Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Friday, July 10, 2015

Conventional Wisdom Doesn't Do Conservative Math

I've been doing a little thinking about how mostly liberal political observers view the GOP primary and other Republican campaign strategies, and have determined that we for the most part, aren't using the appropriate frame: we're basically using Democratic Party math, which weights according to demographics. Republican Party math weights according to values.(This thought is kind of in the muddling stage, so bear with me.)

There are two things that lead me to look at this a little differently--the way that Ted Cruz is "apparently" courting the Donald Trump voter, and something Jeb Bush just said today. When people indicate that they believe that Ted Cruz is hoping to pick up Trump's core audience when the celebrity reality-show star eventually flakes, I think they are missing a few details--for one thing, Ted Cruz hails from a border state. He is comfortable speaking the language of border security; people might think it's a pose or look at it as weird for Cruz to take an anti-immigrant or perceived anti-Latino position when his father is a Latino and an immigrant. But they are wrong in trying to box in Cruz's identity (take this "villager" attempt at identity politics minstrelsy). The point is, you would be hard-pressed to get to the right of Cruz on any issue and his natural style is bombast. Thus, he "gets" Trump. You can't look at Cruz and think "minority outreach" because Cruz is a dues-paying conservative and minority outreach isn't his problem. (Nor should we liberals approach his style as such--no group is a monolith.)

But Jeb Bush basically summed up what I've been considering about how to think about the GOP by saying this:

“I’ll campaign in the Latino communities all across this country — and I might do it in Spanish and in English,” Bush told a crowd of more than 150 at a VFW. “I’m going to do it in a way that hopefully draws people to our cause … I believe young people … African-Americans … Hispanics … everyone is eventually going to be a conservative, they just don’t know it yet.
The point isn't that conservatism is tailored to any demographic--it's that the message of conservatism is (or should be) compelling enough that the right people will be drawn to it. Conservatism might not capture the whole of a demographic that way--but they'll peel off enough of the minorities who have not been catered to, necessarily, but are by instinct, self-identified as conservative (especially socially conservative). Not everyone is going to really be a conservative. But the idea is, instead of a big tent, the conservative movement will settle for a small tent, ideologically, so long as it's sufficiently crowded.

Now, that bends my way of looking at things for a significant refraction. What CW sees as a party that skews old, male and white, and is on the brink of being demographically overwhelmed, within this new frame, takes charge of the dialog and actively tries to win over people by selling arguments (like the religious freedom question) in ways that might engage individuals to think along conservative lines--not along identity politics.

Now, I don't think this is necessarily an honest approach because words are tricky things and the "sell" of conservatism isn't necessarily fact-based, but pulls on values-laden concepts. I think of it as "minority inpull"--the opposite of "outreach".  But until you grasp how a strategy works and its internal logic, you can't begin to legitimately counter it. Again--this is a new frame for me, but I think it redefines whether a GOP campaign strategy is crazypants or actually makes sense to the people it is intended to make sense to. I think it's a good line of liberal study, anyway, if we mean to win more elections.

1 comment:

Yastreblyansky said...

"everyone is eventually going to be a conservative, they just don’t know it yet"

Does that mean as soon as Democratic administrations have made them rich?