There’s a nice view out of my second floor office window — a small lane dead-ends at a wide boulevard. The grass, from up here, looks perfect. Yellow flowers are blooming in the center strip on the south point of the intersection. My office is actually located in my home, and the houses on my street are mostly blocked out of sight by the trees which are leafed out fully due to plenty of recent rain.
So what, right? What in the heck does that have to do with anything? Here’s what: It’s time for Republicans and conservatives to stop thinking only about what’s on the radio, TV, or Internet. In their minds they need to drill down to the neighborhoods. They need to see things at street level, where Americans aren’t just names on a voter roll.
The political consultants will claim to be all about those folks. Most are not. Most go through the motions of targeting and micro-targeting and once in a while some of the real people in those real houses are the targets of GOTV (get out the vote) efforts. Overall, however, the key word used in that last sentence is “micro.” Rarely does a political campaign genuinely get into the macro communications business. Contact with people happens, but not on the scale necessary.
These articles aren’t about political campaigns. Republicans and conservatives need to be about the work of selling their policies a lot more than they are selling their candidates. Most modern political campaigns care little for the issues — their focus is on selling a personality. I expect that the candidate-centered campaigns will be the last place we see improvement (if ever). The campaign hacks aren’t big thinkers and they’re paid to keep doing the same, tired old things — all the while expecting a different result.
As I’ve said before, most Republicans and conservatives know where to get their news and information. Most everyone else, however, when they tune in at all, are subjected to the liberal dominated newspapers, as well as the TV and radio network news broadcasts. The left also controls the big web news sites such as Yahoo and Google News.
It’s no wonder we have so many low information voters. Yes, I’m familiar with the polling data that shows the public losing trust in the old (but still dominant) media. That creates an opening for conservatives — but only if we go through the opening.
Where are our radio news networks? How many big city or suburban newspapers have editorial boards that are right of center? Very few.
So what am I suggesting? Let me start with what I’m not suggesting. We don’t have time to wait for conservative rich people to figure out that their rich liberal friends are winning because they own the dominant media. (I’ve written about the problem with conservative rich people here, here, here, here and here.)
What I am suggesting comes to my mind when I look out my office window. We may not know what’s in the mind of all of our neighbor or from where, exactly, they get their news and information. But we do know that they have a doorknob.
Marketing pros who have blanketed neighborhoods with “literature drops” know that it can be an effective and worthwhile activity. Our message isn’t likely to reach people through the press, TV sitcoms or movies, or from inside most public school or college classrooms. So we had better start looking for and building alternative avenues for that information to flow.
The job ahead is going to require a lot of time, effort, innovation, creativity and money. But I’ve got a low-cost suggestion for a place to start. Buy some plastic bags, print out some information, and hang it on all of the doorknobs on your street.
Door to door needs to be the baseline for all Republican and conservative activism. It’s the minimum, the start, with other ideas springing up and spreading like the brush fires Sam Adams spoke of. One street isn’t going to make a difference, nor will one neighborhood. But thousands and thousands will. Thus my call for the involvement of the big wallets and big microphones to fund and inspire.
Up next, let’s take a quick look at how America mobilized during World War II.
First published in July 2014.
Image credit: grassrootscampaigns.com.