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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Winning Elections At The Border

It is no secret that under President Obama this country has been polarized.  This makes it challenging during the election cycle as both parties struggle to both rally their base to go to the polls in large numbers, while simultaneously appealing to the ever important “independent voter.”  In this cycle, where there are few in the middle, accomplishing both of these tasks seems quite daunting.  However, it is imperative that the GOP get conservatives to the polls while getting those in the middle to vote for their candidates.

As a recovering democrat, I am surprised by the lack of marketing savvy by the GOP.  One thing you have to praise the democrats for is their ability to create clear marketing messages that stick. I do think the GOP has an uphill battle in that it is way more difficult to explain quantitative easing and inflationary monetary policy  in a catchy “war on women” style slogan.  But, if the GOP wants to win elections they are going to have to adopt Obama’s “laser like focus” (that was a joke just in case you are new to this blog), and utilize effective and simple messaging that appeals to a broad group of people.

The GOP has a huge opportunity that I hope they do not squander, and that is the issue of the tens of  thousands of illegal immigrants that have surged across our border recently.  I was listening to Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) take listener questions on CSPAN not long ago.  (For those who don’t know, when folks call into CSPAN they call on a phone line affiliated with their party, so you know their political affiliation up front.) Democratic caller after democratic caller was livid about all of the children coming across our border.  These democrats want help for the poor and downtrodden, and even they know deep down there is only so much money to go around.  One African American democrat complained that the unemployment rate was high enough for the black community and these illegal immigrants were going to exacerbate the issue.  Jeffies’ response was shocking.  He actually argued that the influx of illegal immigrants would actually help with unemployment.  No one calling in bought what he is selling.   In this space, the democrats have no spin, and no slogan, and frankly, they own this problem.

The GOP must use this opportunity to win the election cycle.  The democrats will want to talk about any other topic to keep them off message.  The border is something all Americans are angry about.  Regular democrats are upset because all of the programs they want to fund will not be funded.  Obama has just requested $2 billion dollars to throw at the most recent result of our unsecured border.   None of the money will even address the border, just the children who are already here.  The more money Obama seeks for illegal immigrants, the clearer it is that the programs many democrats seek to fund will lose dollars.  They also recognize that unskilled workers will be competing with these illegals for jobs.  Republicans have always wanted a sealed border and it’s something the base will support.

The GOP has been falsely represented by the democrats as the party of the wealthy.  They could easily change this if the republicans play these political cards correctly.  The message must include how the democrats have allowed this unprecedented influx of people, and how it will further hurt jobs and resources for all Americans who for once need to be given priority. This election won’t be won on responding to issues like equal pay, the war on women or paying “fair share,” it will be won at the border.

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