The deep linkages of Barack Obama to both a domestic terrorist and a fraudulent ACORN organization have been made in the minds of the public. They have. The problem is that it just doesn’t matter to enough people to reflect in their choices and thus in polls. Sad? Yes. Despondently so. But a fact that should be the clarion call to young conservatives regardless of victory or defeat in three weeks’ time.
Ben Smith at Politico has a friend who is a Republican consultant. He showed a Midwestern focus group a hard hitting ad linking domestic terrorist Bill Ayers to Obama.
They believed it. And they got it. It just didn’t matter.
Smith’s friend sent him one of the most incredulous and direct e-mails you will ever read describing their reactions.
The two most unreal moments of my professional life of watching focus groups:
54 year-old white male, voted Kerry ’04, Bush ’00, Dole ’96, hunter, NASCAR fan…hard for Obama said: “I’m gonna hate him the minute I vote for him. He’s gonna be a bad president. But I won’t ever vote for another god-damn Republican. I want the government to take over all of Wall Street and bankers and the car companies and Wal-Mart run this county like we used to when Reagan was President.”
The next was a woman, late 50s, Democrat but strongly pro-life. Loved B. and H. Clinton, loved Bush in 2000. “Well, I don’t know much about this terrorist group Barack used to be in with that Weather guy but I’m sick of paying for health insurance at work and that’s why I’m supporting Barack.”
I felt like I was taking crazy pills. I sat on the other side of the glass and realized…this really is the Apocalypse. The Seventh Seal is broken and its time for eight years of pure, delicious crazy….
The problem for them, and surely many like them, is that in their minds McCain is Old School Washington, from whom ‘Change’ may be in fact more likely, but more difficult for them to believe. Likewise, Obama is perceived as New School (pardoning the Manhattan leftist pun), from whom even they admit the ‘Change’ will be for the worse, but it won’t be Old School.
It matters not that one thinks Reagan wrested control of US businesses from… US businesses. And it matters not that the other will trade acknowledged links to domestic terrorists for additional government handouts.
The problem is two fold, from a leadership perspective.
- Elected Republicans failed to govern as conservatives over the past decade (or more), whether in or out of the White House or in the majority or minority of either of the two Houses of Congress.
- Elected Republicans and the Republican Party leadership have utterly failed at communicating with the American public, in large part because more often than not core conservative principles had been abandoned and they had left themselves without a compelling message to communicate in any regard. Result: Tune-out.
To compound our own problems, for whatever myriad explanations, rather than choose a compelling candidate, we Republicans instead left ourselves with the last man standing in their national primary process. And we selected a man, indeed an honorable man of solid character, from the current pool of elected DC politicians that have amassed single-digit approval ratings as a lot over the past year.
All of that above, pleasant contemplation or not, is precisely why more than just a few people think the way the two quoted in the email do. They understand the danger and they understand the associations. But it just doesn’t matter to them.
Unlike the Democrat candidate, they don’t likely think that America is the cause of all the world’s problems. Unlike his wife, they haven’t likely had the epiphany of being proud of their country “for the first time in [their] lifetime” only recently. They have simply tuned out.
And that falls directly on Republican Party leadership and the principled professional conduct (or lack thereof) of those elected to represent us. And when those two fade and fail, communication is impossible, for words no longer possess the resonance of conviction.
Regardless of what happens on election day, these failures will not and cannot be corrected simply with a McCain victory and Obama defeat. We will have averted disaster while still owning an organizational mess. These failures will remain to be addressed.
And if the goal is to reach, inspire and impact those relegated to silence in the years since Ronald Reagan, it must be recognized that only fresh, new voices can carry that message (not to necessarily be confused with young voices, but simply fresh and new.)
And if this is not the goal, may our children forgive us for what we are about to cede that should have been rightfully theirs to inherit, just as we did and our fathers before us.