Nothing makes me cringe more than watching a Republican parody of “Say Yes to the Dress.”
I write this as I lay in the corner of my room in the fetal position; shivering and crying.
Yes, the parody was that bad.
So bad, I had to shield my eyes.
The ad was for Rick Scott’s reelection campaign in Florida, back in 2014. Oddly enough, it was created by the College Republican National Committee.
I’m assuming the “college” part of that committee is nonexistent.
The ad starts off with a random girl talking about her efforts to find the right wedding dress. She finds “The Rick Scott” dress and loves it. It’s inexpensive, modern; Rick Scott is becoming a “trusted brand.”
It then moves into the mother recommending the expensive outdated dress. This dress is affectionately named after Rick’s opponent, Charlie Crist.
Of course, the girl and her friends are shocked by the mother’s recommendations. And the girl ends up going with “the Rick Scott” dress.
Despite the cheesy title (Say Yes to the Candidate) and the pathetic excuse for dialogue, this ad has bigger problems to deal with. Like, its generalized outlook of women.
As Amanda Marcotte wrote in Slate about the parody ad…
“…it appears to be written by men who learned everything they know about women from reading bridal magazines.”
She also jabs at the Republicans cultural deficiencies when she says…
“It’s cute that the Republicans who created this ad think young women are still getting married!”
Yes, the Republican Party has a grandparents’ view of how culture works today. But that’s the least of their problems.
The main problem is…the Republican Party sucks at getting their message out to Americans.
They suck at outreach, like, a lot.
“Say Yes to the Candidate” is only a small example of this (although a terrifyingly nauseous example).
Hispanic Outreach Hasn’t Gone Any Better Either
Thanks to certain sections of the GOP, and Trump’s recent comments on the nature of immigrants, it’s no wonder Hispanics aren’t that into the Republican Party.
Who wants to be a part of a party that thinks you’re a criminal or rapist because of your race.
But the GOP’s failure to connect with Hispanics goes beyond party outliers. It also falls into the tone, language, and message they use when discussing immigration.
When Jeb Bush commented that many illegals come to the US as an “act of love” for their families, he was harshly criticized by conservatives.
Rick Perry defended a law allowing illegal immigrants to pay in state tuition, going so far as to call opponents of the law “heartless.”
The rest of the GOP doesn’t seem to understand where Rick and Jeb are coming from. They’re still using the same old messages and language that will only continue to push away Hispanics.
The Republican National Committee chairman, Reince Priebus made a good point on this that I think is worth repeating…
“Well, look, I’ve said many times, the way you communicate and tone is very important. Sometimes it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. I think all of our moms have told us that.”
Reaching out to Hispanics has continued to fail because of the message we send their way.
Don’t Even Get Me Talking About Outreach to Women
Even without the horrible “Say Yes to the Candidate” campaign ad, republicans still suck at reaching out to female voters.
Like this ad, where four women “talk” about a Colorado election. It sounds more like four politicians talking than actual women.
Or this ad, where a woman talks about her online dating.
“The not-quite-clever premise is a single woman telling how she ‘fell in love’ with an unspecified man’s ‘online profile’ but now says the “relationship is in trouble” because of his failed promises. ‘He’s great at promises,’ she huffs.”
“This ad tries to bluntly change the subject from reproductive freedom: ‘He thinks the only thing I care about is free birth control, but he won’t even let me keep my own doctor.’ Then — surprise! — it turns out Barack Obama was [the] online suitor.”
Republicans need to stop making horrible campaign ads, right now! It’s embarrassing.
But the bigger issue behind it all is that republicans fail to address real questions women have about their policies.
Instead of directly addressing concerns about reproductive freedom, they sidestep the issue and tell women what they should be focusing on.
Pretty insulting to say the least.
Republicans fail to see women as customers who need their concerns addressed before they buy the product.
Stop addressing the women who have already bought into the party. Stop preaching to the crowd. Start addressing the concerns of women outside party walls.
And could we get some real women to make these campaign ads next time?
The Main Failures of Republican Outreach
Before the party starts to fix their atrocious outreach efforts, they need to recognize the areas they’ve failed in.
Here’s the main ones…
- Crafting the wrong message for the audience they want to reach out to
- Using the wrong language when engaging with said audience
- Using the wrong tone when engaging with said audience
- Failing to recognize the real issues and concerns of the audience
- Failing to address those concerns and fears
- Refusing to understand the motives (and emotions) of the audience
Some Common-Sense Fixes that Republicans Need to Implement
We know how the Republican Party has messed up, outreach wise. And we know the main failings of their outreach campaign.
So how do we fix it?
For starters, we can look at past successful campaign ads. Take Eisenhower’s 1952 presidential win. He won with 58% of the female vote and 53% of the male vote.
Now obviously, this was a different time period, socially and politically. But Eisenhower’s female targeted campaign ads were widely successful.
In his ad, real women talked about why they supported Eisenhower for president. Real women, real issues, real words.
So how about this? Let real women talk on camera about why they support the Republican Party. Grab a variety of age and race and let them talk about why they support the party. Stop the cheesy political ads. Just let your supporters talk. And please, for heaven’s sake, address the real questions women have about republican policies.
Next: craft an immigration message that relates with Hispanics (and even illegals!). Instead of focusing on deportation and building a wall, focus on encouraging legal immigration. Talk about how the Republican Party will loosen the path to citizenship. Talk about how the party will encourage immigration, making it easier to come into the country legally.
You don’t have to give up on securing the border. You just need to craft your immigration message in a way that relates to the issues and concerns of Hispanic voters.
Next: take a lesson from Rand Paul’s outreach efforts to the black community. He’s addressing their concerns and issues. Stop comparing welfare programs to slavery. Stop saying blacks should support privatizing Social Security because of their shorter life expectancy (yes, republicans actually said that).
Finally: Empathize with the fears and concerns of minorities. You can’t craft the right message if you don’t understand their plight. If you don’t realize what their daily fears are, your outreach will fail. Don’t sidestep their issues, or worse, totally dis them as unimportant.
The key pillars of outreach are Understanding, Listening, and Addressing.
The Republican Party has been missing these for quite some time.
You can’t craft a message that will relate to Americans without first addressing their fears and concerns. You can’t address those fears without first listening to them. And you can’t listen without first understanding their plight.
A successful outreach effort is one that leaves behind all the rhetoric and hate. It leaves behind the self-righteous arrogance. It leaves behind the judgment, aggressiveness, and bigotry.
And in return builds itself on empathy, understanding, and openness. Conversations become the backbone. Humility and friendliness shine through. And people begin to see that you actually care about their lives (regardless of your policy choices).
The failures of the Republican Party are a warning for the rest of us Liberty minded individuals.
If we aren’t careful, we’ll repeat what happened to the GOP.
If we don’t focus on outreach, we’ll lose the conversation. And then we’ll lose the elections, and then the nation.
Freedom isn’t won through debates and petty arguments. It’s won by showing Americans how important Freedom is to a successful nation.
And we can only do that by understanding their fears, and addressing them with Freedom.