I’d like to offer three bits of free advice for the GOP and every Republican candidate currently running or thinking of running in the near future:
Do you remember how the Democrats rode the mantra “Culture of Corruption” all the way to the 2006 mid-terms? How it permeated every message? How it was repeated by every candidate and every pundit whenever their lips moved? So powerful was this Democrat message that, no matter how skewed and inaccurate it was, some of the Bush years have come to be defined by those three simple words.
Republicans are in desperate need of such a motto—something that is based in fact and says a whole mouthful in one soundbite. Well, I’m offering the GOP these three words free of charge: Culture of Incompetence.
It should be on the tongue of every candidate, in every ad, in every radio and television appearance, in every interview to every publication at all times. It cannot be repeated enough. ISIS, Ebola, Secret Service, Benghazi, IRS—all are the direct result of monumental incompetence; some of these scandals have even been criticized from within the ranks. It’s time for competent governance in Washington, and the only way to get it is to remove the Democrats from power.
The second bit of advice is that I’m not really hearing much from candidates, GOP leadership, or the professional punditry about the incompetence of the administration in handling the Ebola fiasco. This is Obama’s Katrina—only this time it has the potential to wipe out entire communities, not just wreak havoc on one.
The third and final piece of advice is to contrast Democrat failures with Republican success stories in states like Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Louisiana, etc. We need to tell our story to the American people and point out the irrefutable facts and statistics about how citizens’ lives in Republican- dominated states have improved in contrast to those in states run by Democrat Governors and/or Democrat legislatures.
Because all three of these tidbits are interrelated, they can be packaged together in slick, efficient ads, commercials, speeches, soundbites, op-eds, etc. It might be a variation of something like this:
“The Democrats have governed this country incompetently and have run it into the ground. The Obama administration is riddled with incompetence and that incompetence has had consequences. Ebola and ISIS are the most recent examples of how this incompetence puts your families at risk. Obama couldn’t even keep his family safe at the White House. This administration’s incompetence has caused rampant underemployment, stagnant wages, a faltering economy, porous borders, exposure to deadly diseases, and the resurgence of radical Islamic terrorism. This Culture of Incompetence has resulted in a country that is less safe and less prosperous than it was six years ago. States with Republican governors and legislatures prove that there is a better way.”
Republicans can no longer play footsie while the other side is playing war. They have to play tough, go on the offensive, set the narrative, speak with a unified message, repeat that message ad nauseam, and the entire GOP—from the lowliest precinct walker to the Speaker of the House—must act as one.
This is NOT the time for self-reflection, self-criticism, self-evaluation, self-flagellation, or divisive rhetoric. It most definitely is NOT the time for any one Republican to go rogue. We must proceed like a monolith with one goal in mind—victory. We can quibble about our intra-party differences once in power.
This should be a slam dunk election year for Republicans and 2016, as things currently stand, should be as well. Yet we are barely squeaking by. This isn’t a problem with the messenger as much as it’s a problem with the message—what it is and how it is being disseminated.
And right now, I don’t hear one solid, identifiable, meaningful, quotable message. All I hear is the sound of people hoping it’ll go their way. And we all know what reliance upon “hope” can bring.
Sally Zelikovsky is a former attorney who founded the San Francisco Tea Party and the Bay Area Patriots in 2009, has been active in Republican and conservative politics in California until moving to New Jersey in 2014.