The Progressive Message Is Marketable. The Conservative Message Is Not.

Scott Pinsker is a marketing and publicity expert. He has written a two-part article for Fox News, in which he analyses the 2012 election results from a marketing point of view and explains why the Democrats won and the Republicans lost.

In Part 1, Pinsker explains the difference in the two parties today. He calls the Democrats the Plaintiff Party and the Republicans the Ideology Party. Let´s see what he means.

Democratic Party

The Democratic Party is a “plaintiff party,” where various constituencies lobby to wield government power.  As the lone plaintiff party, Democrats attract voters who (rightly) recognize that their lives would be improved by reallocating American resources.

A plaintiff party is ideally positioned to attract immigrants, minorities and other groups who’ve faced historic disadvantages, because these groups are often the stated beneficiary of the plaintiff party’s legislation.  The faster these segments grow, the greater the plaintiff party’s advantage.

Basically what Mr. Pinsker is saying is that the Progressives (Democrats) have successfully divided the American electorate into voting blocks and have positioned themselves as the party that understands and is sympathetic to the issues that are important to each voting block.

Republican Party

The Republican Party is an “ideology party,” and the dominant ideology is conservatism.  Instead of using government power to advance the interests of aggrieved demographic blocks, the Republican Party seeks the support of Americans who share conservative principles: limited government, personal liberty and traditional values.  Republicans view the world in ideological terms: Ideas and policies either reflect conservative principles or they’re “wrong.”

The author then relates how the Republican candidate Romney ran hard right during the primaries and then moved to the middle during the actual campaign to try to make the election about the economy and Obama’s poor record and in doing so he avoided all wedge issues in order to appeal to the independent voters. But, we know that Obama didn’t run on his record for obvious reasons. His goal was to divide and conquer. He would use wedge issues to his advantage.

 His campaign was a shameless, unapologetic barrage of wedge-issues.  Just to expand the gender-gap: Republicans are waging a “War on Women!”  They’ll take away your birth control pills!  They’re attacking Sandra Fluke!  They’ll kill Planned Parenthood!  Out-of-touch Romney needs “binders of women!”  Republicans support “legitimate” rape!  They’ll ban abortion!

And, the Plaintiff Party strategy of divide and conquer and pandering to voting blocks worked.

…Obama’s base wasn’t motivated by the economy.  Nor were they motivated by ideology. What motivated Obama’s base was the “politics of personal association” – associations forged by class, ethnicity and other factors – and one candidate understood “them” much better than the other.  In exit-polling, Obama trumped Romney 81% to 18% on empathy.

Empathy??? The economy is in the tank and millions of people are unemployed and middle class income is falling and the we ar sixteen trillion dollars in debt and we continue to borrow or print over a trillion dollars per year just to keep our ship of state afloat; and the majority of voters were more concerned with which candidate feels my pain.

In Part 2, after educating us on how good marketing works, Mr. Pinsker explains what Republicans (Conservatives) have done wrong and what they need to do if they want to win elections.

Republicans must stop trying to make every issue a battle of ideology. It’s a losing proposition, and demographical shifts will only compound this problem in future elections. YOU might be motivated by an ideological argument.But that’s not who you’re marketing to, and if a voter isn’t motivated by ideology, STOP ARGUING IDEOLOGY!


Republicans must define ALL the benefits of conservative outcomes.Then they must develop comprehensive profiles of every voting block. Next, they must accentuate the conservative benefits that each voting block most values. Republicans must empathetically sell this message, because non-ideological voters don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Really,  Mr. Pinsker? In order to win elections, we must “accentuate the conservative benefits that each voting block most values”? If we are the party that believes in limited government, personal liberty and traditional values, then what values do we have in common with the Sandra Flukes of America or with La Raza followers or with the SEIU and the UAW or with people who can’t contain their excitement over having  a Obamaphone or with those who think it is fine to take from the rich and redistribute it to everyone else or with those who have lived for generations on our welfare system? No, Mr. Pinsker. If we do what you suggest, we wouldn’t be “conservatives” any more. We would only be members of a party called the Republicans and we would be selling the same snake oil as the Democratic (Plaintiff) Party.

Ronald Reagan didn’t have to pander to voting blocks to sell conservatism. But, he was a good salesman, wasn’t he? So, where are our conservative value salesmen today?

Well, now you know what I’m thinking. What are your thoughts?

22 thoughts on “The Progressive Message Is Marketable. The Conservative Message Is Not.

  1. It’s going to be tough to market conservatism with the media acting as the propaganda/armed wing of the Democratic party. Most people still get their news from the MSM, believe them and trust them. Conservative bloggers it seems are the only ones who don’t.

    We have already lost the social revolution. Women did and will continue in the future vote with their “lady parts.” The Republicans have been successfully demonized as the party of “old white men.”

    And in America, there is nothing worse than that.

  2. He’s right. We are an increasingly feminized culture, and empathy and other emotional toucht-feely concepts are what it takes to sell yourself. Logic is out the window.

  3. The conservative message as extolled by Fox News, Rush, National Review is not marketable, I’ll agree, but I differ as to why. It is not grounded in reality whatsoever – the mainstream conservative outlets don’t challenge the big government paradigm, but just talk about tinkering with it. The fundamental flaws in our government were deliberately brought about by Fabian progressives over a 100 year period.

    Many independent democrats and republicans eschew both parties because they see, from their own perspectives dangerous things happening. People being whisked away to the cornfield for their politics, Homeland Security arming itself to the teeth, FEMA camp and military internment contracts being bid on, big brother surveillance. Stuff like that makes a thinking person not give a crap about crafted political messages.

    I’m more concerned with not getting killed by flying robots of death, or shot while refusing to comply with some inane rule yet to be concocted. Aside from just a handful of Congressmen, none of them talk about this stuff, and that is why it is not marketable – not grounded in the reality that our rightful manufactring jobs are in freaking China and both the Ds and Rs helped to make it happen.

  4. The United States is a Matriarchy; and the growing competition is coming from the Latin-Patriarchy.

    Jim expresses the ideal point of view for conservatism – and I agree with him in trying to reach for it. In an imperfect world, however, and considering my definitions above, we must learn to win power, and some of the winning demands some hard to digest strategies (some of them reflected on the views of Mr. Pinsker).

    So how about some hard practical solutions, instead of so many generalities and amorphous principles?

    For starters, the Republican Party must get rid of the Primary process to select its candidates. The process is sheer poison from which it is difficult to recover in time for a general election. If what the recent election process did to Romney is not recognized yet, i.e., the immigration issue among others, we have very little hope of adapting to better winning strategies.

  5. I didn’t read the Pinsker article, but from what you posted I thought that what he was saying is that Conservatives have to tell people WHY conservative principles will be better for them than the empty promises of the left. For example, we want to keep taxes low, not to do “favors for the rich” or for any other constituency, we want to keep taxes low because lower taxes keeps money in the economy for where is leads to economic growth, which leads to more jobs, which leads to higher salaries, which makes YOU better off. Supporting policies that lead to jobs (reducing the tax and regulatory burden, for example) and increased pay gives you the opportunity to have a much better, more prosperous life than the left’s plan for you, which is to accept whatever they give you as long as you obey the rules they set up and heartless bureaucrats enforce.

    Republicans and conservatives do a lousy job of conveying the message of WHY conservative principles are actually better for people. They also do a lousy job of explaining why liberal/progressive policies are actually harmful.

    The big thing we have going for us right now is the opportunity to explain why a 16+ trillion dollar debt is extremely harmful, and it’s harmful to everyone, and particularly harmful to the poor and middle class. Whatever benefits people are enjoying from the government will become absolutely meaningless when hyper-inflation hits and every dollar you have is worth 50 cents or less all of a sudden in terms of buying power. It is a tax that nobody can avoid. The debt our politicians are racking up is owed by somebody, and that somebody is YOU and it is your children. You will pay, one way or the other. Either they’ll actually tax us at the level we need to be taxed at to pay the debt (making us all serfs working for the government) or they will inflate it away, taking all of your money by stealth… By imposing the tax you can’t avoid even if all you have is one measly dollar.

    The only way to avoid that outcome is to make the economy grow (spectacularly!), and it doesn’t grow by virtue of a big government sucking money out of the private sector and writing rules that make it difficult to do anything, including hire workers. It grows by the conservative principle of free enterprise and capitalism. That is the only way that everyone, from the poorest among us, through the middle class, and even the rich can avoid the collision between our debt and our standard of living.

    It has to be explained. It’s what we’ve talked about so often, Jim. We need to educate… to “sell” people on conservative principles and sound economic policy. You only sell it when people understand “what’s in it for me”. The libs are great at lying to people about what great things are in their policies for people (why any African-American would vote Democrat after decades of broken promises that Democrat policies would improve their lives, I’ll never know). We need to sell conservative principles, including economic principles, to people by telling them what’s in it for them. And we also need to explain why the libs are lying. We’re so busy not being harsh that we miss opportunities.

  6. Another marketing mistake made by the Romney/Ryan campaign was their trademark logo. Whatever possessed them to copy the Rolls Royce emblem for their campaign is beyond me. That by itself made people think Romney was out of touch with normal everyday Americans.

      1. Rolls Royce is one of the most iconic automobile trademarks in the world. Anyone who doesn’t recognize it has been living under a rock all their lives. Of course there are other factors that caused the GOP loss, but using a symbol of the rich and famous was a “face palm” mistake.

  7. Unfortunately, we do have to market the constitutional principals because that’s what spins our culture these days. Kids (for decades now) aren’t learning the principals in school and parents who didn’t learn them pass their materialism and scamming onto their kids. Our culture is depraved and deprived. Those who are totally dependent upon the government are not happy but they don’t know why they aren’t happy and they think it’s “someone’s” fault. Instead of looking at themselves they look at those who have more. Envy. The powerful elite play upon that emotion.

  8. The Democrats ran a divide and conquer strategy and it worked because they were able to appeal to the different individual groups. Now we are both divided and conquered and the benefits the Democrats of course. Meanwhile we have nobody who is efficient at selling our message and until we do we will never be able to rally the American people around conservative ideals.

  9. This election, Republicans simply got outmaneuver by Obama.

    The biggest problem Republicans have is that they treat issues like they are real issues. Liberals don’t. It is the manufactured issues that took the “R”s down in 2012.

    Obama liked his reelection strategy so well that he has decided to run the rest of his presidency the same way.

  10. People empathize and feel sorry for Obama. I get what this dude is saying.

    Nobody empathizes with some elite rich schmuck who has everything. That’s the problem. We keep offering up these silver spooned, rich, ol man “whitey’s.” Nobody likes them Jim.
    Nobody likes them..

    Why is that so hard to understand? It ain’t rocket science.

    1. What’s interesting about that is that Obama is the most blessed person I can imagine… riding through life on some weird magic carpet. Goes to the best private schools (yet gets credit for being an average guy), becomes head of the Harvard Law Review without ever publishing anything, writes two autobiographies before accomplishing anything real, gets elected to the Illinois state senate where his main effort seemed to be letting people know he was present, getting elected to the US Senate, where he does absolutely nothing except run for President, then gets elected POTUS as the least qualified candidate ever to hold office. He then goes on to do damned near everything wrong, except figuring out how to blame someone else for his incompetence, and he gets re-elected. As my dear departed father would have said, “Who is this fuckin’ guy?”

      At least Romney actually accomplished something. A few somethings. Which “silver spoon” is better… the guy who glides along without doing anything but whispering sweet nothings into people’s ears and just keeps getting things handed to him. or the guy who takes his opportunities and actually uses them to create great things? Our society is pretty screwed up if we can’t tell the difference between a con artist like Obama and someone who actually has accomplished something.

  11. I’m with you on that characterization, Pat. On the GOP conservative message…suddenly I was reminded of a sales rep who used to work for me. She would tell me about another sales rep she disliked, but was successful…who, she said, “could sell $hI! in a bag.” That is what O and the Dems are ….selling “$hI! in a bag.” The GOP message could be the most eloquently delivered message of pure bliss, but the dumbed down masses wouldn’t get it. This also reminds me of a little reward my kids’ swim team used to hand out….a pop can wrapped in paper that said, “I CAN.” The low information voters don’t want that reward. They don’t want an “I CAN.” They want freebies. So the GOP can sell independent freedoms and earned prosperity all they want….but those people who want the freebies don’t want to buy that. That would mean they have to do something for themselves. Evidently, 50% of the population doesn’t want to do things for themselves anymore. When Romney said there was 47% of voters who were unreachable to him….he was not joking. He was exactly right.

    Where does that leave us? It leaves us with a population that cannot and will not comprehend the “I CAN” idea. Why work when O is going to give you an OPhone? Why do anything? Now that is sad, I admit….but I think that is where we are, realistically.

  12. Ronald Reagan didn’t have to pander to voting blocks to sell conservatism.

    True. But since those decades, America has shifted to far to the Left!

    There will need to be a lot of personal suffering before America ever shifts to the Right again, IMO. 😦

  13. Do you think losing the 2012 election to liberals had anything to do with election fraud? Just perhaps that would make me more convinced that in several districts the Republican candidate for president had no votes – at all….you buy that and maybe you’d like to buy a cement boat I heard about that someone wants to sell.

    1. I wish I knew what impact voter fraud had in the election. I would feel better if I could believe the election was stolen. Sadly, millions of people, who in the past voted Republican, stayed home. That makes me sick!

      BYW, I knew a guy back in 1968 who built a boat out of prestressed concrete.

      1. OMG, living near the Chesapeake Bay there were lots of stories of strange boats of unique construction. Someone started the story of the concrete boat story and I always considered it so…..I would never go aboard that one.

      2. New story:Sometimes you just cannot argue with the numbers. If these numbers are correct and true, and they’ve been checked and re-checked, the USA has bigger problems on their hands other than who was falsely elected President.

        From Fox News TV Bill O’Reilly’s message board:

        “Most everyone suspected fraud, but these numbers prove it and our government and media refuse to do anything about it.” In my inbox today.

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