Many Conservatives think this is 1980 all over again. I wish that was true, but I don’t think it is. Mitt Romney is not Ronald Reagan. He’s an Establishment Rockefeller Liberal Republican. He’s not charismatic and doesn’t unite the Right like Ronald Reagan does. Obama is nothing like Jimmy Carter. He has not faced a primary challenge. He is a charismatic demagogue who has a hold on a large segment of America. He is a symbol and a has the popular culture supporting him in a way Carter never had. Too many Americans have their emotions invested in him, like he’s some god-king Pharoah from ancient Egypt.
America has also changed since 1980. There are more single people because of economic conditions and lifestyle choices. More Americans are dependent on the government. The Left has complete control over the popular culture due to the GOP’s dumb culture war they started in 1992. The suburbs, which were the bastions of the coalition that elected Eisenhower, Nixon and Reagan have been in Democratic hands since 92, although the GOP made inroads in 2010. There are different factors at play that should make Republicans on guard and not think this is 1980 all over again.
Republicans relish the tempting thought of history repeating itself: an incumbent Democratic president, widely perceived as a disappointment or a failure, heads into an election with seven out of every ten Americans believing the “country is in deep and serious trouble.” After dismissing his Republican challenger as an unserious joke, the hubristic incumbent loses the popular vote by a wide margin and the Electoral College by a landslide.
And just think, Republicans have been comparing Barack Obama to Jimmy Carter since 2008.
While Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign is sure to enjoy the comparisons of this year’s presidential election with the one 32 years ago, Republicans shouldn’t fool themselves about the difficulty of the task before them. While it’s possible that Romney could win big, any serious examination of this race should recognize several enormous changes that have taken place in our national political environment in the past three decades, shifts that work against a repeat of Reagan’s rout of Carter.
So if the racial demographic change amounts to only a small shift in favor of the Democrats, what societal trend has helped them? The declining number of married Americans. In 1980, about 65 percent of all American adults were married; today that figure is 51 percent. Among married Americans, Obama’s job approval is a low 38 percent; among those not married, it is 54 percent.
Campaign messaging such as the Obama camp’s “Julia” ad indicates that the Democrats understand that single Americans, particularly single women, make up one of the most important groups of voters for their campaigns to mobilize. If being unmarried makes you more receptive to the Democratic party’s message, then Obama and his allies enjoy a bigger pool of persuadable voters than their counterparts did in 1980.
This is a different country than in 1980. The Democrats have realized this and instead of fighting, they have embraced it and used it to their advantage. Starting in the early 90′s Republicans have been fighting a losing culture war against trends that are outside the control of government. The result is whole swaths of voters and areas of the country that view Republicans in a negative light. Conservatives need to adapt to the times.
What The Republican Party should do.
It may be too late for this election but one of the reasons I am getting active in the GOP is try to change Republican culture. Family values are great and should always be part of Conservatism and the Republican message. But the Right needs to reach out to single people as well. This is where Libertarianism can come in. The core of Libertarianism is freedom and Capitalism. Most singles are attracted to images of money and greed. The GOP should run Libertarians (Not the Paulian types) and have commercials showing people with Lexuses and Yachts. At the end of the ads a voice should say: “vote Republican and you too may have this one day!” Have another commercial of a candidate vacationing in the Bahamas at a beach bar and say “If you vote for me I will help create conditions so that you can have the opportunity to make money and have a great time!” Take this Lexus commercial below.
Imagine a Republican campaign ad using this imagery. That would send a powerful message. Vote Republican so that the economic conditions give you the opportunity to drive a car like this or go to cool parties. This would attract many people who normally may not give the GOP a look.
Attracting married voters don’t need to contradict attracting single voters who are motivated by greed and a good time. In fact, both can complement each other. Family Value voters and money oriented single voters both can be sold on fiscal responsibility and economic freedom. A sound budget and good economy means families can plan for the future. It also means good job opportunities for single voters, which in turn means they will have money for nice cars and great vacations. In short the GOP should have a one two punch of Family Values Conservatism for families and Libertarianism for single people.
If the Republicans haven’t followed this 2 front approach, this could not be a repeat of 1980. It would be the Republican version of 1932 and the Democratic Party would be looking at a 20 year lockout of the White House, 80 House seats and 20 Senators.
I do think Obama will be defeated, but I don’t think it will be a slam dunk like many Conservatives think. We are dealing with a cultural phenomenon 20 years or more in the making. We are up against a symbol. Let’s not take this election for granted! Let’s do all we can to end the Pharaonic Regime!