Paul Ryan is a smart man, and probably represents the mainstream thinking of the Republican Party, though like every ambitious politician he likes to position himself as a critic of the crowd. But in a recent interview with Matthew Continetti, Ryan started out well by complaining about the GOP consultant class. “The consultant class always says play it safe, choose a risk-averse strategy. I don’t think we have the luxury of doing that.” But then when called on to provide a non-risk averse strategy, he comes up with this: “We need to treat people like adults by offering them alternatives.” But what Republican consultant would tell his candidate not to offer alternative policies and ideas? There is none.
Every Republican thinks that offering a positive vision and new policies is the key to winning elections. Of course sometimes, as in the midterms this fall, the Democrats have screwed up so big that they are practically handing Republicans a victory. Just don’t count on it for 2016. In fact, Ryan embraces the conventional GOP wisdom:
“The only way we beat an Obama third term is to offer a spirited alternative and bring it up to a crescendo where we’re really giving the country a very clear choice of policies and ideas.”
I wouldn’t bet on it. You can’t give the country a clear choice of policies and ideas when the Democrats are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to label you racists, sexists, homophobes enemies of the poor, selfish and uncaring. If Republicans are to win national elections they have to come up with an answer to these attacks. And the only answer is a counter-attack. I’ve laid out the basis for an effective counter-attack in my new book Take No Prisoners: The Battle Plan For Defeating the Left (Regnery 2014). But I’m not holding my breath that Republicans will embrace the strategy I recommend. More likely they will go into the next national election like crash-dummies as they usually do.
When you examine the Democrat attacks they are all moral indictments: racist, uncaring, anti-woman, selfish. In contrast, Republicans criticize Democrats for having unworkable policies. Who do you think is going to win this debate? If a voter thinks someone is a racist, how seriously are they going to take his policy ideas? The same reaction awaits candidates who are seen as selfish defenders of the greedy rich, namely, Republicans.
What’s the Republican counter-attack? There is none. But here’s how to think of one: Democrat policies are not merely wrong-headed, they’re destructive. Democrats control every major city in America – Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Milwaukee – and I could go on and on. They’ve controlled these cities for 50 to 100 years. Everything that is wrong with the inner cities of America, every policy that adversely affects the impoverished minorities who live there, Democrats are responsible for.
Democrat policies, for example, have trapped millions of poor African American and Hispanic children in schools that don’t teach them, year in and year out, because they’re run for the benefit of the leftwing teacher unions and the Democratic Party. Democrats will fight to the death to keep these children from getting scholarships known as “vouchers” that would allow them to find private schools that would teach them. Yet Democrats, including the president himself, send their own children to private schools. How racist is that? Yet when did you ever hear a Republican call a Democrat a racist over this atrocity?
Consider the consequences of Democratic misrule: millions of poor African American and Hispanic children who will never be educated and never get a shot at the American dream. Instead they will be condemned to lives of poverty and crime. The Democratic colony of Chicago is a war zone. Who is responsible for all the lost young African American lives in Chicago? But Republicans are too polite to mention it.
In Ferguson, Missouri we have witnessed the month long spectacle of a Democratic lynch mob led by one of the nation’s leading racists, Al Sharpton, who just happens to be the President’s adviser on race. Rev. Sharpton has been mightily abetted by the Democratic Attorney General of the United States, who is conducting a witch-hunt against the Ferguson police force. The Democratic Party is the party of racism, but Republicans are too timid to mention it.
As ever on national security, Democrats have disarmed us in the face of the Islamic crusade against the West, the greatest threat we have ever faced as a nation; they have attacked our borders so that we can’t prevent terrorists and criminals from crossing them; they have forced our retreat from Iraq and the Middle East creating a vacuum that has been filled by the armies of ISIS and other well-armed barbarians who have sworn to kill us. Democrats have betrayed our country and the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, Syrians and Libyans slaughtered by the terrorist armies their policies have unleashed. Yet where is the Republican voice using the language appropriate to thesebetrayals?
Yet it is precisely this moral language that Republicans must use to push back the Democrat slanderers who have been so effective in winning elections. Barack Obama is the most incompetent, anti-American, leftwing radical ever nominated by a major political party. Democrats did that. Hold them responsible.
Whatever words Republicans finally use, they have to 1) Get used to the fact that politics is a no-holds-barred street fight and nice guys finish last; 2) Get used to the fact that they are going to have to actually attack Democrats and make it hurt: and 3) Frame their attacks as a moral indictment – or else they will be pulverized by the moral indictments framed by their opponents.
This is my advice. My bet: Paul Ryan and the Republican Party will ignore it.