Sun May 18, 2008 at 08:12:19 AM PDT
a [now formerly] lifelong Republican, a [Goldwater] Conservative, and a
former GOP activist, operative and professional campaign manager, now
ardently supporting Sen. Barack Obama, I feel that I have the proper
perspective from which to advise this audience on how to “sell” Obama
to your Republican friends, relatives, and business associates.
There is a large reservoir of discontent among Republicans who are
dissatisfied with John McCain as the GOP nominee. As the recent 25%
votes against him in the now uncontested primaries indicate, this
dissention is far deeper and more persistent than it will be among
Clinton Democrats, when the dust settles in August. These votes, and
those of other Republicans now disenchanted are ripe for the picking
this fall – IF you know how to make the case to these people.
Below the fold I’ll try to give several viable talking points which
should hold you in good stead with most any Republican you come across,
talking politics with between now and the election…
In general, Republican voters dont have the same priorities as Democrats. The
reasons YOU support Sen. Obama are most likely NOT the factors on which
your Republican associates will make their voting decisions. Dont
assume that your ‘hot button’ issues are necessarily even important to
them, nor belittle the priorities they bring to the voting booth.
First, to most Republicans, the cornerstone
Democratic issues of “Health Care”, “Education”, and “Jobs” just dont
even register in the top five issues on which they will base their
vote. Arguing that Obama will best handle such subjects wont win their
vote even if they believe you that he is best on these
issues. Moreover, Republicans will generally have less confidence in
the government to deliver health care, and more confidence in private
schools to deliver education than you will. Dont argue these issues,
arguments just harden attitudes; save your breath – just dont go there.
You want their actual VOTE, not their nodding agreement on some arcane philosophical issue.
Second, resist the urge to “Bush Bash”. While many
(even Most) Republicans are no longer enamored with the President, that
doesnt mean they are sympathetic with everyone wanting to dump on him,
either. They may feel President Bush to have been well intentioned,
though blundering; they may have felt events got out of his control,
they may even blame the Democratic Congress for his apparent failings.
Again, DONT GO THERE. Its not a fight worth having. You
dont win VOTES by fighting with people, you win by leading them to the
better alternative – from their vantage point, not yours.
George W. Bush is not on this ballot, and neither is his Vice
President running to succeed him. That “Bush Third Term” drivel just
wont cut it in winning Republican votes. Fortunately, with Obama as
our candidate, we can make a better, more substantive case than that.
Third, the only really serious, pervasively
damaging charge the GOP will make against Obama is the tried-and-true
tactic of painting him as a traditional “tax-and-spend-liberal-democrat, squishy-on-national-defense”,
in the mold of John Kerry, Michael Dukakis, Walter Mondale, etc. To
most Republicans, that’s the killer – if they believe it. All other
charges and acusations, no matter how scurrilous, are secondary and
incidental to that one. If they buy the ‘tax-and-spend-liberal’ label,
they’ll believe all the muddier garbage gossip; if they reject that
charge as bogus, they’ll most likely reject any other labels that may
be pinned on him as ‘not credible’ either. EVEN IF you, in your heart-of-hearts believe we need more taxes and spending,
and you pray to your humanistic wiccan goddess every night (j/k) that
Obama will bring these things, for the sake of the Polar Bears, keep those wishes to yourself!!! To obtain an Obama VOTE, you are appealing to your Republican friend’s existing sensibilities, rather than trying to change them.
You may not agree with the following policy conclusions which led me
to cross over for the first time in my life, and vote for Sen. Obama in
Virginia’s open primary, but THEY DID. And these same issues will resonate with other Republicans in voting booths across the country this fall…
1. TAXES. As a member of the Illinois State Senate, Sen. Obama was cosponsor of a bill which ultimately passed, creating the largest tax cut in state history. Since the start of his presidential campaign, he has consistently favored a broad-based middle class tax cut. By contrast, Sen. McCain “voted against tax cuts before he voted for them”, and has no real credibility on this issue among conservatives.
McCain was very critical of the Bush tax cuts, which most Republicans
believe gave us years of prosperity – until very recently. Obama can
thus be taken more seriously than McCain as a President who will cut
taxes, rather than raise them.
2. SPENDING. Most Republicans’ biggest gripe with
their own party – by far – is its failure to control the bureaucracy
and reign in runaway federal spending and deficits. It is useful to
mention that while the last five (5) Republican Presidents promised
fiscal responsibility and balanced budgets, all of them grew
discretionary civilian spending by tremendous amounts, and ran up ever
larger deficits. Meanwhile, only Pres. Bill Clinton balanced the
federal budget, and produced four years of surpluses, with the same
forecast long into the indefinite future. A big problem with the
federal budget is that almost nobody knows where all the money is
going; its easy to add earmarks and pork barrel spending and special
interest giveaways when the people back home cant tell the difference.
Sen. Barack Obama’s major legislative accomplishment in the Senate, the The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 has been to bring transparency to federal spending. Send your Republican friends to http://www.federalspending.gov
which his legislation created, a veritable “Google of the Federal
Budget”, where anyone can research every dollar to see where their tax
money is actually going. The whole Federal Rathole is now online, for
the first time ever, inviting scrutiny from whoever has the patience to
slog through it all. You dont have to be a CPA to realize that this does more in the long run to control wasteful federal spending than all the speeches Bush, Bush, Reagan, Ford, and Nixon ever gave on the subject, put together.
3. BIG GOVERNMENT. In his North Carolina victory speech, among other things, Sen. Obama uttered the words “We dont need Big Government”.
Whether you agree with that or not, remind your Republican friends
that Pres. Bill Clinton’s National Performance Review reduced the
federal civilian workforce by 250,000 positions (ones they will
consider, rightly or wrongly, to be useless tax-sucking bureaucrats).
This makes the last Democratic administration the only presidency
since Eisenhower’s to leave office with a smaller federal workforce
that he started with – again, Bush, Bush, Reagan, Ford, and Nixon
notwithstanding. But, the real stones Obama brings to the table on
this issue are his formative years on the south side of Chicago, doing
meaningful community social work through voluntary, faith-based, non-governmental community organizations, rather than government bureaucracies.
Yes, We CAN – rehabilitate the homeless, educate the illiterate,
provide day care for single moms, dry out alcoholics, and clean junkies
off the dope without buidling perpetual bureaucracies – Obama himself
has proven that, through social entrepreneurship. By contrast, John McCain has never drawn a day’s pay that didnt come from the public trough, courtesy of your tax dollars
(getting fabulously rich by marrying an heiress or taking money under
the table from special interests he did favors for doesnt count as
‘earning money in the productive sector’).
4. PERSONAL LIBERTY. Barry Goldwater must be rolling over in his grave over what debasements of the U.S. Constitution
the Bush Administration has gotten itself into, and which the man who
took his seat in the U.S. Senate, John McCain now ardently defends.
Warrantless domestic wiretapping, warrantless searches and seizures,
arresting U.S. citizens without probable cause, holding them without
trial, etc., etc….No REAL conservative believes these things are legitimate perrogatives of the federal government.
There are innumerable horror stories you can research and recount of
how the GOP has sat idly by while our cherished Constitutional
protections have been ignored, abrogated, and turned into a joke. The
last thing real conservatives want is the Orwellian Police State we’re
presently heading for. Grassroots Republicans dont necessarily trust
the feds any more than you do. Thats a case you can make – and make
stick – with them.
5. NATIONAL SECURITY. To the rejoinder, “yes, but its worked, we havent been attacked since 9/11”, you must add: “BUT, we havent foreclosed the threat by taking out al Queada, either”. The National Security argument is like the Tax-and-Spend one, it doesnt matter where you stand on “bombing al Queada back to the stone age” – the fact remains that your Republican friends will vote for the candidate they perceive to be most in tune with that idea, period. McCain vocally disagrees with the successful CIA program to take out al Queada leadership when located in northwest Pakistan,
without alerting the local tribal authorities and Pakistani
Intelligence, who have always warned off our targets in the past. Sen.
Obama, by contrast, opposes giving al Queada sanctuary in Pakistan,
and ardently supports this initiative. When McCain attacked Obama as
niave for “wanting to bomb an ally”, the very next day the CIA took out
the #3 leader in al Queada with just such a raid, with a missile fired
from a Predator drone. Coddling Pakistan’s corrupt dictator for these
eight years hasnt made us safer, and John McCain’s simplistic continuation of this weak policy is just being Soft on Terrorism,
no way around it. Also, its worth noting that whatever other
implications it may have for John McCain’s Character, Psyche, or Mental
Makeup, having a plane shot out from under you and spending six years
behind bars does not automatically qualify anyone as a “national security expert”; that notion is just ludicrous on the face of it.
6. OPPORTUNITY. While John McCain’s four-star
Admiral father ensured him a prized appointment to the U.S. Naval
Academy at Annapolis, his performance – 894th out of 899 cadets in his class
– does not attest to diligent effort, whereas Barack Obama (from a
broken home, on food stamps) won competitive academic scholarships to
Harvard, which he proved himself worthy of by graduating Magna Cum Laude (“With Highest Honors”). Its been a long time since any politicians of either party could talk convincingly about “The American Dream”, but Barack Obama can, because he lived it.
Without handouts, family patronage, or inheritence, he pulled himself
up by his bootstraps from the Chicago ghetto through his own hard work,
enterprise, and initiative to become President of the Harvard Law
Review, one of the most prestigious scholarly legal journals in the
country. Which President is more likely to make a difference in
the lives of people, and motivate them with initiative to best achieve
their individual God-given potential?
Those are the issues that real, hard-core Republicans think about when they vote for a president. Talk TO them – not past them
with vague, touchy-feely bleeding heart nonsense they wont understand
or agree with – and you might very likely ring up another VOTE for Barack Obama this fall. Getting your friends VOTE
is all that matters, not winning their hearts to any grander
philosophical cause; that just wont happen, so forget it. Make common
cause between your GOP acquaintences and Sen. Obama, even if its on points you, yourself, disagree with. THAT’S HOW YOU WILL WIN THIS ELECTION FOR OBAMA.
Once you wash that “tax-and-spend liberal, squishy-on-national-security”
label away, none of the other, lesser acusations the Karl Roves and
Rush Limbaughs of this world can make against Obama will stick, either.
All other things thus being equal, the younger, more intelligent, more
dynamic, less “Washington Establishment”, less
‘tainted-by-special-interest-money’ candidate should prevail. Even