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A Whisper to the Conservative Movement

America is in a state of decline, if not chaos, following disappointing results in three straight elections and too many years of organized turmoil in our streets, schools, government institutions, and elsewhere. Reversing this requires fundamental changes in conservatives’ political and philanthropic strategies.

Change at the margins is not enough—not with inflation at 50-year highs; rampant crime in our streets; military preparedness and our children’s education compromised at the altar of wokeness; social experimentation occurring in our schools without parental knowledge; protection of our southern border having collapsed; government and large corporations coordinating censorship of certain viewpoints; and weaponization of the Justice Department and FBI.

Against this backdrop, it is stunning that Republicans were unable to win a majority in the Senate and only able to win a slim majority in the House in last year’s midterms. This must serve as a wake-up call to conservative donors that we need to do things differently going forward. Fortunately, a growing number of conservative donors now realize this and are asking the appropriate questions: “Where did Republicans fall short in the midterms?” “Are there more effective strategies than those we now use?” and “Are there more effective consultants and organizations than those we currently fund?”

Republicans fell short in last year’s midterms because Democrats had four distinct advantages. First, the effectiveness of Democrats’ absentee-ballot, ballot-harvesting, and early-voting programs. Second, the tone-deaf messages of Republican candidates and information operations about the reversal of Roe v. Wade. Third, young voters continuing to vote overwhelmingly Democratic. Fourth, suburban women not voting Republican in the same numbers as they did in 2016.

Democrats gained these advantages through 24-month integrated strategies between elections while conservatives pursued disparate, often ineffective, tactics and then backloaded our spending to the 90-day run-up to elections. Democrats fully fund and work continuously on the mechanics of elections—absentee-ballot, early-voting, vote-by-mail, and ballot-harvesting programs—to tilt elections in their favor. Conservatives must compete more effectively on election mechanics going forward.

Through their control of the levers of power in education, the media, and entertainment, Democrats also work continuously on the “long game” by developing the narratives they believe will transform America’s culture and shape election outcomes. George Soros and others like him have spent staggering sums over the past 20 years validating their belief about the impact of narratives and have funded a “liberal ecosystem” for this purpose. The results speak for themselves. Conservatives must compete more effectively in the long game. To this end, a small group of conservative donors funded the development of a “conservative ecosystem” to push back against the liberal ecosystem.

Conservatives must also compete more effectively for the hearts and minds of the “magic middle”—swing voters who decide elections. Reaching and persuading swing voters requires different messengers, messages, and message amplification than those conservatives currently employ. In the context of charter schools, for example, the most influential messengers are the parents and children who have lost out in school lotteries because of Democratic policies limiting the number of charter schools. This strategy borrows a page from progressives’ playbook about actual victims of bad government policy telling their stories. Most effective are the stories told by these children and their parents that tug at the heartstrings of the target audiences.

Broader message amplification requires reaching the magic middle where they live, and they do not live on conservative talk radio or television. The conservative ecosystem was developed for this purpose.

There is more work ahead of us than I have shared here. My hope is that this will start a broader conversation about the fundamental changes that must be made to preserve our freedoms and ensure prosperity for future generations. We owe this to our children and grandchildren.

This article was originally published by RealClearPolitics and made available via RealClearWire.

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Notable Replies

  1. Bernie “gets it.” Ronna McDaniel and the rest of the failures at the RNC… do not.

  2. Maybe Ronna Romney McDaniel and the RNC don’t want to get it…

  3. I think you’ve hit on the truth. I remember the lead-up to Ronna’s being reelected to her boss position and everyone standing behind her gave glorious accolades about her fundraising abilities. Yet I don’t remember one person complimenting her on her leadership skills, management ability, or strategizing.
    Not one person.

    Next time it better be Harmeet Dhillon if the Republicans ever want to win again.

  4. It’s not difficult to find issues on which the conservative edges and “magic middle”, as Marcus labels it, agree. Immigration is one such issue, perhaps the top issue for most Americans regardless of Party affiliation at this point in our decline. It is perhaps the most important issue of our era because it affects so many other concerns: economic, cultural, spiritual. It is a decline that parallels the masses of “immigrants” pouring into our country with the collapse of wages over the course of 50 years. The Republican Party has been far more likely to ignore or worse, collude with Democrats to disparage the rights, interests and concerns of citizens in the country and willingly gotten into bed with Big Corporate donors parroting cheap labor demands over and over, ad nauseum. What fidelity have Republicans ever shown with their base?

    Citizens cannot prosper without a government that places their rights above some executive’s desire to count a few less beans. Perhaps Marcus should direct a message to donors alright! It’s just not the one Marcus proposes! How about, “BUTT OUT!” Instead of disparaging American citizens for wanting to ensure that wages keep pace with inflation, or keep government’s hands off their schools, kids, churches, etc…, Big Corporate donors have thoroughly muddied the waters and furthered the decline and collapse of the middle class and working class. Why focus on any specific issue when what has, is and will continue to plague American citizens is lack of any representation? Citizens have no representation anywhere in this government. Why should anyone in any group long for the perpetuation of this government at all? It does not represent them.

    It is a sign of desperation that donors now see the remedy as getting more Republicans elected. OMG. How out-of-touch can these scions be? What Americans need now won’t come from Republicans or Democrats. It won’t come from donors like you or Soros or any candidate. It will only come from ourselves and a deep desire to live freely without coercion.

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