Editors’ Pick for the Conservative Book Club
A roadmap to the future for Republicans
With each passing election cycle, Republicans face stiffer and stiffer odds for winning elections at all levels. They have long relied on a combination of Baby Boomers and rural voters to propel them to victory in races for office. However, both of these populations will decline in the future. At the same time, the ranks of millennials and urban voters have exploded. Millennials (now the largest generation in the United States) and urban residents (the growing majority of the population) are the two groups that are the key to the futureboth for the United States and for any major political party.
Unfortunately, the Republican Party has largely put off bringing these vital groups into the fold. In fact, it faces a real identity crisis with them. Mention the words “GOP” or “Republican” and they immediately react negatively. They see the party and its members as being out of touch and focused on the past. What possible reason should they have to vote for them, or even listen to their ideas?
GOP GPS offers a roadmap for Republicans to win over these key groups, showing how to do so using conservative values and principles. It addresses a wide array of issues, including social justice, education, marriage equality, debt, and the family. It will challenge all and show that the Republican Party is not the caricature the Left or the media make it out to be.
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About the Author
Evan Siegfried is a Republican strategist and commentator. He regularly appears on Fox News Channel, CNN, MSNBC, as well as other networks. His commentary has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Daily Beast, Business Insider, New York Post, Daily Caller, Heat Street, and New York Daily News.
Robert A. George, a member of the New York Daily News editorial board, has written about politics and popular culture for more than two decades. His work has appeared in the New York Post, National Review, and the New Republic. His political commentary has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, Fox News and many other media outlets. Robert lives in New York City.
Read an Excerpt
What a caricature we are now
There is the story of the former Roman general, Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus. Cincinnatus had been a general in the Roman army and a consul of Rome, but retired in shame after one of his sons had been tried in absentia and sentenced to death. He worked on a small farm removed from public life, when in 458 BC the man became a legend. Rome was under the threat of invasion by the Aequi and the Sabines. With Rome in a state of crisis, the consul of Rome nominated Cincinnatus to quell the threat by serving as dictator. The position was one of absolute power and held no accountability. If he wanted to, Cincinnatus could seize power for life, and Rome would have no legal recourse to remove him from control of the Roman Empire. Instead, he set out with the Roman army and neutralized the threat of the Sabines and Aequi. After doing so, Cincinnatus surrendered his unlimited power and returned to his farm to lead a quiet life. He had been dictator for a total of fifteen days.
In 439 BC, Rome called Cincinnatus out of retirement once again when Spurius Maelius and several others sought to seize power via a coup and install Maelius as king. Cincinnatus returned to the position of dictator to pacify this internal threat to Rome and did so quickly. Maelius was killed when Cincinnatus's second in command went to arrest him, and his coconspirators soon had a change of heart about the coup. As he had before, Cincinnatus relinquished his power and returned to private life on his farm. He died at the age of eighty-nine in 430 BC.
Almost 2,500 years after he lived, the example of Cincinnatus is often cited as the truest devotion to civic virtue. Here we have a man who not once, but twice, achieved ultimate power and surrendered it as quickly as possible. He knew that holding power for too long can corrupt and lead most people to betray their ideals. The comfort and thrill of power often entices us to shout down our better angels. It is why we have seen our elected leaders gain office as self-professed devotees of civic virtue and, assuming they ever leave office, rarely exit elected office as devoted to civic virtue as they first were.
Both Republicans and Democrats are guilty of trying to hold onto whatever power and influence their offices grant them. They use their positions to advance and solidify their status as elected officials through gerrymandering, legislative giveaways, and slick public relations strategies. Every step they take is designed with one goal in mind: to remain in power. This is exactly why Americans today feel so strongly that our elected federal officials are not there to serve the people, but themselves. This certainly contributes to how the country overwhelmingly believes that Washington is broken. The example of Cincinnatus is not a reason that we should have term limits for legislators (that's an entirely different debate), but a good reminder of how our leaders should behave. He was famous for giving up absolute power, but if you look at his overall career, you will find other things to admire. He pushed his agenda for, as the Romans called it, the "glory of Rome" and not the glory of Cincinnatus. Many of our elected officials and leaders profess they are there to help the United States, but are there to really help themselves. This is not new (history is filled with people who have sought to use their positions to make gains) and will continue throughout the course of human history. It's in our nature. However, there are those who do seek office for the right reasons and they should be celebrated. Unfortunately, when we debate the issues of the day, each side attempts to portray the opposition as somehow self-serving and seeking to hold onto power at all costs. It's a public relations strategy that only impacts us for the worse.
The goal of many elected officials is to never cede power and to hold onto it at all costs. They are the polar opposite of Cincinnatus. There can be no debate that power is a drug that gives those who hold it the ultimate high. Power begets money. Power begets success. Power begets influence. If shown the path to power, who among us would not deign or endeavor to walk such a road? Once on it, they need to keep in a constant state of forward progress while leaving those that seek to take their place behind. It is why many politicians and leaders will fight to the bitter end in order to maintain their advance on the path of power.
The public relations strategies employed by politicians seek to pit one side against the other on each and every issue. Both sides of the aisle seek to claim the moral high ground in whatever debate they are engaged in and make their opposition's point of view unpalatable to the public. Part of this has involved dumbing down the conversation and making the public believe that the word "intellectual" holds a negative connotation. Republicans in particular are guilty of this crime, as we have used this line against opponents. Sarah Palin and others have also railed against "elites" of the party. They spin the yarn that these "elites" and the amorphous "establishment" are against the common man and are pursuing some secretive agenda to benefit themselves. It is really just a way for these people to hide their own shortcomings. They cannot win an argument based on facts and reason, so they must whip up their supporters into a state of anger and then tell them who to blame. People do not like others who believe themselves smarter than they are. So why not just accuse all who display intelligence or are doing something they do not like of being snooty? It's a useful political tool, but serves no real purpose in advancing discourse.
To the Palins of the world, to think deeply is somehow to err and be deserving of scorn. Since when has being an intellectual truly been something to ridicule?! Don't Americans want to be intellectual? Don't parents hope that their children will grow up to be intellectual? This makes no sense and is actually a hindrance to the arguments that Republicans seek to make with the American people. The way we Republicans will win over new voters is through using intellectual arguments, not by calling others names or hurling insults.
Name-calling and mudslinging only backfire when it comes to winning over people. Sure, it is red meat for the base (as the presidential campaign of Donald Trump has demonstrated), as it fires them up over whatever issue is at hand. Yet, the base is already supporting us, whereas the swing opinion voters have yet to make up their minds as to what side of the argument that they will fall on. Attacks only push us apart. Now, if we took the approach that debates over issues and policy were to be fought with well-reasoned, rational, and fact-based logic, then Americans would listen.
The presidential campaign of Donald Trump would be a natural rebuttal to the recommendation that Republicans use calm and sensible arguments in order to win a debate. Sure, his bombastic style gave him the lead from the start of his campaign in June 2015 right through Super Tuesday and on. Trump's rhetoric only turned off independent voters from the Republican Party and damaged Republicans across the United States. The people who like this stream of insults are not the people that the GOP needs to target in order to grow. We already have many of them in the fold, although their support of Trump shows their dissatisfaction with how Republicans (and Democrats) have governed of late.
The dissatisfaction of the Trump supporters was warranted. For years, they had dealt with politicians who had overpromised and under-delivered. George W. Bush and other Republicans professed their fiscal conservative "credentials" and "values," but when push came to shove, they presided over a massive increase in federal spending, with it rising 60 percent over the course of Bush's presidency. In 2008, Barack Obama campaigned on bringing America and its people "hope" and "change." Yet, after he took office and when it came time for the rubber to meet the road, nothing happened. Some proposals and initiatives became law, but their impact was not felt by the people. Some of these laws and initiatives actually made their lives harder. Take the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (more commonly known as "the stimulus package"). It sought to use public funds to offset the massive decline in private spending due to the Great Recession and foster an economically healthy climate. Few citizens saw any direct impact of the $831 billion of this public spending. Then there is the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a Obamacare, which has driven the prices of insurance up and made it harder for all Americans to have access to quality health care. Obama promised hope and change, but brought gridlock and partisan discord. Citizens' outrage is perfectly reasonable and understandable.
So when a candidate who exudes success (or at least markets themselves to be successful despite evidence to the contrary) like Donald Trump comes along, they are willing to listen. He's not a creature of Washington, and he already had the name recognition because of his reality show, The Apprentice, and by saying what he felt. Trump himself was the perfect vehicle for their justifiable anger. Trump would attack anyone and everyone he could, and his supporters loved it. The attacks could be incredibly inappropriate and his backers would defend Trump with the phrase, "But he fights!" This was a reference to how they felt that our political leaders surrendered in political fights and, as a result, were somehow weak. Opponents (and sane people) would either attack or condemn the statements, and this had the impact of only hardening support for Trump. "The Donald" was the living embodiment of the term "antifragile," which means something that is resilient, and is strengthened by things that would ordinarily cause a negative impact. It was coined by Professor Nassim Taleb in his 2012 book Antifragile. Donald Trump is the antifragile candidate and it's a completely new phenomenon for many of us operatives to deal with.
Through many conversations with Trump supporters over the course of writing this book, a common theme emerged. These people, many of whom were decent and fairly normal citizens, felt that all that the government and its leaders had done for them was just take, take, and take. They did not feel like the government was giving them a single thing. They knew Trump was vulgar, thin-skinned, lacked the judgment required to be president, had a history of business failures, and generally was not qualified to sit in the Oval Office. Yet, they supported him regardless. The feeling that the government had subjected them to abuse, be it real or imagined, was palpable in these conversations. To them, the federal government took from them and gave nothing in exchange. Further, the "establishment," as Trump supporters referred to those in power, had forgotten the example and lesson of Cincinnatus. These Americans wanted to see the whole thing burned to the ground, and Donald Trump was the candidate who would take a flamethrower to the system.
At the same time, the Democratic Party had their own candidate of anger: Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. In truth, Sanders was to the left of mainstream Democrats, but solidly in line with the left's angry base. His campaign was based entirely on the issue of income inequality. Sanders raged against wealth stagnation, the power and influence of banks and corporations in our political world, and on and on and on. Like Trump, Sanders was an outsider. He had never really been a part of the Democratic Party and had only joined them in preparation for his 2016 presidential run. In fact, Sanders proudly described himself as a socialist and he didn't stop doing so when he was running for president. You have to admire the man for sticking to his convictions, even when they could be politically inconvenient.
Both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders used rhetoric on the campaign trail that incited passion among their supporters and antagonized opponents. Trump would often launch tirades, both in public appearances and on Twitter, which would demean whoever was the target of his ire. Frequently used taunts were "loser" or "nobody likes them" or "sad" or "fired, like a dog" (this begs the question of what exactly does that mean?!). And then there were the nicknames: "Lyin Ted" or "Little Marco," or "Crooked Hillary," and even "Goofy Elizabeth Warren" (whom he actually called "Pocahontas)." When it came to television personalities or media outlets, he would accuse them of having provided no journalism or having low ratings or circulation. It was quite obviously presidential.
The Sanders rhetoric was less pointed but equally passionate. He often used terms that encouraged class warfare. Meredith Warren called out Sanders and Democrats in an editorial in the Boston Globe in September 2015:
For years, Democrats have used an economic inequality argument to attract voters to their cause and pit certain groups of Americans against others. But they go beyond just making intellectual policy points. It's a call to arms in a class war they are trying to incite for their own political gain.
Warren further explained that it was Sanders himself who directly called it a war when he wrote in a July 2015 editorial, also in the Boston Globe:
It is time to say loudly and clearly that corporate greed and the war against the American middle class must end. Enough is enough!
Calling this a war against the middle class is completely inappropriate and wrong. Republicans and the left just disagree on how to achieve economic equality. Bernie Sanders knows this and despite this knowledge, exploits this for political gain. And he's not the only Democrat who does this.
Take Congressman Alan Grayson (D-Florida) who has a penchant for making patently absurd statements. In 2009, during the debate over Obamacare, he said the following of Republicans:
It's my duty and pride tonight to be able to announce exactly what the Republicans plan to do for health care in America ... It's a very simple plan. Here it is. The Republican health-care plan for America: "Don't get sick." If you have insurance, don't get sick; if you don't have insurance, don't get sick; if you're sick, don't get sick. Just don't get sick ... . If you do get sick America, the Republican health-care plan is this: die quickly.
Of course, other Democrats did not condemn or refute these crazy remarks. They didn't set the record straight that Republicans did not have a plan to kill Americans who got sick. Conservatives were justifiably upset, but the media ran interference for Grayson and the Democrats. They swept Grayson's words under the rug and barely reported on it. You can bet that if it were a Republican who had said this about Democrats, then it would be the lead story on the nightly news. Then, when Republicans attempted to bring Grayson's statement up as an example of how some Democrats were dealing with Republicans, many on the left and in the media almost mockingly said, "Those crazy Republicans, being upset about a Democratic congressman talking about their health-care plan!" Yup, the Democrats and the Democratic Party condoned this behavior.
Republicans are not without their own crazy-spewing members of the party, too. Ours help to perpetuate the myth of the "out-of-touch Republican" who embodies the caricature created by the left and mainstream media. In 2015, Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson said that homosexuality was a choice: "People who go into prison, go into prison straight — and when they come out, they're gay."
It was roundly mocked and slammed by the left and other rational groups (as it deserved to be). However, Democrats immediately set out to link Dr. Carson's misguided statement as being a view that all Republicans share. That simply is not true. Why he said it is anybody's guess, but some have speculated that it was because the statement held appeal to a certain sect of the GOP base that believes homosexuality is a lifestyle choice. The argument that Dr. Carson said this to endear himself to this particular portion of Republican voters is plausible.
Another way in which elected officials keep themselves in office is through gerrymandering. When the opportunity to draw congressional districts comes, Republicans and Democrats both seek to draw their congressional districts to their own benefit. This means that they will use census and voter registration data to determine how to carve up their state in order to make a congressional district secure for their own party. Oddly, this practice has unified elected Republicans and Democrats who compromise and agree to split the state's congressional districts a certain way.
It is no surprise that the increase in gerrymandering has coincided with the increase in partisanship and the inability of our elected officials to work together. Correlation does not imply causation in this instance, but there is anecdotal evidence to support the relationship between the two. Districts that are drawn to protect one party's grip on it do not help Americans to have the best elected representatives.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "GOP GPS"
Copyright © 2016 Evan Siegfried.
Excerpted by permission of Skyhorse Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 What a caricature we are now 1
Chapter 2 We would meet in phone booths (if they still existed) 11
Chapter 3 Hello, I would like to add you to my social network 33
Chapter 4 Charting a course 53
Chapter 5 I owe how much?! 65
Chapter 6 You are entitled to nothing 75
Chapter 7 Focus on the family 83
Chapter 8 Netflix and chill? 91
Chapter 9 Ask first, shoot later 105
Chapter 10 Bordering on insanity 119
Chapter 11 A true safe space 135
Chapter 12 Love, actually 147
Chapter 13 What is the safe word in my safe space? 159
Chapter 14 Is it just me, or is it hot in here? 177
Chapter 15 To 2018 and beyond! 189
Illustration Credits 217