Making Sense, by Michael Reagan
We can win in November with ease.
All Mitt Romney and Republicans need to do is follow the GOP’s script from the historic midterm elections of 2010.
In case you’ve forgotten, 2010 wasn’t just a Republican wave. It was a tsunami. The GOP gained 63 seats in the House and six in the Senate, plus they picked up five governorships and a record 680 seats in state legislatures.
Republicans won in every corner of America for one important reason — the election was about the economy, not social issues.
Independents and Democrats swung to the GOP because they had lost their jobs, lost their houses and had already lost hope in President Obama’s ability to fix anything bigger than a parking ticket in Chicago.
The tea party deserves most of the credit for the conservative counterrevolution of 2010. It was their principles, passion and energy that rejuvenated the Republican Party, dethroned so many Democrats and scared the liberal media.
But it may surprise you that it was the tea party’s use of Reaganesque campaign tactics that made so many Republican wins possible.
Despite its reputation, the tea party is not as ideologically stubborn or politically suicidal as the mainstream media like to think and pray it is. It knows that what unites Americans is the economy and what divides us are issues such as abortion.
Two years ago, the tea party realized that stressing economic issues was the key to uniting Republicans and attracting independent voters.
It also knew it was important for Republicans to downplay divisive social issues like abortion, gay marriage and contraception. (Everyone knows where the party stands on those issues. It’s time to win the General Election the primaries are over.)
For example, I give a lot of speeches around the country on behalf of the tea party. One of the unwritten directives from the tea party’s bosses to me and other speakers is this line: “Please don’t talk about social issues.”
That’s smart politics. We were speaking to fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, libertarian conservatives. When we spoke, we spoke only about things that brought everyone in the room together — and that was the economy.
That’s the way my father Ronald Reagan thought. He always looked for areas of agreement. He’d ask, “Where do we agree? How can I bring people together in that agreement and move the ball forward? Let’s not try to find the areas where we disagree.”
We can’t risk getting ourselves tied up in debates over social issues. Look at what happened when one obscure congressman from Missouri said something insensitive and stupid about rape or pregnancy.
The Democrats and their soul mates in the liberal media feasted on it and the Romney campaign had to spend a week denouncing Todd Akin instead of Obama’s failed economic policies. That’s exactly what Democrats and Obama want Republicans to talk about — social issues.
I am pro-life. But when the GOP insists on putting a hard-line position on abortion into its party platform, all it does is force Republicans to spend time in the media defending the platform instead of debating the economy.
If we wanted to be truly Reaganesque this year, we should have used the wording that prefaced the abortion plank in 1980. It recognized that the Republican Party was a big tent, saying that “we recognize differing views on this question among Americans in general — and in our own party.”
The 2012 platform’s abortion plank brooks no dissent and leaves no room in the tent for pro-choice Republicans like Condoleezza Rice. It takes the position that “the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.”
We should let the Catholic Church debate the social issues while Republicans concentrate on debating the economy and jobs. Because that’s where we all agree — and that’s where we win.
Copyright ©2012 Michael Reagan. Michael Reagan is the son of President Ronald Reagan, a political consultant, and the author of “The New Reagan Revolution” (St. Martin’s Press). He is the founder and chairman of The Reagan Group and president of The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Visit his websites at www.reagan.com and www.michaelereagan.com. Send comments to Reagan@caglecartoons.com. Follow @reaganworld on Twitter. Mike’s column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. For info on using columns contact Cari Dawson Bartley at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-696-7561.