Even when Republicans win an election in a landslide, it often gets spun against us. Horace Cooper
, Senior Fellow at the Centre for New Black Leadership, addressed this theme at the GOPUSA Issues and Action Conference
that I attended two weeks ago.
The fact is, liberals are very good at explaining why they win their elections. The GOP is not. Cooper walked us through a few recent elections to illustrate his point.
In 1980 Reagan's economic plan was based on what became known as Supply Side economics. The history books, however, don't tell it as a defeat for big government and unfair taxation policies, but as a win for the rich at the expense of the poor. "Trickle down economics" became derided by the press.
Reagan's 1984 theme, "Morning in America" was seen strictly as an image campaign with no substance. They refused to see it as a repudiation of the gloom and doom espoused by Jimmy Carter.
In 1988 the media was focused on the alleged "negative campaigning" of George H W Bush. His attack on Dukakis as a "card carrying ACLU liberal" was not seen as truth telling, but as "divisive". The use of Willie Horton to illustrate flawed law-enforcement policies was "mean spirited" or even "racist".
In 2000 the electoral college was suddenly illegitimate. A conspiracy of "disenfranchisement" was ascribed to the GOP.
Horace Cooper's answer was that we cannot be satisfied with a simple victory this time; we must win decisively.
Further, the Democrats have surveyed the electoral landscape and see that their prospects are bleak. It is simply hard for them to win the presidency based on likely voting in most states. Their latest attempt to get around this is a proposal that some states split their electoral vote; instead of the current "winner take all" formula, electoral votes would be split proportionally according to the popular vote. Such a proposal is actually on the ballot in Colorado
, for example. If it passes, the proposition is written in such a manner that the split will become effective in this election. A quick survey of news articles regarding the initiative convinces me that, if they win in Colorado, similar initiatives will appear in many other states in short order.
This idea of "splitting" electoral votes is a very bad idea, for many reasons that I do not have time to go into here. Suffice it to say that Horace Cooper and I see it as a nakedly partisan attempt to win elections.
But of course such a proposal is not really surprising. As we saw in the Florida ballot counting during the last election, the Democratic strategy was to change the rules every time they started to fall behind.
As for Cooper's thesis about media spin, he is no doubt correct. His conclusion that the only thing we can do is to win decisively strikes me as incomplete, however. Reagan won overwhelmingly in 1984 and it did him little good in the mainstream media: see "decade of greed" references.
I and many others see something else emerging; the alternate media. This was in fact the subject of another panel at our conference, one hosted by G Gordon Liddy, which I will discuss in a future article. The two largest parts of the "alternate media" are the blogosphere and talk radio. The latter is overwhelmingly dominated by the right. There are liberal bloggers, but they have not made themselves relevant as we on the right have. Conservative talk radio has come about as far as it's going to, but the bloggers are just starting to make an impact. It is the combination of these elements, I believe, that will allow us to challenge the old-time media elite.