November 12, 2008
Proposal for Action by Conservative Organizations
Conservatives are giving voice to moving ideas to govern. Heidi Brennan developed this article which deserves a wide audience.
Obama: Did we elect a president?
or a Brand?
Proposal for Action by Conservative Organizations
By Heidi L. Brennan
The results of last week’s national election are being endlessly dissected and discussed in news rooms, board rooms, and living rooms, but the following should be clear:
The loss of the White House and substantial losses in both houses of Congress are NOT due to a failure of conservative policy. They are the failure of those in the Republican Party who neutralized, ignored, and/or fought every conservative principle over the past eight years.
The Democratic Party outspent and outmaneuvered Republicans, especially at the grassroots level and in sophisticated internet communications strategy.
The two most interesting people to emerge in this campaign are: Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber.
The current collapse of our economy is shrinking everyone’s budget, and the consequences will include reduction of donations to non-profit advocacy institutions, including those promoting conservative values. Though funding will lessen (initially), a strong conservative values base continues to exist and will make every effort to contribute to dynamic advocacy. Conservative voters are poised to become new community activists. They may rightfully expect new ideas and strategies for promoting enduring principles. Education and policy organizations must find ways to engage these grassroots conservative values advocates with new resources, developing simplified ways to deliver timely political information along with easily usable policy research information.
Palin and the Plumber captured the enthusiastic support of voters because they transcended debate by doing more than espousing basic conservative principles. They told their personal stories in an authentic, simple manner effectively linked to election debate. There were no gimmicks, and no controlled published biographies in advance. Today’s most successful public relations and marketing plans tell a story, engaging the targeted consumer, voter, or client so that they are motivated to act.
Conservative organizations should consider the following:
· Prepare stories and recruit/prepare effective storytellers to reflect their mission/values.
Assess current databases and develop others, especially directed at grassroots conservative activism.
Increase the use of internet-based media/information-sharing tools.
Expand leadership training opportunities beyond the college age population, to include high school and middle school students.
Recognizing that all parents are their children’s primary teachers, especially of moral and civic values, develop easily-accessible internet-based materials for parents to utilize within their families.
Conservatives cannot afford to wait until January’s inauguration of our next President and Congress to implement new thinking and approaches. Organization development should begin now.
more at the jump
I am frustrated to see the huge positive impact of Sarah Palin met with so little recognition by conservative leaders that they need to hire Palin types. For twenty years, I was the primary spokeswoman and lead commentary/policy writer/editor for Welcome Home, the monthly journal of Mothers At Home. I went toe-to-toe with members of Congress and the media on tax and child care policy. I spoke to hundreds of mother support groups and conferences, reducing the arcane topic of taxes to a digestible topic for their understanding and explanation to others. I did this for free while policy analysts in every major conservative family policy group referred reporters to me because “the media needs to hear from mothers.” Oh really? You “betcha.” I stopped doing this 4 years ago because I could no longer afford to give away my time that way, and decided to move on.
In the first 30 seconds that Palin spoke when introduced by McCain, I knew the conservative movement had found a female Ronald Reagan. No wonder the “drive-by” media went ballistic. They were scared, very scared. I began receiving personal emails from women friends and former colleagues from all over the country overjoyed with Palin. They reported moderate and even liberal women friends being drawn to her.
I was very excited by Palin’s ability to transcend the working mother/at-home mother dichotomy. My 20 years with MAH put me on the front-lines of the media created “Mommy Wars,” trying to move a lose-lose debate into a realm of understanding that most mothers put their children’s needs first while trying to maintain other responsibilities and needs in their lives. Mothers didn’t need convincing. It was the media and academic radical feminist ideologues who stoked flames of conflict to advance their agenda.
At the first Sarah rally, here in Fairfax, I observed at-home mothers with strollers and diaper bags cheering shoulder to shoulder (perhaps I should say hip to hip) with women in business attire carrying brief cases. It confirmed my first impression: Palin represented all women unapologetic for their devotion to family regardless of employment decisions. She showed us that great ideas benefit from simple statements about the realities of life, not empty, feel-good or complicated rhetoric.