do it with a single word everyone loves: Choice. We must become The Party Of Choice.
Stay with me here. Imagine what would happen if Colorado Republicans launched an all new message:
“We are The Party of Choice. Democrats are The Party of Control.”
At first, some would scoff. Others would laugh. Still more would get angry, citing issues where they feel we don’t offer choice, such as abortion, gay marriage, and marijuana.
All this would be…awesome. Think about it:
· Those who never talk about us…would be talking about us! Those who never listen to us…would be demanding answers! Seizing the narrative, we would open a door. We’d open it by reframing the debate.
· This takes us from defense to offense. Rather than play defense with denials—“But, but, we aren’t racist! We aren’t sexist!”—we’d instead switch to offense. “You bet we’re for Choice. And we can prove it.”
· We’d offer a simple, fresh message: “Here’s my politics: I want to control my own life, not yours. That’s it.”
· When challenged—say, on abortion—we’d surprise people with a fresh standard: “I support every choice that doesn’t take away someone else’s choice. Don’t you?”
· On issues where many Colorado voters despise us, we’d lower their anger:
o Abortion: “I’m pro-life, but I love the reason you’re pro-choice. You don’t want the government telling a woman what she can do with her body. I agree! I just don’t want one person’s choice taking away another person’s choice, so our only disagreement is whether another person is in play. We can debate the science if you want, but we already agree on one thing: We both love people.” (Can you just feel the anger dropping?)
o Gay Marriage: “Marry who you want, but don’t tell a baker what product to sell, or a church what service to provide. One person’s choice shouldn’t take away someone else’s. Fair enough?”
o If they bring up my group, the Christian Right: “Actually, Christianity is a Choice religion—there is no Christian Jihad. Never did Jesus and the Apostles force unbelievers to live like believers, and I don’t want my beliefs to be your laws. If you’re seeking a Control religion, might I recommend the Environmental Movement?”
· On all other issues, the field immediately tilts in our favor:
o Education: “I want to choose how my kids are taught, not control how other people’s kids are taught. How about you?”
o Gun Rights: “If a mother chooses to defend her kids, I won’t control how many bullets she carries. That’s her call, not mine.”
o Gun Rights: “I want law-abiding citizens as well-armed as the law-breakers who would harm them. Shouldn’t the choice to obey laws be an advantage, not a disadvantage?”
o Environment: “I want the cleanest environment you can afford to enjoy. If you can’t afford it, how is that sustainable? If you can’t enjoy it, what’s the point? Government shouldn’t tell you what you can afford or enjoy. That’s your choice.”
o Energy: “Energy choices should serve the most people, not reward the most activists.”
o Immigration: “How can I reward the choice to come here legally, if I don’t stop the choice to come here illegally?”
o Immigration: “When people come here, I want America to be their home. Homes are protected with walls and doors, not lawns and floors. How do you choose to protect your home?”
o General: “Do you want the government making you live like me? No? Good! But tell me, do you want the government making me live like you? Do you crave power you fear in others?”
Challenge them. Wake them. Make no mistake, the question, “Who supports Choice or Control?” spurs discussions Democrats don’t want. Why? Because unlike politics as usual—which bores people—these discussions fascinate people, reminding them how no one likes to be controlled. That’s political death for Democrats.
But if we don’t reframe the debate, all that remains is, “Which Party gives me more stuff?” That’s political gold for Democrats. It’s a closed door for us, and we’re the ones who closed it.
And boy did it work. Democrats are thanked, we’re resented, and we’re even afraid of our own word.
Meanwhile, when a Conservative says, “Liberty,” people envision old men in white wigs. As for “Freedom,” this can be slowly eroded, leaving people unaware they don’t have it. So Liberty and Freedom sound old or vague, while Choice sounds crisp, immediate, and personal—everyone freaks when a choice is taken. After all, what motivates a teenager? Losing “liberties” and “freedoms,” or losing the choice of which cellphone to use?
Please. I’d rather come between a mother bear and her cub than a teen and her cellphone.
Of course, some Republicans prefer “Opportunity.” But to many people, “Opportunity” sounds a lot like “Risk.”
Here’s the best reason to use “Choice”: Because Democrats don’t want us to. They know our using that word provokes discussions where there are none. It re-opens the debate; a debate they’ve closed.
It opens a door.
Want to see Democrats yawn? Then talk about “Liberty,” “Freedom,” and “Opportunity.” Want to see them smile and gush talking points? Then lead with policy positions—everything we’re “for.” Want to see them point and laugh? Then go on tirades about Hillary and the media—everything we’re “against.”
But if you want to see Democrats attack in panic, do something new: Talk about Choice-Versus-Control. Train your leaders in it. Train your candidates in it. Train the entire grassroots, and launch a fresh wave of ads.
In other words, Re…Frame…The…Debate! Do this, and you’ll see why Democrats like the debate framed right where it is, thank you very much. They want people talking rich-versus-poor, male-versus-female, black-versus-white…ANYTHING but Choice-Versus-Control. They want people talking about who gives more stuff, not who gives more choices.
And ultimately, Democrats want us blaming our leadership, candidates, ground game—anything that won’t open a door in their Wall. They don’t care if we win a few people with clever comments and targeted outreach, just so long as the vast majority tune us out. While we think tiny, they think big.
So folks, it’s time to think bigger. It’s time to reframe the entire debate. It’s time to challenge Colorado voters with the clearest message they’ve ever heard.
“We are The Party of Choice. They are The Party of Control.”
“We want to control our own lives, not yours.”
“We support every choice that doesn’t take away someone else’s choice. They impose choices they like on people they don’t.”
Honestly, here’s our bigger message: “We’re not what you thought we were. We’re the Good Guys.”
Now THAT is a Party I can sell to this market. THAT is a debate we can win. And THAT, my friends, is how you open a door through an impenetrable Wall.
Are you with me?