Right now, Republicans are going through a deep analysis of what they're doing wrong in the public political discourse.
Here are five lessons that, taken together, might do well going into future elections and persuading voters to support the conservative agenda:
1. Understand the difference between value and numbers.
Republicans tend to think that stating the factual case of numbers is going to win the argument. If they were arguing in front of a parliament of machines, the arguments would win the day hands down. However, humans are non-solely numbers driven. We're contextual thinkers, who develop abstract concepts of what's good and bad that add definition to the world around us. It's what makes us unique as a species, and in the end, highly unpredictable in some of our behaviors.
Think of it in terms like this. You are selling a home across the street from a foreclosure listed at the same price. The foreclosure is immaculate — four bedrooms, stainless appliances, big garage. Yours is a ranch home, two bedrooms, with a big yard out back. A prospetive family comes in, looks at both, and chooses your home over the foreclosure.
Why? They have four dachshunds that hate stairs and love the sunshine. Price being equal, they chose yours because of the value they place on their pets as part of their family. Republicans needs to understand how to market to the dachshund owners better. Not everyone is an investor.
2. Learn how to sell ugly product with sexy explanations.
That said, Republicans need to have a strong foundation in reality and numbers. One of the biggest problems the party tends to have when discussing values is they play a one or the other, but never both in conjuction. For example, Republicans were quick to call Obama a "socialist" and "marxist" during the 2012 presidential campaign. This is great for the red meat voters, but most people who are not political junkies will say "what the hell does that even mean?"
Republicans might do well to model their arguments in the same fashion The Economist uses to explain currency discrepancies. The "Big Mac Index" started as a lighthearted attempt to display for readers the ways that different economies purchase the disgusting fast food item (I hate the special sauce). For example, Americans can see they're better served to buy their burgers in Mexico than they are Canada. It's now cited as a global standard, and has been subjected to at least 20 known academic studies.
Easy to read. Easy to understand. Easy to sell. Numbers can be sexy again.
3. Embrace the leftist college environment.
Anybody who tells you the right isn't subjected to blistering attacks on college campuses is a fool. North of the border, student government organizations have called for Canadian universities to boycott Israeli professors. With "shocking" results, a large portion of the professoriate said they would openly discriminate against conservative colleagues if given the opportunity. College campuses are a hotbed of liberalism, and that's not going to change any time soon. Just by the very nature of the environment, it's going to attract more leftists than other communities would.
That said, if Republicans approach the college campus with an open mind and a committed heart, they can learn a great deal about how the left operates intellectually and how to counter balance their efforts in greater society. Student governments are a body where most members are leftist. Use it as a practice arena for debating the hauty left in a public body, and learn how to build coalitions in hostile environments. Debate teams are notoriously left, but also give you an unmatched opportunity to hone rhetorical skills. Most importantly, you gain a better understanding of what you're arguing against.
4. Don't be afraid to call something "evil," but don't rush to say everything is evil.
Bad people do bad things. Theft is a bad thing. Threatening someone at the point of a gun is a bad thing. The only difference between theft and taxation is we can't imprison our public officials for stupidity in public spending (although, if Illinois is any example, they should be criminally liable sometimes). Now, not every policy is evil and certainly a good number of elected officials on the left and right are good people at heart. Good people sometimes do dumb things, and they have to be called out for it.
Sometimes, the agressive, hard language is necessary for these good people to understand their evil ways sometimes. Verbal packaging relates to the way we use language to persuade other individuals. Techniques must be utilized to drive the position home that certain policies and philosophies are antithetical to the American constitutional republic. That's not to say every policy is equally destructive. The right must learn to discern our opportunities to use such heated language and those times to keep our mouth shut.
5. Center everything on individualism and individual rights.
Republicans love to tout the importance of the Constitution. For good reason, too, since the Constitution is still a very important foundation in our society with a unique place in our cultural fabric. However, Republicans as of late tend to stress that our Constitution is a document ordained by God it seems like, losing sight of the fundamental difference between how our country was founded and so many others.
The Constitution, for the first time in human history, gave the power of law-making to individual citizens. In other words, it stated an undeniable fact that our lives belonged to no other man (at least in principle), and certainly were owned by a king or aristocracy. For the first time, individualism was protected by the power of law. Republicans would do well to remember that above all else.
This means respecting the use of rights in ways that we don't agree with and spending our energy discouraging irresponsibility as oppose to preemptively outlawing certain behaviors. For example, the right to life movement could do far more good for society fighting teenage pregnancy and the availability of abortion as a preferable choice than overturning Roe v. Wade outright.