When George W. Bush declared that he was a Compassionate Conservative during his 2000 presidential campaign, conservatives around the country mocked the use of the word “compassionate.” They protested that the use of such word implied that conservatism wasn’t naturally compassionate. In fact, I also was complacent. But I now admit that such complacency was dead wrong.
The Republican Party’s problem is not demographics, outdated principles or America’s love of liberalism; the problem is that too many Americans don’t trust Republicans.
Too many Americans don’t believe that Republicans actually care about their well-being. And, while many of us hardcore conservatives feel uncomfortable talking about this touchy feely stuff, we must if we want to win back America’s trust.
I would go as far to say that even if the people know that Republican policies are better than Democrat policies, people won’t vote Republican if they don’t think the Republicans care about them.
The Republicans must correct this perception problem.
This is not an easy problem to fix, especially considering Republicans believe in limited government. But we must demonstrate our trustworthiness and compassion consistently and repeatedly. We have to show Americans that we are the party that cares in addition to being the party with the correct ideas.
So how can we fix this problem?
Republicans must focus on the protection of the American family. Family is the heart and soul of America, and family is the heart and soul of conservatism. If we want a limited government, we need healthy families. Healthy families teach children the values necessary for a healthy democracy—honesty, industriousness, civility, compassion, justice and personal-responsibility. Healthy families reduce the need for criminal law enforcement. Healthy families bring people out of poverty.
There is nothing more conservative than protecting the American family.
But we can’t just talk about the value of families. We need a pro-family legislative agenda. Unless we have an agenda that proactively help families, we will lose votes.
The family must become our targeted constituency. When we win the trust of the American family, we will win election after election.