From the time my children were little, I’ve worked hard to get them to understand this concept. I’ve repeated it so many times that I know they now cringe any time they say “That’s not fair!”, because they know what’s coming as soon as those words leave their mouth. It’s something that I believe we’ve forgotten as a party, and need to embed in our political subconscious.
For as long as I can remember, the mainstream media organizations have treated the parties differently. They are only too willing to cover stories for one that they are also perfectly fine with ignoring for the other. I give you three examples of this phenomenon.
Breaking the Public TrustOver a year ago, William Jefferson (D-LA-2) was indicted for accepting bribes. Six months ago, Ted Stevens (R-AK) was indicted for accepting for falsely reporting income. Both leaders have broken the public’s trust, but Congressman Jefferson’s bribery charges are much more serious. Yet, even before Senator Stevens’ conviction, the media treated his the more serious, while mostly ignoring Jefferson’s problems.
Sexual MisconductConsider the difference between how congressman Barney Frank, who’s partner was convicted of running a prostitution ring from his house was treated vs. congressman Mark Foley who sent inappropriate emails and instant messages to underage congressional pages. Personally, I consider the latter to be worse since it involved minors, but even senator Larry Craig was treated worse by the media for his actions.
GaffesThe recent Presidential campaigns highlighted the differences in how the candidates were treated when they misspoke. Every gaffe from Obama (57 States) and Biden (TV in 1929, 3 Words) were mostly ignored, while the media was more than willing to invent things and propagate rumors about missteps by McCain and especially Palin.
The fact is, we are not on an even playing field, and we never will be. The media is now openly the propaganda wing of the Democratic Party; the general public admits this, yet it makes no difference in how they vote.
This is the political arena in which we toil, and it is not going to change any time soon. Some think it is enough to enlighten the masses. Surely, once they realize how unfair the playing field is, they will demand that it change. As we have seen in the last election, this just isn’t the case. We need a new strategy to work in this environment. To that end, I make the following proposals:
Stop whining about how unfair things are.People don’t like to hear others whine, even if they have a legitimate case. Sure, the traditional media is against us. Whining about it not only doesn’t change that; it just turns people off. Instead, we need to do our best to get our story out in other ways, such as letters to the editor, blogs, conservative radio, and word-of-mouth. We can also use these means to answer the slurs against conservatism in general, and our candidates in particular.
Find a modern way to tell our ancient story.Sure, it’s a cliché, but I think everyone here will agree that conservatism works every time it’s tried. I’ve heard many times over the course of the past few months that it’s much easier to sound-bite liberal talking points than conservative ones. Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter. We must find a way to communicate conservative points, and why they are better than liberal ones, in thirty seconds. It won’t be easy, but I believe it can be done.
We need to hit some singles first.Sorry for the baseball analogy, but it is my favorite game. When you’re down eight runs, it’s not the time to hit the long ball. There aren’t any eight-run hits in this game. We’re down about as low as we can be, so it’s time to concentrate on the issues we think we can win. This means we’ve got to stop whining when our pet issue isn’t being addressed. For instance, how about we concern ourselves with making sure that women considering abortion have access to all the information they need before making that decision instead of going straight to the Human Life Amendment? There are other examples I could give, but I believe you get the point.
We need to be positive.I hear people all the time saying we need to stop the negative campaigning. Sure, people love a good train wreck, but ultimately the positive message won this time (empty as it may have been). We’ve got to stop talking about what’s wrong with the other side and start talking about what’s right about ours. We need to constantly promote the positive conservative message of freedom, opportunity, and prosperity.
We have to break up the circular firing squad.We need to stop attacking each other. Every issue cannot (and doesn’t need to) be addressed at the same time. That means your issue may have to wait. If we continue to attack each other when we don’t get our way, or disagree over the minutiae of each minor point, we’re never going to progress. Also, we also need to call out conservative pundits when they aren’t being conservative. We need to do what we can to let people know that certain experts don’t represent us. We have to be relentless about this like RedState was about Andrew Sullivan at The Atlantic for supporting the other side. We’ve either got to run these people out of business or force them to fully and openly admit they are not of us.
I believe we’ve got to constantly remember that life’s not fair, and we had better get used to it, otherwise, we’ll never be able to promote the freedom and opportunity that conservatism brings again.