Speaking at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, former Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin outlined what he believes to be the exact reason that Republicans “did not earn a red way nationally.”
“When your high paid political consultant tells you not to go to a heavily Democratic area, that’s exactly where we need to show up and earn the support of these Democrats. We cannot relinquish the cities, we cannot relinquish the suburbs,” he said.
“We cannot relinquish anything to the Democrats and if we’re on offense confidently, that will be the path for us to earn a red wave. Because in 2022, we did not earn a red wave nationally. In ‘24, we must [earn a red wave] to save America,” he added.
Republicans didn’t earn a red wave nationally in ‘22, and we need to understand why to best prepare for ‘24.
Red waves won’t show up simply by messaging what you are against (“Joe Biden bad”, “Democratic Party bad”) but instead by exceptionally communicating what you stand FOR. pic.twitter.com/EjwmX8IcFS
— Lee Zeldin (@leezeldin) March 4, 2023
Zeldin also said that GOP candidates need to better engage with minorities by offering proposals that tackle key issues such as public safety and education.
“These Democrats are unhappy with the Democratic policies and the Democratic Party as a whole, but they aren’t going to just swing to the Republicans on their own. It’s a bad assumption that we are making. Instead, what we need to do is to show up over and over and over again,” he explained.
In other words, Republicans need to perform better outreach, particularly to minorities. Black conservative radio show host Sonnie Johnson would likely staunchly agree with Zeldin’s advice. During a Fox News appearance two years ago, she said something similar.
“I brought this message [the need for genuine outreach] seven years ago to Republicans, to conservatives. We can talk about this, we can go out there, we can win people, we can win hearts and minds. I was told to sit down, to shut up,” Johnson claimed.
“I was told that calling black people slaves on a plantation was more beneficial than actually offering them policy that fixes the issues that plague them under these Democratic-controlled cities. I was told it was not an important conversation. I was told that our voice had no weight and constantly, over and over again, these messengers who choose to berate and belittle black Americans were constantly put to the forefront,” she added.
She referenced the way conservatives often say that black liberals are stuck on the liberal plantation. While the analogy may fit, it’s not exactly popular.
Sonnie Johnson to GOP: Stop ‘talking down to black America’, focus on policies to help ‘fix the issues’ https://t.co/CLJ2254MC2 pic.twitter.com/ISY6CwfuGJ
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) April 18, 2021
“So I am very sick of hearing ‘where are the people that want to have these conversations about black on black crime,’ ‘where are the people that want to talk about the things that are going on?’ We are right here!” Johnson continued.
“We have been bringing these conversations to the right for years. You never want to have these conversations with us until this moment arises. So please, they can save the sanctimonious stuff, and let’s actually get the policy that can fix the issues in these areas,” she concluded.
That said, one thing that might help Republicans with better outreach is ballot harvesting. Granted, Republicans are no fan of ballot harvesting.
“States shouldn’t be passing laws to allow ballot harvesting or no-excuse absentee balloting,” Zeldin himself told Time magazine back in December.
But since left-wing states are legalizing ballot harvesting, Republicans might as well play along, he continued.
“But wherever states decide to do it anyways, Republicans need to do it better than Democrats and make those Democrats deeply regret legalizing those methods in the first place,” he said.
Wherever they propose ballot harvesting, totally oppose it.
Wherever they pass ballot harvesting, do it so much better than them that they deeply regret ever passing it in the first place.
— Lee Zeldin (@leezeldin) December 1, 2022
Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel is in agreement.
“Our voters need to vote early. There were many in 2020 saying, don’t vote by mail, don’t vote early, and we have to stop that, and understand that if Democrats are getting ballots in for a month, we can’t expect to get it all done in one day,” she reportedly told Fox News in December.
So are several Fox News hosts.
“After the Georgia runoff elections showed Republican Herschel Walker likely to lose, Fox News host Sean Hannity questioned the ‘reluctance some Republicans in many states have about voting early and voting by mail,’ and said it was time the party changed its ways,” according to Politico.
“Another Fox host, Laura Ingraham, grew visibly agitated as she discussed the issue with former counselor to Trump Kellyanne Conway, who said Republicans need to bank ballots early,” Politico reported in December.
“How come we didn’t? We didn’t do it in 2020, because people said, ‘Don’t vote early, because that’s corrupt.’ A lot of people did [say that], at the very top of the Republican Party,” Ingraham said.
A lot of people, including former President Donald Trump …
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