For more than 20 years, Republican candidates have tacitly accepted the biases of the media and popular culture. They’ve softened their rhetoric on education, social issues, “green energy”, the social welfare state and foreign policy, becoming politically-correct caricatures of conservatism. The tone has been almost apologetic.
Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum* have put forward a blueprint for Republicans: When facing down the media, the establishment and the left, do not play on their turf, using their language, accepting their biases within their rigged system.
Gingrich has been blunt, direct and unapologetic. When challenged, he has punched back. Santorum has engaged voters with an encyclopedic knowledge of policy and political theory.
Political consultants would tell Gingrich to be “nicer” and “softer.” They’d tell Santorum that he shouldn’t “talk over the voters heads.” They’d want both to adopt fuzzy, dumbed-down, focus-grouped sound bites.
The lesson for Republican candidates: Talk directly to the voters, unequivocally and forcefully and with a fearless conviction that conservative philosophy is right and good and effective and honorable.
No more apologies.
*I have spent the past few weeks as an consultant to the Santorum campaign.