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Republicans continue to fail in their duty to sell

Political pundits talk of the 50-50 red-blue divide in America as if it’s the result of both sides clearly articulating their positions and only succeeding in convincing half of the population to vote their way. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Democrats like Barack Obama work overtime to find words to hide their real agenda. An Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) editorial we linked addresses this fact head on. Rather than frighten moderates by speaking to the true nature of their agenda, Obama and the Democrats speak in code and use euphemisms. The IBD says that “Obama is too smart to try to smuggle such hoary collectivist garbage through the front door.”

Most Republican candidates and elected officials don’t school themselves sufficiently to be able to sell solutions based on their party’s principles. Their failure is so complete that even when they hold power they’re unable to advance because they don’t bother even trying to win public support of an agenda.

Our political class needs to improve how they do their job both on the campaign trail and once in office. The goal isn’t to merely get elected and reelected – it’s to advance good policy. You can’t advance good policy without winning public support, and you can’t win public support without going after it aggressively.

Newsflash: it’s not the 1950s, 60s, 70s or 80s. Government is bigger and the tax eaters are stronger, more organized, and their primary concern isn’t supporting policies that work. Their primary concern is getting an ever-larger share of tax dollars.

What those who do not make their living off of tax dollars need their candidates and legislators to do is quite simple.

  1. Study and learn the issues – find out which policies work and which policies don’t.
  2. Learn to summarize the issues – and get help from the kind of issue experts found in the primate institutions and think tanks.
  3. Maintain a flow of both basic and detailed information on the web about what is at issue.
  4. Initiate a serious modern media strategy. Professional private sector (non-political) help is recommended.
  5. Enlist the help of business and community leaders as well as all other interested organizations to help get the word out on both the problems and the solutions.
  6. Get citizens and taxpayers involved in spreading the word. Their word of mouth is the ultimate goal of any effort to shape public opinion.
  7. Play a part in insuring the viability of a professional party organization at all levels.
  8. Use all the venues of communicating available. The list is obvious. Personal appearances and public forums. Door to door. TV and radio, earned and paid. Op eds and letters to newspapers. Press conferences and press releases. Editorial board meetings. Direct mail, phone banks, websites, blogs, and emails.

If that’s seen as too much work, don’t expect to see much in the way of leadership from that individual. When candidates and legislators don’t make regular use of the above methods, we get what we have now – a whole lot of failed policy.

Republicans should always have a package of big proposals on the table – and being in the minority isn’t an excuse for not executing a strategy to inform and move public opinion.

Some excuse inaction by pointing out that we don’t hold the governor’s mansion or the General Assembly. The fact is, the combined power of the voices within a caucus forcefully marketing an idea will generate attention and can win public support.

Reagan and Gingrich, information, information, information

Ronald Reagan traveled the country for years as both a private citizen and candidate making political speeches. He stuck to principle, gained popularity, won the White House, and impacted history.

Congressman Newt Gingrich was not Minority Leader in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994 when he engineered the pick-up of 54 seats for the Republicans.

We can build on and improve upon what Reagan and Gingrich did. We only need a group of men and women willing to set different priorities and seek new counsel.

The objective is simple: raise public awareness and win support for your solution.

The easiest way to find out what’s going on these days is on the Internet – where news, weather and sports is all a mouse-click away. If you want to know what’s going on with your state government, on the other hand, you’re limited to a small number of sources where the information has been filtered in numerous ways.

I’ve written this before – and it bears repeating over and over and over until someone in power wakes up. We have thousands of private sector advertising, marketing, and public relations professionals all over the country that know how to sell a good idea to a busy population.

All p.r., advertising, and marketing evolves and improves – except that in the arena of politics. We’re supposed to be in the business of marketing ideas – and the fact that Illinois voters can’t tell the difference between the Democrats and the Republicans shows what a poor job we’re doing.

This isn’t a campaign against people – it’s against failed policies and institutions. Those who defend failure shouldn’t. If you’re in office and aren’t up to the task ahead, it’s time for you to retire.

If you are up to the task, then it’s time for you to get in the game.

Up next: It’s not complicated, but Republican leaders still don’t get it.

©2008 John Francis Biver

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