I learned a number of important lessons during my 2012 run for the US Senate, some of them painfully. With all of the problems we have had with the Republican “brand” (magnified to the point of absurdity by a hostile media) I thought it a good idea to relay a few of the lessons I learned which may help.
-Knock on the doors and knock on as many as you can. There is simply no replacement for a look in the eye and a handshake. Even in a world of ubiquitous advertising and social media, direct contact with a voter is a game- changer.
-Make “opportunity” personal. Stop talking about it as a concept but as a tangible thing. Talking about the Laffer Curve to coal miners about to be put out of their jobs by this administration’s overzealous EPA gives the undeserved impression of us being aloof. We are the Party of middle-class America, we are the Party fighting for farmers, coal miners, truckers and small businesses and it is no coincidence that inequality has skyrocketed under this administration.
-Do not forfeit the notion of community to the Left but talk about community on voluntary terms. When Liberals speak of “community” they typically mean government. Government and “community” are not the same thing. We do not believe in community by force but community by choice. Our neighborhoods, churches, social groups and charitable organizations have always been bedrocks of our decent society and using your political voice to
speak about the benefits of vibrant communities cannot be monopolized by the Left.
-If your message doesn’t fit on a Wheaties box, no one heard it. The Left are experts at simple “Wheaties box” messaging regardless of it’s truth (i.e. the “war on women”). Arguing against the failed Keynesian economic approach while your opponent is accusing you of a “war on women” is electoral suicide. This is no excuse to abandon your homework. We must understand the detailed mechanics of an issue but we must learn to message it succinctly and effectively.
-Stand on principle and don’t be afraid to call out your own party. “Party Leaders” hate this idea but the plain truth is this; swing voters will vote for someone they can identify with and no one identifies with a sell-out.
And finally, and most importantly, speak to people, not at people, and when you do it, do it with a passion and the passionate will follow you. People are looking for a leader and it is our duty and obligation to provide them with one.