January 23, 2009

Ideology by Polling

There are always dangers in the Clintonian modus operendi of using polls to guide policy. There is no room for virtue or integrity or sticking to a belief system by doing so. But there are opportunities to leverage polling to see how you can best proceed in ways that adhere to your ideals. Over at National Review, Alex Lundry has an excellent article on Charting the Political Landscape, which gives advice on what areas Republicans should find their voice, and what areas they should not be too combative, based on polling about ideological self-identification and issues. In other words, where to pick our battles. The polling and analytic offer brilliant insight into the mindset of America.

While I agree with some of his conclusions on which battles to pick, there is one he buckets into compromising on (as opposed to co-operating or standing up against) that political conviction surely has to trump, and that is health care reform. Even though he positions it as forcing a hard compromise, the cost associated with more nationalized freebies represents a future of severe financial consequences. It needs to be one area the Republicans, stand firm. Americans can not afford to be burdened with yet more overhead costs that burden the country financially, especially right now. It represents a failure of basic economics.

The GOP can make things easier for itself by being smarter about campaign financing, understanding demographics, having a better communication strategy and a host of other things. What it cannot afford to do is compromise it's basic principles and become a Democrat-lite party. To do so would only ensure failure. The GOP has to offer it's own vision and it's real, clearly defined alternatives to the Democrat agenda. Caving in on issue after issue is not a winning strategy. And stepping back further from where things fit into Alex Lundry's grid, there are smarter options available that he neglects to discuss that could, and should, be considered.

By having a clear message on health care for example, and being razor sharp in the communication of that message, there lies the opportunity to move the mindset on the grid. Taking the issue from an extreme hope to an indifference or an extreme fear, is a possibility. Can it be done in time before the issue is on the table? That remains to be seen, but it is something conservatives need to get on the ball and start making progress on right away, rather than spinning our wheels in limbo for the next 2 years.

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