“For six years, Obama has been living rent free inside Republican brains.”
Daily Caller’s Matt K. Lewis is absolutely on point in his latest article, “Time for Republicans to Go On Offense.” We have been saying for quite some time that Republicans have to tell the public what they are “for” instead of continually announcing what they are “against.”
Lewis explains that by simply reacting to what Obama does all the time, Republicans are letting the President set the agenda. He sets out the Republicans’ quandary this way:
“Even if they are successfully fighting against one of his policies (not an improper role for them, I should add), they are still playing a road game — they are still operating on his terrain. A good rule of thumb is that if you are operating on someone else’s turf, you are losing.”
That is one of the biggest challenges facing politics today. Everything is a reaction. It starts at the campaign level where candidates are wired to play defense instead of playing offense. Too often, it feels like candidates sit back with their guard up waiting to be punched. When they are finally attacked, they unload on their opponent with everything they have.
While this definitely has a cathartic effect for the candidate and his or her family, it is really a position of weakness or as Lewis calls it “playing a road game.” We try to spend our time getting our clients to play “home games.” By setting forth a strategy of what we want to accomplish, we can successfully execute a game plan. We know what we are going to talk about because it was decided ahead of time and fits into our overall narrative.
Sure, there are times when you need to react, but good candidates can react and get right back on message. That’s something that Republicans in Washington have mostly failed to do.
Instead, they feed the base with fired up rhetoric about Obama and how they will do everything within their power to stop him. It probably gets them standing ovations at the local precinct committee meeting, but it’s not doing all that much to move our nation forward. Republicans must set an agenda for what they want to accomplish. It won’t be easy, but it’s the only path toward long-term success for the GOP. As Lewis explains:
“In politics, as in life, it is hard to shift into a proactive or winning psychological mentality — especially if you’ve been beaten down for a long time. But it’s vital. People who accomplish great things in life tend to focus on the important, not the urgent.”
In this last cycle, Republicans were overwhelmingly successful at the ballot box in a low turnout election. We know that younger voters and lower efficacy voters stayed home. Republicans are still vulnerable to an aspirational candidate with a campaign narrative about solving problems and setting forth ideas – even if they are overpromises (like Obama ‘08). If Republicans can’t find a way to articulate aspirational messages when we live on the greatest country on Earth, they will continue to be vulnerable to Democrats who can.