Guest Post: How Many Americans Are One Issue Away?

Below is a guest post from Representative Geoff Duncan of the 26th district in Forsyth County. Duncan serves on the Banks & Banking, Interstate Cooperation, and Science and Technology committees. He lives in Cumming with his wife Brooke and three sons.

How many Americans are one issue away from voting for a Republican? How many Americans consider themselves conservative, but because of just one issue, they find themselves voting for a party other than the Republican Party on Election Day? The exact answer to this question may be unknown, but I assert that it is in the millions and growing exponentially every day.

Republicans across our country have fallen into the trap of telling voters on the other side all about why they are wrong, instead of showing them by example why Republicans are correct. Our party’s supporters are quick to poke someone in the eye who doesn’t agree with 100% of our party’s values and even quicker to cast them off as a lost cause. These alienating conversations are happening every day around the water cooler at work, in our neighborhoods, at our Capitols and in our mailboxes. And in case anyone hasn’t noticed, they’re not working.

Republicans have informally adopted two distinctly different paths forward to grow the party nationally. The first is to convince everyone in the middle that they are wrong, and therefore they need to vote for Republicans with a strong sense of blind trust. The second is to move the party’s values more toward the middle, thus attracting millions of votes. My opinion is that both of these informal strategies are flawed and will never produce the votes and, more important, the loyalty necessary to reclaim this great nation. Not because folks don’t mean well in their approach, but because voters in the middle are tired of being vilified and poked at for not having the exact same convictions. Republicans have prodded them so hard for so long that instead of changing their minds, we’ve oftentimes changed their votes.

I propose a new strategy: one that won’t cost the party a dime and can be rolled out immediately all over this country. All 55 million registered Republicans wake up tomorrow and look for ways to create conversations with the voters in the middle instead of creating conflicts. Look for ways to show them, by example, that Republicans have their families, businesses and communities’ best interests at the top of their agenda. Look for opportunities to have engaging conversations with those in the middle about our party’s tireless commitment to freedom. Reassure them that the Republicans’ vision for success includes every American, even those who might not agree with us on a particular issue. Communicate with a very clear tone that our party’s vision for success is so wide and so broad that it even includes those who don’t vote for us. All the while, remember that at no time does this approach require anyone or any group to alter, adjust or soften their personal convictions nor does it require the party to change its platform. What it does require is a change of mentality that embraces the notion of no longer being obsessed with making a point and starting to be obsessed with making a difference. This party has got to win millions of Americans’ hearts before we can win their votes.

Some may say this approach is too soft, to which I would counter that it takes a much stronger person to convince someone to vote for you than it does to condemn someone into voting for you. “In God We Trust” is more than a motto in this country. It’s a living, breathing model for how to spread a successful and uplifting message from coast to coast.

45 comments

  1. Rick Day says:

    I’m curious: where was this spirit of wooing the majority of American’s over the past 6 years?

    Buzz, if you want the GOP to hold on to your ‘power’ AND you want to bring in younger and more active voters, revisit the Marijuana Question.

    Eventually, some “R” is going to have to take leadership in muscling sponsors. How you spin this issue going forward is like spinning a revolver cylinder in a game of Russian Roulette. Eventually, someone is going to make a mess out of their career for not being proactive on this issue.

    This issue is low hanging fruit, full of smart PR and well within the realm of possibilities in today’s political environment.

    • seenbetrdayz says:

      Well, let’s not forget that Obama is being as tough on states that choose to legalize marijuana as republicans were. For some reason, his administration is getting a pass when it comes to raided dispensaries. When the GOP arrests medical marijuana patients, it gets plastered all over the newspapers and evening news, but dear leader releases the hounds and it gets glossed over.

      So, both parties really suck on the drug war issue. Young people only flock to the democrats over the issue because, I suppose, they’ve always been told democrats are softer on drugs.

      —Which is not the case:

      http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/obamas-war-on-pot-20120216

  2. Dave Emanuel says:

    Representative Duncan makes some excellent points. However, there are additional considerations. A few months ago, I wrote “GOP- Stuck in the Middle” ( http://wp.me/p1aIPm-8N). which addressed the squeeze the party is in between RINOs and CINOs (Conservatives in Name Only). Fundamentally, that squeeze is a consequence of both sides pushing for expanded government. Although CINOs rail against some forms of government over-reach, they promote others. The bottom line is that you’re either in favor of limited government or you’re not; government enforcement of “conservative values” does not constitute limited government. It’s difficult to be successful in an outreach program when you’re sending mixed messages.

    One of the turn-offs for many middle-of-the-road voters is the stance on social issues espoused by some Republicans. Disagreeing with a particular lifestyle or belief is one thing, vilifying them and seeking to enact legislation against them is quite another. The problem with the latter is that it’s a turn off for people who would otherwise embrace the core Republican positions of limited government and expanded freedom.

    • cheapseats says:

      Good comments that echo much of what I think.
      I’m more like 1 issue away from just not bothering to vote at all. It’s not the eloquent statements about what Republicans (or Democrats) believe that keeps me from voting for them. It’s the reality of watching what they’ve been doing once they gain the majority. I don’t like being “bait-and-switched”.
      Limited government means a lot more to me than simply dismantling agencies you don’t like – especially when create others that are unnecessary and do more harm than good.
      On a practical level, it’s the people more than the party that attract/repel the voters and neither side has shown me choices I like better than “None of the above” in a very long time.

    • Tina Trent says:

      Dave, I like your formulation of RINO and CINO. A lot of economic doublespeak flies under the flag of libertarian national groups (AFP especially) who claim to oppose government expansion but rely on crony contracting with the state or open-borders policies that increase markets for their products while ensuring a steady flow of low-wage workers whose lives end up subsidized by everyone else.

      But I don’t agree with you regarding social issues. In terms on on-the-ground organizing, the social conservatives have been told to sit down and shut up for far too long.

      Let’s be explicit: the issues to which you’re referring are abortion and gay marriage. And the right-to-life groups, at least, have shown extraordinary legislative restraint but continue to be vilified, including by loud and over-represented libertarian voices on the right. Defending them, rather than vilifying them, would be far more consistent and effective. Most activists in that cause focus on persuasion and personal example, yet our leaders don’t stand up and defend them no matter what they do.

      There’s a third path not taken, too. Conservatives have let themselves be cowed into silence by those calling them racist for taking stands on everything from Obamacare to welfare reform to affirmative action to illegal immigration to crime . . . to just getting out of bed in the morning.

      Yet polling shows that conservative views on the following “third-rail” issues are quite popular with undecided voters: opposing school admission, government contracting, and job preferences; opposing racial bias on the part of the DOJ and states regarding crime responses (especially those arising from the increasingly hateful and purely political “hate crimes” cabal); demanding reduction in growing government dependency by able-bodied people and those exploiting intergenerational welfare; demanding responsibility for children on the part of both parents; encouraging intact families and marriage by reforming social services that now reward the opposite, and creating immigration policies and enforcing immigration laws that protect American workers first.

      Every one of these issues can be framed positively, but the powers-that-be among Republicans and conservatives avoid them like the plague and maintain silences that translate into defeat — fearing attacks by the media and leftists. We need to stop this silence and address these issues (often misrepresented as “mere” social issues, but each are economic as well).

      Equality-in-treatment arguments are the road not taken that should be taken next time.

      • Dave Emanuel says:

        Tina- For a group that has been told to sit down and shut up, social conservatives have been making a lot of noise. And that seems to be the problem. I never thought social issues would be that influential in last year’s presidential election, but based on a number of conservations I’ve had, apparently they were. It isn’t so much that people favor abortion or gay marriage, it’s that they resent government interference. Again, the mixed message rears its ugly head– we are against over-reaching government, but we want new laws aimed at abortion and gay marriage.

        Personally, I don’t know what the ideal solution might be. I’m not in favor of abortion and I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. However, I also believe that a person’s sexual orientation is none of my business and consequently, I’m not in favor of legislation that persecutes a particular lifestyle or belief. How is that any different than legislation that persecutes a religion or ethnic background?

        On the other hand, I agree with your statement about economic issues. However, those can be addressed by enforcing existing legislation as opposed to enacting new laws. My reference to limited government pertains to the latter, not the former. Unfortunately, the liberal approach of promoting specific agendas by enacting new laws, while ignoring existing ones, has not been sufficiently addressed by conservatives.

  3. Ed says:

    “I assert that it is in the millions and growing exponentially every day.”

    I can tell you with simple math that this is impossible. And if it is true, you are screwed.

    • D_in_ATL says:

      You have a better grasp of scale than a member of both the Science and Technology committee and Banking committees. Well done, sir.

    • greencracker says:

      + (10^6)^2, repeat daily.

      If registered GOP-ers are supposed to approach their friends and colleagues who are in the middle and explain why they should vote GOP … erm … that seems to ask voters to move rather than ask the party to move. Maybe voters don’t want to move.

  4. Ellynn says:

    As a card-carrying member of the Middle (with a slight lean to the left), what do we tell the Democrats who tell us they “have their families, businesses and communities’ best interests at the top of their agenda.” That the Democrats have a “tireless commitment to freedom”. That their “party’s vision for success is so wide and so broad that it even includes those who don’t vote for us.”

    Here is the problem with Rep. Duncan’s Theory. Curently, Democrats and Republicans alike believe within every corner of their hearts and minds that THEIR party is the one who has the best intentions for the country. Every side can prove it and each one has an agruement on why the other side is wrong. They can match each other talking point to talking point, over hyped speculation to over hyped speculation. For every Founder Father quote Side A has, Side B has one to back their POV by the same guy.

    Once upon a time, people could vote for the guy their neighbor hated and still be invited to his backyard cook out the next weekend to listen to the game while their children played. Your father’s best friend was the county chair of party he did not belong to. Your public school teacher was not automatically ladeled a Democratic loving Unionist free loader. You could drive into the church parking lot without the bumper sticker of your candate marking you as ungodly or a greedy 1% company man. I know this, because that’s how I (and most of you) grew up. We somehow ended up losing our collective civility.

    My own mother is a registered Republican, and my late Father was a registered Democrat. They were married well over 45 years, and survived the the election of 9 Presidents, 2 congressman, 6 senators and 10 governors, yet still managed to live in peace and harmony to my father’s last breath. Their congressman since 1977 was my mother’s high school sweetheart, and my father still got along with him when they saw each other at local events. How did this happen you ask. It’s called compromise, a word so dirty and undervalued in the lexicon of both major political parties, it makes am America loving soul want to cry.

    Instead of trying to push a parties big ideas and tell us middle loving purple people how much better this party is then the other, work for the common ground between both of the parties. You’re base might hold a middle ground vote against you, but the Middle ground voters who the majority of all candidates need to win a November election won’t (unless it’s a ready bad bill). If a person is afraid of their own base, then they need to really ask themselves why instead of trying to reach out to the middle, who doesn’t care for the far fringe values of either side and greatly out number the fringes on a whole, they still try to live up to a fringe standard that will not help them in the long run. The party that can figure that out will end up wining the hearts and minds of the middle.

    • Lea Thrace says:

      This comment is everything. EVERYTHING.

      Hey people on both sides trying to sway the middle, read her comment very carefully. Print it out. Think about it when you make decisions.

      • Great comment I agree. My simple solution to Republicans: try improving a Democratic proposal instead of just 100% opposition. They could start with Obamacare – originally their idea – well, tell us how you’d tweak it to make it more true to your vision?

    • John Konop says:

      Very well written post all should read……the problem as I see it via the gerrymandering of districts neither side is rewarded by solving policy issues. The extreme elements on both sides control the primary in general….on a macro it does not pay to play ball with the otherside, because the real election is the primary in most districts, and the base loves the hate spewing…..it really is sad……the truth is many times it is not even idealology , it is just straight tribal hate…..

    • Jon Lester says:

      It became this way because an entire industry exists to create and amplify divisions for profit, and it’s not just David Frum’s “conservative entertainment complex” driving it, even if the likes of MSNBC aren’t nearly as good at it.

      • John Konop says:

        Good point, spewing BS gets viewers, which translates into money…….the extremes on both sides drive viewership of talk/news……The rest of us have better things to do or watch like the Falcons 🙂

        • benevolus says:

          The industry is complicit, but it was Karl Rove and Frank Luntz and Grover Norquist and maybe Newt Gingrich who advocated this all or nothing approach and cobbling together coalitions of fanatics. Now they’ve fed them all these years and they broke the leash. I submit they knew this day was coming but chose to win in the moment then and the future be damned. Good luck trying to stuff that back into the new packaging.

      • Ellynn says:

        I don’t buy the “Cable news made us do it” rational. Currently more people read internet sites and special interest blogs more then they watch cable. That’s one of the man reasons NBCNEWS.com etablished itself as a seperate wedsite from the “new” MSNBC.com Do they help create civility, certanly not. But it’s not a new trend in political banter either. Before there was a MSNBC or a Foxnews channel, their was talk radio and synicated polical shows. Before that there were magizines and national synicated news columns, there was the Puliter/Hearst war of words. Even some form of the “yellow press” has been going on for centuries – long before Pulitzer started sensationalizing crime, created fake wars and runnning for office, or Hearst’s papers suggested some one kill the President, only to be surprized when his faithful reader Leon Czolgosz followed through on the idea.

        That’s not even adding the ‘religous’ channels, shows, colleges, press and POV to the mix. It’s like a Holy Roller version of poker- Religous Conviction addition (…I’ll see your Evenglical personhood platform and raise it by a Catholic social justice plee to feed and house all the personshoods created…)

        Party A and Party B can stop acting like little children refusing to share their toys, and we can stop encouraging them to do so…

        How hard would it be to call a timeout and send them all to stand in a corner?

        • John Konop says:

          The real issue is who votes in the primary…..the active party members are who show up…..And the district is so gerrymandered that the extremes win on both sides….

          • Ellynn says:

            In some districts and states this is true, but only to a point. States with open voting (you can vote for whoever in either party) or in states were you’re handed a party ballet with out have to sign your name (and address to the party can send you stuff), not all extreme canidates win.

            Here’s the downside of the fringe. If a far fringe canidate gets the primary win, and if the other party choice is even remotely more mantstream to the center, the middle will pick the less fringy guy. Look a VA – if the Republicans had picked a canidate for governor that was less anti-female, less involved with the current governors scandles and didn’t waste spend taxpayer money to reinstall a law the SCOTUS had rule uncontituional, they should have beatten a really disliked and not very trustworthy Democrate.

  5. xdog says:

    Just glancing at the Georgia goper platform I see they’re in favor of personhood, sexual abstinence, reforming China’s monetary policy, drilling everywhere for oil, building double border fences, establishing gold/silver currency, and reducing corporate taxes (so businesses can be ‘competitive’).

    They’re agin gay marriage, the ACA, women in combat, Agenda 21, immigration reform, EPA, Amtrak, embryonic stem-cell research, and ‘the creation of any new race-based governments within the United States’, whatever that means.

    Sorry, Mr. Duncan, but it’ll take more than one change for statewide/national gopers to get my vote.

  6. Harry says:

    Then there’s this:

    WASHINGTON, DC — U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) released the following statement on the interim agreement on Iran’s nuclear program:

    “According to the interim agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear program that was reached this weekend in Geneva, not one centrifuge will be destroyed. Not one pound of enriched uranium will leave Iran. Not one American unjustly detained in Iran’s notorious prisons will be released. But Iran will start to receive, in a matter of days, $7 billion in relief from international economics sanctions.

    “All the smiling embraces between diplomats after the interim deal was signed notwithstanding, the Iranian regime remains a brutal and oppressive dictatorship that pursues nuclear weapons for the purpose of dominating the Middle East and threatening America and our allies, notably Israel. President Obama and Secretary Kerry should reconsider their policy of rapprochement with Iran that is dismaying to Jerusalem and encouraging to Tehran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu predicted this agreement would be a ‘very, very bad deal’ and has now correctly identified it as an ‘historic mistake.’ Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tweeted his satisfaction as the ‘breaking down the architecture for sanctions has begun.’ The administration has gotten it backwards and it is time to reverse course before any further damage is done.”

    http://www.cruz.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=348123

    • Dave Bearse says:

      Indeed the interim agreement has three fatal flaws, with any of the three individually making it utter junk. It:
      (1) was negotiated by the Obama administration
      (2) doesn’t involving bombing, and
      (3) doesn’t entirely solve the problem in perpetuity

  7. Three Jack says:

    If the representative really wants to change the dialogue, he should introduce legislation to end restrictive ballot access laws that prevent the so-called ‘middle’ from seeking public office. If you are not a full bred abortion hater, you can’t get past the GOP primary. On the other side, if you don’t support increasingly powerful government bureaucracy that purports to care for everybody, then you will surely not gain access to a dem ballot.

    And the rep. could have written the column with just 6 words considering his proposed solution, ‘can’t we all just get along’. No, we can’t because there are differences that need to be explored, debated and worked out. Decrease the role of major parties in that discussion with all the BS each provides and we could actually start getting to solutions.

  8. Whenever I feel a little bad about the 2014 election coming up, posts like this remind me that Republicans still don’t think their actual positions have lost them 5/6 Presidential elections.

    Hey son, that girl at school doesn’t like you because you’re an insensitive jerk, well just shift the conversation to how strong your personality is! Problem solved!

  9. Will Durant says:

    “Winning is better than losing. This is true in sports, a friendly game of Hearts, and most certainly in politics. ” — Buzz Brockway

    Too many people are treating elections and their results as they would a sports rivalry. As long as R beats D or blue beats red or jack ass beats elephant or … My father brought me up to examine the issues and vote for the MAN (women were not a consideration in politics for him back then) with whom you were most in agreement, or more often, was the lesser of two evils. That being said he has voted Republican in every Presidential election but one his entire life, he just had to abstain from voting for W in his second term. You couldn’t live in the South in his era without voting for some Democrats if you wanted your vote to count for anything however, especially in the primaries.

    For the most part I don’t see that many Republicans in the modern era that are allowed to stray from marching lock step and act as individuals and therein lies their greatest problem. God forbid a representative in the state house from breaking ranks and voting their conscience on a bill sponsored by well-heeled interests or by blackmailing religious zealots.

    Our government just doesn’t work without compromise and quit automatically labeling those willing to do so a RINO or worse. For example, actually embrace and enforce separation of church and state. Quit letting the Ralph Reeds of the world act as if they are your spokesperson. If your conscience tells you that abortion is wrong, fine, go with that. But at least have enough common sense to realize the absurdity of establishing “personhood” for a single-celled zygote.

    Another example and I’ll quit. Sometimes taxes must be raised though it pains me to say that. The most equitable way to pay for roads and their environmental impact is the motor fuel tax. If cars are getting better mileage these days then that is wonderful, tax the fuel more and they will become even more efficient. An 80,000 pound truck should pay more than the paltry amounts they sometimes list on the backs of their trailers. They cause exponentially more wear and tear to the roads than a small car. Don’t automatically make a pariah out of the guy who brings up a tax increase if that increase is needed and makes sense.

    Keep being the party of NO and you will be marginalized.

      • Will Durant says:

        Wow Harry, this kind of rhetoric is worthy of Limbaugh and Hannity. You do realize that they don’t hold office and are just selling soap, pharmaceuticals, etc. Somehow I don’t think the governance of 300 million out of 7 billion is going to have much effect on the fate of the human race.

  10. segafamily says:

    You wrote, “The second is to move the party’s values more toward the middle, thus attracting millions of votes.”

    When you see actual concrete movement – not just hot air – by the Republican leadership to the middle, please let us know since none of us have ever seen that unicorn.

  11. Dave Bearse says:

    Timely, considering the Virginia today certified that GOP candidates were swept from all of the commonwealth’s statewide offices.

    Nothing new in this proposal however. It’s a narrower version of Priebus’ 8 months old suggestion that went no where.

    • Harry says:

      As a Freeper posted:
      Virginia, once a red state and then a swing state, officially goes blue. The Demcorats completed a sweep of all statewide offices in Virginia.

      That’s ALL statewide offices.

      The GOP needs to find a way to make up the loss of VA (and frankly, Colorado). We’re running out of options, fast.

      Here’s a disturbing fact:

      In 1988, Bush Sr. won the Presidency. The next Presidential election for us is in 2016 – that’s 28 years since Bush Sr. won. That means that when we go to “pull the lever” for President in November of 2016, the Republicans will have brought out more voters to vote for their Presidential candidate than the Democrats will have brought out for their Presidential candiate exactly ONE TIME – Bush in 2004 over Kerry – in TWENTY EIGHT YEARS.

      That’s the state of our country right now. Center Left and going further Left every day, and going Left in every swing state. Sad.

      However, I don’t agree that the GOP and conservatives need to compromise our convictions.

          • Ellynn says:

            The Republican Lt Govenor candate was a good canidate? Cucenelli didn’t even go to events with him. Most of the non fringe Republicans refused to back him… The National GOP refused to fund him.

            • Harry says:

              The other two were fine candidates and should have been elected. Too many in Virginia are eating off the government these days, the result is dependency and eventually tyranny.

                  • Ellynn says:

                    Have you actually read the Apostolic Exhortation, or are you just seeing what others have to think about it…

                    This is what I love about single point of view sourcing and the news engines that love them… The focus is on what you want it to be and take in (or out) of whatever context it was created.

                    Below are the news titles (not the article link) about the story of the same 84 page document released By Pope Franices Harry link above.;

                    “Pope Francis attacks ‘tyranny’ of unfettered capitalism, ‘idolatry of money’.” Reuters, as reported on NBCNews.com

                    “Pope issues mission statement for papacy, outlines how church should be reformed” Foxnews.com

                    “Pope Francis calls unfettered capitalism ‘tyranny’ and urges rich to share wealth” The Guardian.com

                    “Pope Francis takes veiled swipe at ‘progressive’ Democrats” Washington times.com

                    “In Major Document, Pope Francis Presents His Vision” New York Times.com

                    “Pope Francis Strafes Libertarian Economics” Slate.com

                    “Pope Francis denounces ‘trickle-down’ economics” Washington Post.com

                    “Pope Francis Criticizes Economic Inequality in Mission Manifesto” Wall Street Journal

                    “Begin ‘new chapter’ of joyful evangelization, Pope exhorts” Catholic News Agancy

                    “Pope Francis calls for power to move away from Vatican” BBC.co.uk

                    “Pope Urges Countries Regulate Markets in Poverty Battle” Bloomberg

                    This

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