Conservatives pitch ‘opportunity for all, favoritism for none’

Former Sen. Jim DeMint speaks during the RedState Gathering in Atlanta earlier this month. (AJC Photo / Hyosub Shin)

Former Sen. Jim DeMint speaks during the RedState Gathering in Atlanta earlier this month. (AJC Photo / Hyosub Shin)

Welcome back to the party of Lincoln.

If there was a surprisingly consistent theme to the RedState Gathering in Atlanta — where some 800 conservative activists heard from nine presidential candidates earlier this month — it was the broadening of the Republican message to include more Americans. The idea wasn’t to stray from conservative principles, or to talk differently to different groups, but to talk about conservatism as improving all Americans’ lives.

So Washington doesn’t need, and Republicans shouldn’t offer, a different program for every sub-group of Americans, said former Sen. Jim DeMint. “If you tell Americans you’re giving them opportunity for all but favoritism for none,” he told the crowd, “most of them will take that deal.”

In an interview afterward, DeMint, who now heads the powerhouse Heritage Foundation, said conservatives have long trailed the left at communicating a broad message. But he argued they’re making strides from “trying to explain policies, rather than helping people see this is really going to make their lives better.

“That’s what we’re in this for,” DeMint continued. “And we can prove that what this president’s done, and what liberal-leftist policies have done around the world, don’t make people’s lives better, they don’t help the poor.”

The new messaging wasn’t always evident in the GOP’s first primary debate (hello, Donald Trump) but it did show up.

It was in Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s observation that “America’s a miracle country, and we have to restore the sense that miracle can apply to you.”

It was in the life story Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said would give him the moral high ground against a certain wealthy Democrat: “If I am our nominee, how can Hillary (Clinton) lecture me about living paycheck to paycheck? I was raised paycheck to paycheck. If I am our nominee, how can Hillary lecture me about student debt? Until recently, I was paying down student loans.”

And DeMint wasn’t the only one speaking in more inclusive terms in Atlanta. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (a strong possibility for the bottom of the GOP ticket) recalled watching as a child when her immigrant father, wearing a turban, was treated poorly at a produce stand alongside a South Carolina highway — a story, she said, which helped turn the tide when her effort to remove the Confederate battle flag from her state’s capitol grounds this summer hit a snag.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry made an explicit Lincoln reference to open his speech, talking about how the first Republican president argued against Know Nothing nativism (hello again, Donald Trump). Perry talked about Texas’ tort reform not as having saved hospitals and doctors money, but as having enhanced health-care access by bringing more doctors into the state.

It wasn’t just the politicians. Before a debate watch party, RedState attendees watched a pair of documentaries about faith-based efforts to free people from drug addiction. A panel of activists at the event discussed abusive civil asset forfeiture laws in Georgia and elsewhere.

There was plenty of traditional conservative fare, too: lessening the tax and regulatory burden, ensuring peace through military strength. But the broader message was noticeable to me, as someone who hears a lot political talk, and should pay dividends if it’s noticeable to other Americans, too.

(Note: I’m back from a week of vacation and ready to get back to writing. This piece originally appeared in the print edition and on MyAJC.com at the start of my time off, but I think it’s still quite relevant as I expect these themes to continue to be a major part of the GOP primary race.)

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57 comments
Shar1
Shar1

The GOP has pushed and pushed for the largest income inequality in history, and they've achieved it.


The party's candidates stood on the debate stage - all of them men - and vied with each other as to how to force American women to carry fetuses they don't want, with absolutely no consequences for the sperm donors.  They also competed to out-harsh each other on keeping women from controlling their own bodies, up to and including advocating that women die rather than have a choice.


The Republican Party has nothing to offer anyone who is female, or brown, or middle class.  There is no "broadening message" that can cover up the simple fact that they advocate having rich old white men use the force of law to mandate everyone else do what is in their own best interest.


The Party has become a repellent, scary parody of America's founding principles, and their efforts to portray that as "inclusive" is straight out of Orwell's "1984".

Claver
Claver

Talk is cheap.  I'll give Kasich some credit for taking actions that follow up on his talk.  Rubio, not so much.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Given decades of Democratic policies, I fear too many among us wouldn't recognize opportunity if it sat down next to 'em.

I hope I'm wrong. I hope they want something more than government's "aide". 

lvg
lvg

GOP - party of the common man .?????????????

I haven't laughed so hard since Nixon's resignation speech when he tried to get sympathy claiming his parents were just dirt farmers. 

Heritage Foundation and Demint  could not give a fig about the everyday folks. They do not grade GOP legislators based on populism.    As Truman said  the damn Republicans are controlled by too many damn  generals-General Electric; General Foods; General Motors and General Eisenhowerl 

JKLtwo
JKLtwo

Funny how equal opportunity is a terrible thing to the Democrats.

Dusty2
Dusty2

Well, I se Gov. Haley is mentioned as a fine politician.  She comes across as "one for the people".  But her performance with the Confederate flag was hysterical action backed by a tragedy but used for a political performance.  No deep thought!  Just shoot immediately from the hip and please the crowd.  She has little or no  Southern or USA history of her own.  I think it does help when  you are representing  people  to have  an experience and background in the region, not just a pleasing personality.    .  .  . 


Then that story about her father could happen to anybody whether they had on a turban or not.  Ugly people say ugly things to just about everybody and you can call it discrimination.


Discrimination is an ugly thing but to use it as a crutch displays weakness.  Every human weakness cannot be called discrimination.      


JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

@Dusty2  , Haley was born Nimrata Nikki Randhawa in Bamberg, South Carolina, on January 20, 1972.  All Nikki Haley has is a Southern history.  Just say she's not White if that is what you mean. Everybody knows it anyway.


Racism and Discrimination happen. The founding fathers were not great people to everyone (from below).  These are facts, but it seems like Republicans try to hide them or deny they exist.  It doesn't mean that you don't love America if you acknowledge the wrongs.  You don't stop loving your wife or kids because they have done bad things or are bad people at times.  America is no different.

stogiefogey
stogiefogey

"...ensuring peace through military strength."

Unfortunately that, in the past, for Republicans has meant injecting the US military into every brush fire in keeping with our role as World Policeman. See Bush, George WMD. The inclusiveness issue is very important, but so is the widely held perception that Republicans can't wait to start the next war.

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

In Republican policy-making, opportunity comes in the form of a job.  No wonder Democrats don't get it.

lvg
lvg

@LilBarryBailout I have yet to see anyone in the GOP do anything to encourage or help create jobs since Obama has been in office. Just look at the five year road and transit bill they killed over GOP created insanity and infighting. How many jobs did that cost?????????.

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@lvg @LilBarryBailout

I was talking about real jobs, not government-created jobs.  Real jobs created by the free market make more efficient use of capital and other resources and therefore create more value and benefits than government jobs.

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

Please cite for us a couple of Republican policies that limit opportunity to the 5%.

Thanks.

Mick11
Mick11

Too bad republican policies don't work for the people (see kansas) that's the problem, only the wealthy deserve opportunity. Great for the 5%, crappola for the other 95%...

LDH2O
LDH2O

Opportunity for all? Statistics clearly show that income inequality has been on the rise in the US since the 70's yet they say we all have equal opportunity? They can have their own opinions but not their own facts and the facts contradict what they are saying.

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@LDH2O

Not sure why you would think that equality of opportunity necessarily means equality of outcome.  Some people have different abilities, different levels of ambition, and different goals in life.  The labor market changes over time, valuing some skills much higher than others.  And globalization means that if your skills are easily duplicated in low-wage countries, you're going to see your income go down or your job disappear.

Try getting off the leftist talking points and get a grip on reality.  It's not all that difficult to understand.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@LilBarryBailout @LDH2O  It would be useless to argue with those who have such a primitive understanding of the issue that they think that those who criticize the extent of income inequality want equality of outcome. Of course, they do not do that when the Republicans attack (quite cynically) the President because the income inequality has not improved during his tenure.

straker
straker

"favoritism for none"


That's really a good one.


The Republican Part is of the rich, by the rich and for the rich.


Only a useful tool would believe otherwise.



LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@straker

The same Republican party that holds a majority in both houses of Congress?

Must be more rich people than I thought.

How do you define "rich", I wonder?

lvg
lvg

C'mon Kyle quit the hype of Erikson's little right wing confab here. Kasich is not a darling of the cons by any stretch and is too rational and willing to compromise to appeal to the average right wing  GOP voter. A fascist, narcissist, bloated 1%er and demagogue like Trump with extremist views and no concept of compromise like his water boy, Ted Cruz appeals to Red States groupies.

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@lvg

You do understand that Trump's "fascist" views include support for abortion, gun control, Planned Parenthood, and Hillary Clinton (prior to her being his potential opponent), right?

Caius
Caius

I will make a personal observation; South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is the most appealing and accomplished politician I have seen in this cycle. The way she handled questions during one on one media interviews re the Charleston shootings and the confederate flag was a text book case of how to.


DawgDadII
DawgDadII

"Conservatives pitch ‘opportunity for all, favoritism for none’"


The real shame of this - this is NOT a "conservative" message, this is the bedrock fundamental founding purpose and promise of our NATION. If this is not taught to everyone, acknowledged and reinforced in our communications, and clearly understood by EVERYONE - we need to identify the culprits and politically defeat them, because they are anti-American at the root, in heart and mind. This is not a partisan matter, it is a matter of humanity. If people are making it a partisan matter . . .

lvg
lvg

@LilBarryBailout @DawgDadII Yeah family values like punishing people for sodomy and  homosexuality. Time to reinstate those values and do away with Kenedy and those liberal lesbian Justices who think gay marriage is cool. Bet that would  make you happy?

Also as to that personal responsibility thing, is it ok if we do away with Ronnie's program of socialism in the ER and make people get insurance or pay?

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@lvg @LilBarryBailout @DawgDadII

"Family values" of the kind that would mean that kids get to have a mom and a dad and a normal family, so they're less likely to end up as criminals, drug addicts, and wards of the state.

And if you want to require payment for services rendered at the ER, I'd be fine with that.  And so would you--you'd stroke a big check to charity to help make your dream of health care for all a reality, right?

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

@DawgDadII  , This is a complete lie.  The opportunity in this country was for white, male landowners.  If you were Black, Native American, a woman or a poor white man, you were there to serve the rich white landowners. You couldn't vote and did not have a say in any operations of this country. Favoritism was one of the founding principles.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@JFMcNamara @DawgDadII The opportunity in this country was for white, male landowners.


Correct


For most of this countries history there was white affirmative action. Which had to be dismantled by law and if you remember it wasn't exactly a peaceful process. 

HDB0329
HDB0329

@JFMcNamara @DawgDadII .....interesting that Republicans won't come into the inner cities to attempt to spread their tripe....because too many realize that what they're trying to sell....won't be bought by those who REALLY know what the GOP is about........

lvg
lvg

@LilBarryBailout @lvg @DawgDadII I already stroke the big check for the unisured and illegals getting free ER care. Ipaid $2.00 for one Tylenol and $5 for the paper cup to cover other people's care. Its Ronnie's socialism care at any hospital or Reagnacare.


And your boy Trump is an example of  normal family life? Ask Marla Maples who lives in Georgia and bore a kid by him. Her Playboy pinups sure are something.

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@lvg @LilBarryBailout @DawgDadII

"Uninsured"?

How can that be, after Obama worked his magic?

Bottom line is that the same people who were paying the bills prior to Obamacare are still paying the bills, and the same people who were mooching before are still mooching.  The moochers just get a little self-esteem boost by pretending they have insurance just like those folks who work for a living.  It's the healthcare equivalent of trophies kids get for participating.

MarkVV
MarkVV

One thing politicians of both parties - especially political candidates – are good at are slogans.

As for Marco Rubio’s zingers about “lecturing about paycheck,” “lecturing about student debt” (quite transparently well prepared in advance), all that needs to be remembered is who has given the nation Social Security and other social programs – the wealthy FDR.

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@MarkVV

Thanks for "giving" us those programs that we pay for with our tax dollars and which deliver less in benefits than if we had invested the money in the stock market.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@LilBarryBailout @MarkVV  The stupid people say things like that. First they say that people would be better of investing money in stock market than having a guaranteed income from Social Security, and then call those who try that and lose money “weak and stupid.” They are the mindless, unintelligent people who cannot understand that there are many people who have other purposes in life than following and studying the stock market.

HDB0329
HDB0329

@MarkVV ....Rubio can talk about living paycheck to paycheck.....when he bought himself an $80K fishing boat???? PLEASE!!!! Bring that $80K  into the inner city and make that a part of a salary tree and see how many people would be snatching at that cash.......

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@MarkVV @LilBarryBailout

It's a simple, easily verifiable fact that the same amount invested in the stock market over a working lifetime provides a much higher return than social security.

Isn't your party supposed to be fact-based?

Don't fear the maths.

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

" conservatives have long trailed the left at communicating a broad message."

Surely, it's more about actions than words.  

How will minorities come to a party that does not see the value in children who were brought here by their parents? (The so-called "DREAMERS")  Every Republican candidate so far (except perhaps Bush) has called for "no amnesty" and rejects calls for common sense solutions like long-term processes for legalization. 

When Republicans keep pushing for more and more abortion limitations, women feel excluded.  Common sense solutions are pushed aside for more rhetoric, with the losers being poor women. (and particularly poor women in States that have limited choices for women's needs.


It's refreshing to hear Republicans talk a good game (again), but until they put some action behind those words, it's message is failing. 

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@LogicalDude

Not all women are so pathetic that they can't get along without a Democrat giving them free stuff.

Why do leftists so doubt the ability of women to take care of themselves?

HDB0329
HDB0329

@LilBarryBailout @LogicalDude "Why do conservatives so doubt the ability of women to take care of themselves....make personal decisions about their reproductive system....and have an aura of personal responsibility about their lives?"


There...fixed it for you.......

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

@HDB0329 @LilBarryBailout @LogicalDude

Ah, and leftists think women are so pathetic that they require tax payer help to purchase their $1 condom.

Conservatives would be happy to make a deal wherein women get to make all their healthcare decisions (since they already do) and tax payers don't have to suffer the consequences.  Would you take that deal?

GMFA
GMFA

While I realize they said that Kyle, if you look at tax proposals by the likes of Paul Ryan they do not favor the middle class. They would rather scale back Social Security than risk the wrath of Grover by raises any kind of tax on the 1 %. Words have to lead to actions, and Demint chose to try to make Obama a one term President rather than do anything constructive for everyone.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

 It was in Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s observation that “America’s a miracle country, and we have to restore the sense that miracle can apply to you.”


Sadly he is correct. To move up the economic ladder in America often takes a "miracle" these days


In the old days with strong income redistribution measures like the inheritance tax each generation was forced to earn its own way. Today getting ahead is more about what your last name is or how much you inherit. ( Bush and Trump fit this bill nicely )



heezback
heezback

@Hedley_Lammar Cut out of the will; or nothing to inherit anyway?  What could possible be wrong or unappealing about loving and accomplished parents leaving wealth to their children?

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@heezback @Hedley_Lammar What could possible be wrong or unappealing about loving and accomplished parents leaving wealth to their children?


Nothing. For the majority of Americans. 


But when multi millionaires are allowed to leave fortunes to trust fund babies then we have a problem. 


America used to be about getting ahead because you were more talented etc. Not because you were a Trump and inherited hundreds of millions.