Why can’t the formula of “Hope, Promise and Prepare” – invented by a San Francisco ad agency – be applied to the elections in Texas, the nation’s second largest Republican stronghold.
After all, 90% of the GOP candidates run on those phrases.
Why doesn’t GOP (and Democratic) candidates echo the positive and hopeful message of these slogans? Why do they resort to the tired negative attacks against the other side?
Why do they use the precise words in their ads, even though they know they’ll eventually be proven false?
Why does the GOP employ this effort to cut their opponents down before they can become a factor? I’ve always been baffled by this.
If you listen to the candidates, though, the answer is clear.
It’s a money thing, they say.
At a recent Republican Senate candidates forum, in Wilkes County, North Carolina, for example, over 30 TV ads for the top candidates were aired. A close look at the ads reveals that 16 of the ads use the “Hope, Promise and Prepare” message.
Republican Senate candidate Mark Harris, mentioned above, is talking about “Bright and Future” – a clear echo of these words. He is also using the “Victory Strategy,” noting the anger and the frustration that many voters feel.
But what will happen when Harris and his fellow contenders — Harris, Kevin Cramer, Richard Burr, and Greg Brannon — face off for the final debate this week in the 8th Congressional District? Will they use “Hope, Promise and Prepare” again? Will they resume attacking in ways that have worked for them so far? Or will they stay positive and rely on the old textbook “hope and optimism” playbook?
That’s exactly what happens in Wisconsin, home of Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House.
This cycle, he “championed the Medicare fix” that he oversaw, while criticizing the Democrats and their promise to reform health care for those over 55.
Most of the candidates in that key race talk about “Raising Taxes on Wealthy,” and “Weakening Freedoms.”
Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, not to be outdone, has recently said – something like – “I have three sons: they will destroy the economy.” Another GOP candidate has made “sunk costs” a campaign message.
How about GOP candidates for Senate? National GOP ads in Missouri – highlighted for being the first in the race to endorse Nancy Pelosi for House Speaker — have focused on her promise to “tax the poor” and “dismantle Medicare,” while attacking Democratic opponent Jason Kander’s use of teleprompters.
Have you seen all the statewide TV ads on race for the nation’s oldest state Senate seat? They discuss threats against the “U.S. economy” while calling out Stacey Abrams’ calls for support, claiming that she “wants all workers to do away with work.”
How about GOP Senate candidate Mike Braun? He says “President Trump is doing so much for my state — every time he comes to Indiana we’re proud to support him.”
Meanwhile, GOP candidates in Pennsylvania focus almost exclusively on “the threats to our national security,” “Iran, North Korea and Venezuela,” and “economic woes.”
But the problem, as we see from these four campaigns – and several others – is that the electoral system does not reward candidates for campaigning as positive and optimistic for their own party.
While Republicans in this country may play fast and loose with words, and do not necessarily have a problem with trying to demonize their opponents, the party’s critics focus more on ugly attempts to woo voters than on crafting effective positive campaigns to connect with them.
It’s not perfect, but neither is the fix.
There needs to be an emphasis on positive messaging, especially among those at the top of the ticket.
Focusing on “Hope, Promise and Prepare” is a grand strategy that could change the rules of the political playing field. With all these choices on the ballot, it should be an easy choice for everyone involved to make.