Some good political advice from former radical – turned conservative, David Horowitz, that echoes many of the themes that I have been pushing on these pages:
“The second thing we have learned [from Obama’s presidency] is something that everyone knows but no one wants to admit: well-designed character attacks can have a crucial impact on electoral outcomes; well-designed character attacks overpower well-crafted messages.”
“In the last election, Romney had a good message and an obvious one… .”
“But a critical majority of the voting public never heard Romney’s message. The reason? A $200 million smear campaign successfully portrayed him as a heartless job destroyer, a mouthpiece for the selfish rich, someone whose words you can’t trust.”
As I have always repeated, successful political campaigns successfully employ negative attacks.
“What was the answer of Obama’s opponents to this killer attack? They didn’t have one. There was no $200 million campaign dedicated to destroying Obama’s credibility and undermining his message. Obama’s opponents didn’t have a message discrediting his character and neutralizing his attacks.”
Yup. Another RINO loser more interested in winning the Miss Congeniality award than the election.
“How is it possible that his opponents have not buried him under his own disasters? How did two successive presidential candidates, McCain and Romney, characterize this selfish, malicious leader — selling hope while delivering misery — as a “good man,” and someone who only lacked experience for the job? How about a moral conscience?”
See what I mean.
“The answer is obvious to everyone but no one will say it out loud.
No one will confront Obama the way he deserves to be confronted because he is black. … It is because Obama is a minority that no one will hold him to a common standard; or confront him with what he has actually done. Any political consultant will tell you that you can’t. This is how race conscious and race-prejudiced our country has become.”
This I don’t blame Romney for. Americans are simply not rational about black-white racial differences. Of course, Obama is termed out so this can’t be used as an excuse any more. There will be no more ‘first black presidents’.
“Their campaign narrative goes like this: We are the defenders of the underdog, and the champions of equality and fairness. If you attack us you attack minorities, women, children, and the poor. If you oppose us you are racists;”
I was at a Conservative Party of Canada policy meeting a decade ago, where everybody was discussing how to modify policies so that we don’t get charged with racism. At some point in these deliberations, I forcefully piped up and told everybody present that it doesn’t matter if we move so far left there isn’t any daylight between ourselves and Leon Trotsky any more, we will still be called racists. Why? Because calling us racists is a tactic that works. Accept the fact that we will be called racists. Embrace the suck.
And have a plan to deal with the slander when it comes.
“So here’s the strategy, remembering that the best defense is a good offense: Attack the Democrat socialists for their wars against minorities and the poor. Expose their empty promises and question their character and undermine their message by portraying them as hypocrites who cannot be trusted. In attacking them as enemies of minorities and the poor we show that we care what happens to minorities and the poor. We put them on the defensive, and we neutralize their malicious and unfair attacks.”
“Conservatives often fail to appreciate the cynical basis of the attacks on them. Conservatives are earnest – too earnest. They aim their messages at the head instead of the heart. They appeal to reason instead of the emotions. That’s why they lose.”
The Romney campaign saw policy as a series of bullet-points on a power-point graph. The Obama campaign grasped the moral element of the debate. For instance, while I don’t agree with much of Ayn Rand’s teachings, her Objectivist followers are right to emphasize the moral element in capitalism. You want the youth vote? You get them by appealing to their idealism.
“It’s not rocket science. You can counter their attacks by turning their guns around. You can neutralize them by fighting fire with fire.”
Which was pretty much my advice 10 years ago. You don’t win by apologizing or denying. It’s too defensive. You win by returning fire.
“Finally, I don’t want to leave you with the idea that campaigns are won on negatives alone. The negatives I have proposed are designed to blunt the opposition attacks and put them on the defensive. But people need hope, and are looking for change. These are basic elements of any campaign message. In crafting the message the positive elements should be designed so that they also dramatize the negative: how the opposition hurts minorities, working Americans and the poor. In opposing parties that oppress these underdog classes we demonstrate that we care about what happens to them. It’s a simple equation. But our side doesn’t get it yet.”
Every good campaign is a harmonious mix of positive and negative messages. Unfortunately, conservatives rely on ad people not ideologues to craft their message. A winning message cannot be crafted without understanding the underlying arguments and social dynamics of the issues. Ideologues get that. PR types have the hubris to think they can sell politicians like toothpaste.
“ Even if this particular campaign doesn’t win the first or second time around it will eventually change the perceptions of everyone in politics.”
Perseverance is an important trait in politics. If you are not consistent you will not be believed, and you will not outlast your enemy. This was one of the secrets of Canadian gun owners. Come rain or shine, we were out there making the argument for gun rights. As a result, we were able to triumph in the end in spite of the fact that when we began, we had no allies in the political world or the media. This is a lesson Red Tories and RINO losers refuse to learn. They pick issues out of the air with focus groups and polling data and wonder why everybody thinks they are phonies.
But read the entire article.