We as Republicans have been asking ourselves for sometime now, why does it seem that we are losing the battle of ideas, when it comes to convincing voters that we are the party best suited to lead the nation, and for that matter the state of Delaware.
Now I know that some of my more liberal friends will tell us that it is because the ideas, the principles and the values of the Republican party, and that of conservatism, no longer represent those of a majority of the American people.
Then again, there are members of the Republican party that will say it is because the Republican party no longer holds true to the conservative values that once placed the GOP at the center of American politics.
There may possibly be truth in both of those views, however, I have come to believe that the Republican party and the conservative movement are not losing the battle of ideas, it is not that the ideals and values of the GOP and conservatism are not representative of those of the American people.
In my view we are losing the battle of perception. The problem we are having in winning over new voters, both for the GOP and from the ranks of the growing pool of independent voters is how we are perceived by the majority of voters.
So what is the perception of the Republican Party and the conservative movement?
Currently that perception is most influenced by what has become known as the TEA Party, but what is more accurately titled the TEA movement. The term TEA grew out of the feeling by a large number of citizens that we were, “taxed, enough, already”, but has grown into a movement that now seems to have no real direction nor goal. The TEA movement has been taken over by any number of sub groups with wide-ranging, separate agendas.
What was once a movement of rallies and marches to demonstrate a discontent with the size of government and the tax burden that goes along with it, has now become little more than a hodge-podge of groups that spends most of their time attempting to show their conservative credentials.
In reality there isn’t really even a TEA movement any longer, due to the constant bickering the movement has splintered into any number of movements.
Now you would think that since the TEA movement has splintered, that it would have lost any influence that it once held over the GOP, and to some extent, this is true. However what is happening, is that though the TEA movement no longer seems able to move the GOP in one direction or another, even so, the sub groups are still seen as being the face and voice of the Republican party, or at least the media is more than willing to paint them as such. And in so doing, any negative behaviour of these groups is attributed to the GOP.
We as a nation, and as a state here in Delaware are currently having a debate how best to solve the ongoing issue of gun violence and mass shootings. I do not want this to turn into a debate about that problem, I am merely using it as an example of how we in the conservative movement and the Republican party are losing the battle based largely on perception.
The problem as I see it is that there is a loud and vocal faction within the GOP and the conservative movement that believes the best way to make their argument is to constantly state that the liberals and the Democrats and government are coming to take our guns, that the proposals that have been made by Pres. Obama and in Delaware by Gov. Markell are a direct assault upon the 2nd Amendment.
These people use words like tyranny and confiscation. They become loud when speaking on the issue. Some of them speak of armed revolution. They say things like, “they can have my gun when they pry it from my cold dead fingers”. When they are opposed they resort to calling people names like RINOs, liberals, tyrants, stupid or worse.
Their clarion cry is, “UNCONSTITUTIONAL!”. Any law that they disagree with become unconstitutional. Many of these people have but a passing relationship with the document at best, and have mostly gathered what they do know, from the talking points hurled at them at some sub group meeting that gathers to make their members feel as if they are actually making a difference.
Some of these angry people have actually run for office, they delude themselves that they are in the majority and cannot lose, and when they do lose elections, well then it is always some grand conspiracy, it is never because they are angry and out of touch with the citizens.
It is when these angry, narrow-minded, intellectually vacant people run for office and are afforded a stage to propagate their tiny shriveled view of what conservatism is, that they are most dangerous to the conservative movement, the Republican party, and to the future of the nation.
It is when they have any sort of stage at all that the media then is able to label them Republican, they are said to be representative of Republicans and conservatism, and why not? Do they not continually tell everyone and anyone that they are the deciders of who is or is not a true conservative?
These people are held up as examples, when in reality they are little more than a noisy pest.
The question that the Republican party and conservatives must ask ourselves is, do we want to be known for shouting down our opposition as we run up and down the aisle of some meeting, waving our arms in the air, shouting “TYRANNY! TYRANNY!”? And be perceived as nothing but the fringe lunatic?
Or do we want to be known for being reasonable and for winning, by using logic and reason to convince people our ideas and values are actually the better alternative?
Let us take the issue of gun ownership once again, instead of talking about the attack on the 2nd Amendment, something that most average citizens, either doesn’t understand or doesn’t believe is happening, maybe we should be talking about why the proposals that have been made will not help protect our children in schools.
Maybe instead of dividing our citizens, we should be attempting to unite them. Instead of calling the people we disagree with names, maybe we should be seeking ways to communicate our ideas better.
As long as we allow these fringe elements to be the face and the voice of the GOP and conservatism, we will be allowing the media and our opposition to paint the entirety of conservatism and the Republican party as the fringe lunatic, and we will continue to lose elections, not because our ideas are not good and right, but because of how we are perceived in the media and by the citizens.