Erickson: Republicans Need To Get Happy

Today’s Courier Herald Column:

Last Friday I wrote a farewell to Neal Boortz.  Monday’s column suggested that perhaps some Republicans in leadership should occasionally object to things said by talk show host Rush Limbaugh when he crosses the line into the outlandish, and reassert that he isn’t an actual leader in the Republican party.  In keeping with a bit of a theme of talk radio and its relationship with Republicans, today I’m going to say a few words about my friend Erick Erickson.

Erick co-founded the blog I now edit, Peach  He’s a bit better known in Republican circles as the editor of, and has recently added positions as CNN Contributor and talk radio show host for WSB in Atlanta to his resume.  RedState is a website that can be called a community of “the right of the right.”  They are social and fiscally conservative.  They find many Republicans who serve in good standing to be liberal.  Their readership and conservatives provide a good crossover into talk radio.

There are those who believe that to be marketable in today’s media, especially in political media, you must pretend to educate while actually reaffirming your audience.  Thus, it is getting more and more rare to find a Neal Boortz who would regularly chide the social conservatives that were much of his listening audience.  Instead, the model seems to be more based in those like Limbaugh, who seem to strive to keep a listening base agitated and angry, always teasing the next “outrage” to keep listeners through the commercial break.

Thus, it’s refreshing to see words from Erickson who wrote the following at RedState this week.  Words that he was immediately attacked for writing by some of his own readers and listeners:

“What I am finding is that among conservatives there is too much outrage… It makes our ideas less effective. We have become humorless, angry opponents of the President instead of happy warriors selling better ideas. We are not even selling ideas.

“Conservatives, frankly, have become purveyors of outrage instead of preachers for a cause. Instead of showing how increasing government harms people, how free markets help people, and how conservative policies benefit all Americans, we scream “Benghazi” and “Fast & Furious.”

“We’re off key and off message. We’ve become professional victims dialed up to 10 on the outrage meter….. Be happy. The anger is unbecoming of the party of Lincoln and Reagan.”

If Republicans are going to hold majorities in the House and seek majorities in the Senate and take the White House they will need to heed.  The Republican wave that began with Reagan was based upon new ideas, sold with kindness.  Reagan was the epitome of a happy warrior selling better ideas.  He didn’t agitate “the base” to fire them up.  Instead, he reached out and attracted “Reagan Democrats”.  Heck, even the Teamsters voted Republican in 1980.

Too many Republicans look at the era of Regan and can only think “lower taxes”.  There was so much more to what Republicans offered.  It was personal responsibility in exchange for keeping more of your efforts.  It was about being able to choose your destiny without government interference and new opportunities from which to choose.  It was the original “hope and change” campaign.  Above all, Reagan was positive.

It’s good to see Erickson state bluntly and clearly something that will be uncomfortable for a lot of his followers and probably a lot of those in his industry.  He’ll likely have his critics refer him back to this piece every time he says something they perceive as angry or outraged.  I’m sure he’s OK with that.

Above all, if Republicans are going to expand their footprint, they will need to heed his words.  They will need new ideas to articulate how limited government helps individuals in our current environment.  Even more importantly, they will need strategies to pass and implement them – rather than just being a defacto party of a different form of big government.

But most importantly to winning the hearts and minds of the American people, Republicans must again become a party of happy people.  We are not a party that will win votes because of fear.  Rather, we need to again become the party of hope and change – and have an actual plan to back it up.


  1. Bob Loblaw says:

    Are we talking about the same Erick Erickson who was calculating and advising conservatives on RedState how to defeat Speaker Boehner by organizing just enough TEA Party Members of Congress to oppose his re-election? Now he wants to put on a smiley face? His readers may, as Charlie writes, be responding negatively to his post, but I’m thinking its not because of this particular message. They’re used to being thrown not just red meat, but the entire carcass on RedState. No reasonable, politically astute person can expect that audience to respond positively to such an about-face.

    • heroV says:

      RedState is a wasteland filled with lunacy and hate. Just look at any comment thread over there and see how quickly the moderators over there ban anyone who doesn’t subscribe to every belief they hold, even if they are expressing disagreement respectfully.

  2. xdog says:

    When Erickson tones down his personal rhetoric (casting WH spokesmen as Goebbels, Mr. Justice Souter as sexual criminal), maybe he’ll have some credibility beyond his circle of the like-minded. Until that happens I’ll expect him to keep serving up red meat in exchange for ratings.

    I probably should add, if ratings is what he wants his past efforts certainly put him on the right track. It’s just that this latest attempt to position himself as a thoughtful and reasoned senior GOP advisor is belied by his own history.

  3. John Konop says:

    I have talk with Erick in a small group and or one on one, and that Erick is a smart rational person. I have also seen the Erick the shock media guy, and that Erick we all know is……………… I do think the rational Erick could be a real leader for the GOP in the future.

  4. saltycracker says:

    Not as concerned with who said it as much as it is something that needed to be said.
    Leading by good example is a lost art when discrediting the opposition has proven an effective diversion for those that cannot.

    It has led to such a polarized system that it will be very difficult to get a balance.
    We just spent too much money in the last election to abandon our blind faith that we can destroy the oppostion. It is going to take an extraordinary leader or a great crisis to reverse course.

  5. Rick Day says:

    sorry, it is not anger driven at its base. It is fear driven dogma.

    Hooray for Eric. Maybe some of me has rubbed off, over the years.


  6. Harry says:

    These guys should worry about communicating the conservative message and worldview, not the cosmetics. True right thinking will never gain the majority of adherents in a world of bread and circuses, but it is what it is.

  7. chamblee54 says:

    Fox should change it’ s name to Wolf, like the one the little boy cried about. They have done so much negative squealing about BHO that many do not believe them. When a serious screw up like Benghazi took place, many thought it was just more hot air from the conservatives.

  8. Dave Bearse says:

    The GOP is failing on two fronts. Beyond the humorous, angry opposition cited by Erickson, there’s the just plain crazies contributing to the destruction of the GOP brand.

    The 2010 GOP wave was the result of an angry gut reaction to a severe recession. The wave energized the angry and fearful and accelerated the GOP’s appeals to anger and fear dating to the mid-1990’s (or arguably earlier, the Horton ad in ’88, Helms white hands with a employment rejection notice in ’90) The establishment GOP now recgonizes it is on a trajectory to to being a regional party that is a failure at the national level.

    Change will be tough. Change will make things worse for the GOP before it gets better. The right wing of the right wing that the party is now beholden to will howl that any moderation in policies or pronouncements is movement in the wrong direction. Everyone else meanwhile will be waiting around to confirm any GOP change is for real.

  9. IndyInjun says:

    The GOP wails about the “47%” or “53%” getting a Federal check and goes bonkers over gay rights and abortion, while ignoring totally the Biblical commandment “THOU SHALT NOT STEAL.” The $16 trillion that the Fed stuffed into the banks to bail them out was equal to all of the official debt created since the dawn of the Republic, but the GOP is totally silent about that.

    When you support ridiculous policies while taking food off of people’s plates to give it to some kleptocrat, don’t expect people to weep for you.

    The total meltdown of that thugish party is not something I find terribly grim, ever since they made war on Ron Paul supporters and frugal people across the USA – although there are only about 150 of us.

  10. The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

    I just know that with the way that the country is changing both socially and demographically that would serve Republicans well to at the very least, moderate the way that they deliver some of their very important messages.

    If Republicans don’t moderate their tone and delivery and do it FAST, there may not be much of a Republican Party left to deliver that message by 2030 if the party stays on its current trajectory of alienating Blacks, Latinos, Women and Gays.

    Just here in Georgia alone the seemingly unbeatable statewide Republican Party is looking dead-ahead at a possible “demographic cliff” that very-seriously threatens to relegate the Georgia GOP to the also-ran status that the Georgia Democrat Party currently finds itself in.

    Just look at the changing demographic makeup of nearby states North Carolina and Virginia, two traditionally strongly socially-conservative Southern states that have become much more socially-moderate electoral swing states due to very-large continuing migrations of transplants from Northeastern states.

    In the electoral swing state of North Carolina, where Mitt Romney won the state 50-48% and actually won more votes (2,270,395) than he won in Georgia (2,078,688) where he won 53-45%, non-Hispanic whites makeup 65% of that state’s population.
    In the electoral swing state of Virginia, where Obama and the Democrats won 51-47%, non-Hispanic whites makeup 64.5% of that state’s population.

    Here in Georgia, where again, Mitt Romney won the state’s 16 electoral votes by a margin of 53-45%, non-Hispanic whites only makeup roughly 55% of the state’s population.

    Yeah, that’s right, the non-white demographic makeup of seemingly solid red-state Georgia’s population is 10 percentage points higher than the non-white populations of swing states North Carolina and Virginia.

    Other demographic numbers that the Georgia Republican Party should be taking firm notice of are the quickly-changing demographics of some formerly predominantly-white outer-suburban counties of Metro Atlanta.

    Due to continued demographic changes, historically predominantly-white outer-suburban Metro Atlanta counties like traditionally solidly-Republican Cobb, a county with a reputation of being one of the most conservative suburban communities in the entire nation which has been described by many in national politics as “The Center of the Republican Universe” (44% non-white population), Newton (48% non-white population) and Henry (48% non-white population) are in the process of turning either politically-moderate or slightly-Democrat (Obama actually won Newton County 51-49%).

    Other formerly predominantly-white outer-suburban Metro Atlanta counties like Douglas (51% non-white population), where Obama won the vote by a margin of 51-47%, and Rockdale (59% non-white population), where Obama won the vote by a margin of 58-41%, have most likely already permanently turned Democrat.

    Republican-dominated Gwinnett County (57% non-white population), the second-largest and probably most politically-important county in the state where Romney won the 2012 vote 54-45% and where the ruling Republican Party is not necessarily faring all that well through a series of ethics scandals in the county government, could very potentially turn moderate or even outright Democrat in the not-so-distant future.

    One might say that, with those numbers, the seemingly all-dominant Georgia Republican Party is already a “dead-man walking” who is living on borrowed time.

    While a county like Cobb has a very well-defined and strong enough political and social identity for Republicans to hold onto well into the next decade, despite the rapidly-changing demographics of the county and the metro area, if (or more likely, WHEN) currently Republican-dominated counties like Henry and (ESPECIALLY) Gwinnett, ever turn Democrat, Georgia Republicans could potentially be in for a world-of-hurt as far as statewide elections go.

    For the only thing that is likely keeping a completely-dysfunctional Georgia Republican Party in firm control of the state’s political scene is a virtually completely non-functional Georgia Democrat Party, a party that stays non-operational despite the overwhelming demographic changes in its favor.

    The shocking pronounced demographic changes that are going on here in Georgia are only but a microcosm of the shocking pronounced demographic changes that going on nationally.

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