One of the recurring themes on these pages, at least since Obama’s reelection, is the political truism, “he who frames the debate, wins the debate.” I have been motivated in doing so, of course, by the observation that Republicans have done such a poor job of seizing the narrative from the mainstream media.
Case in point: why wasn’t the ‘fiscal cliff’ called a ‘bipartisan compromise’? After all, who doesn’t like compromise and bipartisanism? Of course, if the fiscal cliff were a bipartisan compromise there would be no pressure on John Boehner to negotiate away spending cuts with Obama.
While the GOP old guard on Capitol Hill are oblivious to this sort of political ju jitsu, it is refreshing to discover that the new breed of Republican congressmen are much more adept than sclerotic RINO’s such as Dick Lugar and John McCain. Take for instance freshman Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who penned this bit of political advice in the Washington Post on Friday:
“Since Election Day, much energy has been spent analyzing why Republicans did so poorly. Many have urged that Republicans must “moderate their views,” by which they mean we should adopt more policies of Democrats. That advice misdiagnoses the problem.”
Step one: reject the mainstream narrative. It’s a false set of choices. There are more choices in life than a hapless RINO and a monomaniacal zealot.
“Voters are rightly unhappy with the anemic growth in gross domestic product the past four years; the average, just 1.5 percent, is less than half of our historic average since World War II, but 53 percent of voters believed the economy was George W. Bush’s fault.
Why did voters believe that? Obama repeated it relentlessly, and Republicans never responded.
First you win the argument, then you win the vote, Margaret Thatcher famously admonished. Republicans did neither.”
It is amazing how many high-level Republican strategists are oblivious to this truism.
“Nothing better illustrates that failure than “47 percent.” Not the comment itself nor the good and decent person who uttered it, but, rather, the overall narrative of Republicans. Voters were convinced that the GOP is the party of “the rich” and that Democrats are the party of everybody else.
That characterization is false, but as long as a majority of Americans believe that Republican policies do not benefit them, Republicans will continue to lose.”
Step two: recognize the basic flaw in the GOP’s 2012 message.
“So let me suggest an alternative course: opportunity conservatism. Republicans should conceptualize and articulate every domestic policy with a single-minded focus on easing the ascent up the economic ladder.
We should assess policy with a Rawlsian lens, asking how it affects those least well-off among us. We should champion the 47 percent.”
Step three: reframe the debate. (Bonus points for familiarity with the liberal moral philosopher, John Rawls.)
“Whenever entrepreneurs and small businesses suffer, those struggling to improve their economic conditions are hurt the worst. Under the Obama administration, the unemployment rate climbed above 10 percent among Hispanics last year and to 14 percent among African Americans. Yet Republicans never talked about this.”
Step four: accuse the Democrats of betraying the people they claim to be championing. Statistics like this are damning but are never repeated by scaredy-cat Republicans.
“Don’t just criticize union bosses; explain how closed shops confiscate wages and make it harder for low-skilled workers to get jobs.
Don’t talk generically about education; advocate school choice to empower parents and expand opportunity for children struggling to get ahead.
Don’t just dwell on the long-term solvency of Social Security; promote personal accounts to allow low-income Americans to accumulate wealth and pass it on to future generations.”
Good concrete examples of issues reframed for the benefit of conservative philosophy.
“Republicans ought to view, and explain, every policy through the lens of economic mobility.”
Reframe, reframe, reframe. Don’t let the MSM narrative take hold.
Don’t get me wrong. It is not that I think “opportunity conservatism” is the cat’s whiskers when it comes to beating Obama-ism. Other formulations may be better. It is just refreshing to see somebody demonstrate an intellectual nimbleness that has been noticeably absent in the GOP since Ronald Reagan retired.
Read the whole article.