Republicans are struggling to explain the pounding they took at the ballot box. After spending an unprecedented amount of money only to lose an election that was certainly within their reach, the answer lies far beyond politics. With all the emphasis on focus testing, polling and the metrics necessary to measure success, we now have proof of the recipe for complete failure. Like the Beatles said, “Money can’t buy you love,” and just throwing billions of dollars at political campaigns is no way to change America.
Republicans must examine not only how and why they were defeated, but the source of the headwind they face every election. They need to recognize that their political future is not dependent on simply changing their message. It requires new ways to state their case to the American public, utilizing windows of opportunity they consistently ignore. If they look below the veneer of party politics and high-priced political soothsayers, they will discover the same source of power for liberals has always been available to conservatives, if they would just seize it.
Beyond the liberal bias of the mainstream media news outlets, Democrats also reap rewards from liberal decision-makers in the entertainment industry who are aligned with their political agenda. These executives use their power over funding to infuse our cultural media with messages consistent with their liberal worldview. The reality is, creative projects aimed at a more conservative audience are routinely denied funding. Until now, no one seemed willing to challenge the way “business-as-usual” in Hollywood actually censors conservative ideas from the public. While these executives claim these are business decisions and they produce only what the public wants, no one believes it. If this past election is any indication, what Hollywood produces is only half of what the public wants. They are ignoring the other half entirely. Most savvy businessmen would see this as an opportunity.
There are award-winning conservative actors, writers and producers in Hollywood and New York who have commercially viable scripts waiting to be produced that celebrate American exceptionalism and promote the values and principles consistent with our founding documents. Most of these stories sit on shelves or have been left unfinished for years because there is no way for them to get past the liberal gatekeepers who control what gets produced in Hollywood.
Compare this to the formidable gifts from Hollywood laid at the feet of Democrats year after year — a barrage of well-written, well-produced feature films and weekly television series that promote talking points consistent with the Democratic Party. These politically tinged messages are delivered by some of Hollywood’s highest-paid actors and crafted by award-winning directors and producers using an arsenal of the most sophisticated production tools in the world. Given the influence of this tidal wave of sustained liberal messaging, it’s no wonder Republicans lose elections. The odds of winning are completely stacked against them long before any election campaign begins.
Unfortunately, while the American public is being entertained and amused, many fail to see the seeds of a liberal ideology planted across multiple episodes and thousands of hours of programming. These seeds take root, and their liberal messages go “viral” through repetition and mimicked behavior that coarsens American culture. This behavior not only undermines the values and principles of future generations, it distorts the image of America throughout the world and emboldens our enemies. Unfortunately, with so much at stake, conservatives are not even on the playing field while the battle for the hearts and minds of the American public is being fought and won by liberals between election cycles.
Instead of retreating to the sidelines and waiting for the next election, conservatives must use this time to invest the same level of financial resources necessary to change the culture as they do to win elections. If conservatives fail to challenge the liberal dominance of our cultural media, the Republican Party and conservative movement will continue to be defined only through the fog of mind-numbing political attack ads and robotic sound bites that fill the airwaves every campaign season.
If conservatives really want to change the outcome of elections, they must end the one-sided conversation Hollywood liberals are having with the American public. They must look beyond party politics. To influence change in America, they must seize the opportunity between elections to enlist conservative, creative talent available in the entertainment industry in order to more effectively define traditional values and principles away from the “noise” and distortions of a typical election cycle. In this way, the American public will be afforded a more honest and realistic alternative to consider at the ballot box. All it takes is money, and given this past election, that doesn’t seem to be the problem. The real problem for conservatives is changing their approach.
It’s not just about changing the message — it’s how and when you deliver it. Change the culture, and elections will take care of themselves.
Demos Chrissos is president of the Foundation for American Media.