I Get It, but Tell Me Who You're For
The “anybody but Trump” efforts are noble and worthy. There is no doubt that Donald Trump’s MO, temperament, judgement and 40 years of support for liberal policies and politicians would make him incredibly dangerous as POTUS.
But in spending tens of millions of dollars in advertising in the Super Tuesday II states, the Super Pacs failed to deliver the knock-out punch to Trump that conservatives so desperately need.
So what was missing?
It ain’t enough to tell people who you are against, you gotta tell them who you are for.
In the media-frenzied-ratings-love-fest that feeds Donald Trump to voters 24/7, conservatives are clearly looking for an alternative to support. Rubio and Kasich’s failures to bow out of the race before last Tuesday added further confusion for good folks who want to know who to believe in. The ads that filled the airwaves served to further (and rightly) disgust conservatives as they learned more about the real Donald Trump, but the alternative remained unclear. The ads failed for one key reason: they did not clearly tell conservative viewers who they should support.
If the same millions had been spent to expose Trump AND extol Ted Cruz, conservatives would have understood that Ted Cruz is the leader they have been looking for. And those votes would have made all the difference in states like Missouri, Illinois and North Carolina.
Even in Florida where the Ted Cruz efforts were always an uphill battle, I found myself nearly screaming at the TV as ad after ad bashed Trump and Rubio, but said nothing, nada, zippo in support of Ted Cruz. Many conservative Floridians watching television who don’t eat, drink and sleep politics were left with the impression that the crush Trump ads were actually paid for by their own senator, simply because Ted Cruz’ name was nowhere to be found. So the good folks who know that Trump is a fake, but who already felt betrayed by Rubio, just stayed home on Election Day not ever understanding they had a clear conservative to support. While one can argue that Ted Cruz would have, at best, still come in second place in Florida, that would not have been the case in the three other states on Tuesday night. Ted Cruz would have won.
Yes, Rubio and Kasich’s failure to exit the race before Tuesday split the anti-Trump vote. But that awful reality only underscores why pro-Ted Cruz ads were needed.
The strategy going forward is more evident than ever: if conservatives want to defeat Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, they must coalesce behind Ted Cruz. And in order for that to happen, they first need to understand why they should coalesce behind Cruz. News coverage will not clarify that for voters. Fox News deliberately intends not to clarify that for voters. The establishment media will continue to bury that for voters. And you will rarely hear from any TV news host or pundit the reality that it is mathematically impossible for Kasich to win the nomination. The hard cold math that even a fifth-grader could do reveals that Kaisich would have to get over 100% of the remaining delegates to secure the GOP nomination. Viewers will not hear that a vote for Kasich now equals a vote for Trump. And they will never hear that national polls show Trump losing miserably to Hillary Clinton in a head-to-head battle, so that same vote for Kasich is also a vote for Hillary.
But where earned-media will continue to fail conservative voters, paid media can get the message through loud and clear. It’s time for the pro-Ted Cruz ads to roll out forcefully in the key states where the Senator can win.
Yes, the social media and email efforts must continue (as well as columns by Cruz volunteers and supporters like me). But the vast majority of voters will never be on the emails lists; will never be Facebook fans of candidates; will never tweet or even twerp a note about a presidential race; and will never read one of my columns. Most Americans — even conservatives — just aren’t that “in” to politics, so we must communicate directly, effectively and unfiltered with them via the media they consume if conservatives are ever going to win. Millions upon millions of decent Americans are watching their local television stations every night enjoying entertainment shows and their local news. If the message about Ted Cruz is not clear and direct and visionary in this medium we will not secure their votes.
A key area in which conservatives have failed miserably over the years is articulating our beautiful vision for both individuals and our nation — to clearly and joyfully proclaim what we are for. The result of our failure is an electorate and younger generation that only sees us as stogey-old-prudish people who are against just about everything. And that’s being generous.
I’ve argued for years that if we are ever going to win over decent Americans to our cause of freedom and the restoration of timeless values that will enrich their lives, it will require us to boldly champion the solutions and the leaders that can restore us, our families, and our nation. I pray that those with the funds to be forces for good through paid advertising will move quickly to do introduce conservative voters to Ted Cruz, the candidate we have all been waiting for.