Amidst the torrent of polling data on an array of political races and policy issues, it is easy to lose focus on the central point of contention in today’s world of politics. The fundamental disagreement between the right and the left is over the proper role of government. The left feels that government should control virtually every aspect of our economy and our lives – from cradle to grave – while the right believes that government must focus on its core constitutional duties, and that it is, in fact, deleterious to our lives and prosperity when it traverses those constitutional confines.
In terms of the public’s views on this central point of contention, there is no ambiguity in the polling data. The latest Washington Post/ABC-News poll shows that registered voters support limited government with fewer services over larger government with more services by a whopping 56-38% margin. When asked in the recent Fox News survey whether they believe government should leave them alone or lend a helping hand, likely voters chose the limited government message by a 54-35% margin. Among Independent voters, the margin was 63-25%.
With such ubiquitous support for limited government, why is Obama leading on most policy issues, especially those issues like healthcare and energy where he has used the boot of government to spike the cost of vital services on average Americans? How is he neck-and-neck with Romney in national polls and ahead in many battleground state polls?
To a certain extent, many voters harbor an incoherent and self-contradictory political philosophy. They like the mellifluous sounding terms of “limited government” and “balancing the budget,” but are largely susceptible to the misinformation they hear from the Democrat media regarding specific policy issues. However, much of the gap between self-professed support for principles of limited government and support for Republican candidates is due to the poor articulation from most key players in the party.
The prevailing view among Republican consultants is that conservatives must move to the center during the general election. The reality is that we must adhere to our principles in the general election, albeit with a more effective and cogent way of articulating those ethos. Whereas we are able to win primary elections merely by tossing out red meat rhetoric about cutting spending and limiting government, in general elections we must complete our sentences.
We must connect the dots for voters by explaining how it is overbearing government that reduces income, destroys jobs, and raises the cost of the most vital goods and services on the American consumer.
We must edify the public how downsizing government and implementing free market solutions –free of mandates, subsidies, tariffs, and special interest deals – will lead to the most prosperity for all Americans and how it would provide them with the most job opportunities and the cheapest possible products and services.
Let’s turn the tables on Obama’s class warfare and illustrate how the most basic necessities, such as healthcare, food, and energy (which affects the price of virtually every purchase) have become more expensive as a result of Obama’s expansion of government.
Appallingly, Obama is ahead by double-digits in both the Gallup and Washington-Post/ABC News polls on the issue of energy, even though this is our strongest issue. The failure to explain how his ethanol and green energy policies have distorted the energy market and how his monetary stimulus policies have weakened the purchasing power of the dollar represent lost opportunities. The failure of the GOP to hang the ethanol albatross around Obama’s neck as it relates to rising food prices is heartbreaking.
Health insurance premiums are already skyrocketing, and a majority of voters have consistently supported repeal of Obamacare, yet Obama enjoys a healthy lead on the issue of healthcare in every national poll.
Since the Department of Education was created, the cost of college tuition has increased over 439% adjusted for inflation! The rate of increase is almost exactly commensurate with the rate of growth of DOE subsidization. Yet we have failed to communicate with younger votes by explaining how liberals are fueling the circuitous cycle of government subsidies to Big Education cronies and increased college costs.
Hence, we have failed to explain how it is government interventions, such as mandates, taxation, regulation, and subsidization, that engender the very need for subsidization in the first place.
Over the next few weeks, there will be copious pages of ink written on how Romney can win over swing voters. There’s no silver bullet, but one thing is certain. We will never win over uninspired voters with uninspiring milquetoast policy positions that muddle the distinction between Obama’s socialist policies and those of free markets and limited government.