Communing With Ronald Reagan’s Ghost at CPAC 2016
Lawrence Jones: I became a conservative, and why don’t we talk about hip-hop because it mentions money?
Zuri Davis: Here is my biography, and if you talk to people like me, they will listen.
Anthony Rodriguez: We don’t all support Bernie Sanders, because we are different.
Iris Somberg: This is a direct quote: “I’m Iris Somberg, and I work at a boutique PR firm in Georgetown.”
Kirk Higgins: (This guy wore a button-down and had a thick but trimmed beard, which made him look like playoff Kyle Orton. Then he stated that he — millennial — rarely uses the Internet and has never sent a tweet, and suddenly he seemed a lot more like Al from Home Improvement or one of those soft-rock 1970s ballad-mongers who always sang ambiguously enough about passion that it could have described a lover or Jesus Christ.)
Following the biographies, one millennial ran down some key strategies for addressing millennials. For instance, “We’re emotional!” This puts them in rarified company with everyone in the United Federation of Planets who isn’t a Vulcan, V’Ger or Mr. Data.
Next, we were on to things to focus on during millennial outreach efforts, including: be authentic, be forward-looking, have a vision of positive goals rather than focusing on negatives, recognize prospective voters’ individual interests, then stress freedom and opportunity. In short, talk to them like every other prospective voter in the same way as every campaign in modern history.
Things not addressed: college debt, how repealing Obamacare would make almost all millennials uninsured, the dearth of quality blue-collar jobs for millennials who forego college and potential debt, and the paucity of jobs for everyone else. Oh well. At least in this respect millennials are being underserved on the issues as much as anyone else.
The day’s most informative seminar, by far, was Mike Madrid’s “Talking to Minority Voters: Making the Case for Conservatives Nationally.” Madrid is a messaging expert in California, specifically on Latino issues, and you could see the horrible bind he was in.
Madrid outlined a ton of great news for conservatives: that there’s a new Latino voter every 30 seconds in the United States — from birth, he emphasized, rather than immigration — but that Latino immigrants tend to have high military participation rates, come from very religious countries and that Latinos overall have the highest entrepreneurial rate in the country. Better still, while Latino registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans 4:1, Latino Republicans are far more reliable voters.
“I’m not saying there aren’t undocumented people on welfare,” he said. Then he added, “People do not put themselves and their families through all that to go on welfare. They do. not. come. to. this. country. to. get. on. welfare.”
He’s right, and to hear him tell it, the Republican Party could sit back, stamp their boilerplate ideas and watch Latinos mint election win after election win.
The second part of his seminar’s title, “Making the Case for Conservatives Nationally,” was where Madrid’s presentation hit a snag. He welcomed questions, and when people started asking them, the rosy picture he painted began to wilt away and leave a coiled field of thorns in its place, like concertina wire.
“I was upset to see that the media didn’t pick up on the fact that Ted Cruz was the first Latino to win a primary in this country. I think we should be pointing that out,” a member of the audience said.
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