Repub­li­cans — fu­ture ver­sus past

The Covington News - - OPINION - COLUM­NIST

As I wrote in last week’s col­umn about Ge­or­gia’s U.S. Se­nate race be­tween Demo­crat Michelle Nunn and Repub­li­can David Per­due, it will all boil down to turnout — who turns out to vote. While the Repub­li­can can­di­dates are be­ing fair when they tie the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee to the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, they must do more than hope that Democrats can’t per­suade vot­ers to go to the polls. The Repub­li­can can­di­dates need to cre­ate and com­mu­ni­cate a clear, com­pelling mes­sage for all vot­ers — that will give them a rea­son and the pas­sion to turn out and vote Repub­li­can this fall.

The GOP mis­sion: Pro­vide hope ver­sus spread fear.

The Democrats have cause for con­cern, ac­cord­ing to Chris Cil­lizza of the Wash­ing­ton Post. “Here’s why Pres­i­dent Obama’s dis­mal ap­proval rat­ings mat­ter this Novem­ber,” he wrote last week. “A new na­tional Pew Re­search Cen­ter Poll shows why any Demo­crat on the bal­lot this Novem­ber should care (about Obama’s ap­proval rat­ings). Roughly three in 10 peo­ple said that their vote this fall would be ‘against’ Obama as com­pared to just 19 per­cent who said that their vote would be to show sup­port for the pres­i­dent.

“An in­ter­est­ing/im­por­tant ques­tion is who Obama is mo­ti­vat­ing to vote this fall. A ma­jor­ity (51 per­cent) of vot­ers who say they are plan­ning to vote for a Repub­li­can in their district say they mean that as a vote against Obama. Among self-iden­ti­fied Re- pub­li­cans, 55 per­cent say their con­gres­sional vote is meant to be against Obama; 61 per­cent of con­ser­va­tives say the same. On the other end of the spec­trum, just 36 per­cent say that their vote for Congress is meant as a vote for Obama. More than one in four (27 per­cent) of in­de­pen­dents say their vote is against Obama; just 10 per­cent say it is in sup­port of the pres­i­dent.”

Ac­cord­ing to Cil­lizza, “Peo­ple who see 2014 as a way to send a sig­nal of dis­ap­proval about Obama greatly out­num­ber the peo­ple who want to use their vote to show their sup­port for him and his agenda.”

The 53-seat pickup by Repub­li­cans in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in 1994, when Demo­crat Bill Clin­ton was pres­i­dent and had an ap­proval rat­ing of 46 per­cent, was less be­cause of his poor rat­ings than it was be­cause of Repub­li­cans’ clear, pos­i­tive mes­sage.

This past week, Emily Cadei wrote “Con­tract With Amer­ica: Ready for Re­dux?” in Ozy about the 20th an­niver­sary of the Repub­li­can takeover. For­mer Speaker of the House Newt Gin­grich talked at

“The 53-seat pickup by Repub­li­cans in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in 1994, when Demo­crat Bill Clin­ton was pres­i­dent and had an ap­proval rat­ing of 46 per­cent, was less be­cause of his poor rat­ings than it was be­cause of Repub­li­cans’ mes­sage.” clear, pos­i­tive

the Her­itage Foun­da­tion about the con­tract and what it ac­com­plished. (Full dis­clo­sure: Gin­grich is my fa­ther.)

“The con­tract, which can­di­dates took to vot­ers, in­cluded a se­ries of spe­cific re­forms to Congress: au­dit­ing, term lim­its for com­mit­tee chairs and open­ing com­mit­tee meet­ings to the pub­lic, among oth­ers. And it de­tailed 10 pub­lic poli­cies for new leg­is­la­tion,” wrote Cadei, “in­clud­ing wel­fare re­form, tax cuts and new pro­grams to crack down on crime.”

“When Repub­li­cans seized con­trol of the House, that’s ex­actly what they did, with the ex­cep­tion of a con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment to limit terms for Congress mem­bers. Not all of the poli­cies be­came law, but as a po­lit­i­cal man­i­festo, it set the tone for Congress for much of the rest of the decade.” This tone set­ting was im­por­tant to en­sure that the Repub­li­can ma­jor­ity had a plan to work to­gether.

“Gin­grich is wor­ried that two decades later,” Cadei wrote, “Repub­li­cans have for­got­ten the most im­por­tant les­son of 1994, which is ac­tu­ally to of­fer the vot­ers some­thing.” Hope ver­sus fear. “I am deeply op­posed to any con­sul­tant or any po­lit­i­cal staffer who talks to the news me­dia about the cam­paign this fall be­ing a ref­er­en­dum on Obama,” Gin­grich said. “As a pro­fes­sional who’s done this since 1958 ... I re­gard it as ma­ni­a­cally stupid and un­pro­fes­sional to think you can get away with a purely neg­a­tive cam­paign.”

As a word of warn­ing, Gin­grich noted that, if the Repub­li­cans had “run an anti-Clin­ton cam­paign in ‘94, we still wouldn’t be in the ma­jor­ity.”

“The key is not right ver­sus left, but fu­ture ver­sus past,” con­tin­ued Gin­grich. “We have an op­por­tu­nity in the next three years to be­gin to be­come the move­ment of the fu­ture.”

This fo­cus on the fu­ture and on op­por­tu­nity is a re­flec­tion of Gin­grich’s cheer­ful op­ti­mism. Repub­li­cans would be wise to lis­ten to the man some might see as be­long­ing to the past to plan for suc­cess in the fu­ture.

In the end, hope wins over fear ev­ery time.

To find out more about Jackie Gin­grich Cush­man, and read fea­tures by other Cre­ators Syn­di­cate writ­ers and car­toon­ists, visit www.cre­



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