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O’DONNELL: Messaging, not tea party, will save GOP

- - Thursday, June 12, 2014

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his re-election, then immediately resigned his leadership post. Establishment politicians are scurrying like rats in a maze trying to find a way to spin this political earthquake to their favor, panicking that they may be next on the hit list.

What does it say about the Tea Party? What does it mean for the GOP?

While these are important questions, we need to resist the urge to make declarative statements based on one race. Eric Cantor’s defeat was exactly that — Eric Cantor’s defeat. His constituents didn’t want him anymore.

One race doesn’t prove the Tea Party is alive or dead.

Having said that, there is a powerful lesson to be learned from Eric Cantor’s defeat, yet it’s not about the tea party or establishment Republicans. Rather, it’s that the Republican Party has a winning message, and when it is communicated in no-nonsense, uncompromising way, voters can’t help but rally behind it. This is how candidates like David Brat can defeat a multimillion-dollar war chest with just a few widow’s mites.

Our economy is tanking. It’s comical to hear Democratic leaders still try to blame our economic woes on the Bush years — six years later! Come on, now. Their big government, big spending solutions simply don’t work because we’re a free-market economy. They’re hoping voters don’t catch on. Yet we know that government actions directly impact whether a recession is shortened or prolonged.

When Ronald Reagan stepped into the Oval Office, there was double-digit inflation, record unemployment, and gas lines and rationing that did not belong in a free America.

So, the newly elected president did what the so-called experts demanded and he raised taxes. But it didn’t work, so he blamed Jimmy Carter and tried the same failed approach again. Just kidding!

President Reagan stood strong in the face of criticism (remember “voodoo economics?”) and employed the free-market principles that have always made our country great to increase revenue: You lower taxes and roll back burdensome regulation.

These are not partisan principles. They are basic economic principles that work whether they are followed by a Democrat, as in the Kennedy years, or abandoned by a Republican, as in the Nixon years.

When President Reagan followed these time-tested principles, the economy recovered so quickly that he was able to campaign for re-election with the slogan “It’s Morning in America Again.”

So why hasn’t the economy rebounded under President Obama?

Reagan had a winning message that rallied voters and transformed the economy. He followed conservative principles, projected them simply and Americans repaid him not just by re-electing him, but by changing how they view Republicans. We can’t just walk away from that.

The reason Obama policies are not working is because he is using socialist principles to fix a capitalist economy.

Unfortunately, liberal spin doctors have twisted the concept of benevolent capitalism and turned it into a dirty word. They have many believing the emotional sound bites that say “to take care of the little guy, we must punish the successful and the rich.” We’ve developed a punitive tax code around these faulty soundbites, and now the harder you work, the more you pay. And government dependency is incentivized more and more.

The problem is that behind these sound bites is complex yet quantifiable data that prove this simply is not true. The more you punish those who are productive and prosperous, the harder it is for the little guy to join them.

Conservatives have the power to defeat the sound bites because we have the truth on our side. The other side needs to resort to lies and deception and sleazy underhanded tricks in order to win. We just need to get better at conveying the truth, in simpler, more powerful sound bites. The message of true hope and prosperity is irresistible and more powerful than the best campaign slogan money can buy.

Whether Republicans can get the point across, conservative principles reflect what Americans believe in their heart of hearts.

Freedom is engraved on everyone’s heart — in our need to be valued and in our desire to be respected and appreciated for who we are. When we work hard and sacrifice, and that hard work and sacrifice have earned a better life for us and our loved ones, this is when freedom swells in our hearts.

If the conservative message is not resonating with the voters, Republicans shouldn’t abandon it. We should reframe it so that it resonates with the hunger for freedom that already exists within them.