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It’s Not Just the Economy, Stupid

Posted on Thursday, May 12, 2022
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by Seamus Brennan
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AMAC Exclusive – By Seamus Brennan

Economy
Glenn Youngkin campaigning for Governor of Virginia in 2021.

In the months leading up to the 1992 presidential election, Democratic political strategist James Carville coined a famous and widely repeated slogan urging then-candidate Bill Clinton’s campaign staff to center their messaging around one issue, and one issue only: the economy. “It’s the economy, stupid,” Carville wrote on a whiteboard in the Clinton campaign headquarters. In nearly every election cycle since, politicians and consultants on both sides of the aisle have continued to invoke Carville’s battle cry. And as the GOP gears up for the 2022 midterm elections, several Republicans are once again embracing Carville’s words—but in 2022, the old political nostrum may not hold true.

Earlier this month, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan—a self-branded moderate Republican and potential 2024 presidential candidate—claimed Republicans should be “focused more on economic issues than fighting every social issue that’s out there.” The GOP, he continued, “ought to be focused on inflation and the economy.” Any focus on other issues, he went on, simply isn’t “smart politics.” Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, another potential contender for the Republican nomination in 2024, echoed Hogan’s sentiment: “I don’t like passing bills in a cultural war to fire up our base. That to me is not the way I conduct business,” he said in a recent speech in New Hampshire.

But 2022 is not 1992. Given Democrats’ all-out assault on traditional values and the American way of life, a single-minded focus on the economy—especially at the expense of major social and cultural issues at top of mind for many Americans—isn’t the winning strategy some Republicans might believe.

Economic issues will always be important to voters—especially in a period of economic turmoil such as this one. But recent state-level elections—most notably in Virginia and Ohio—demonstrate that voters are eager for a Republican Party that actively fights back against the left on key cultural issues.

For much of the last year, no cultural issues have dominated the political airwaves more than the rise of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and gender ideology in K-12 education. Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin’s victory last November in a state that Biden won by 10 points—which came in large part as a result of parents’ growing concerns over CRT and Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s insistence that parents should have no say in their children’s education—should serve as a clear sign for conservative candidates everywhere not to hide from the culture wars, but rather to embrace them.

J.D. Vance’s victory in the Ohio Republican Senate primary earlier this month further reinforces this strategy. Vance, who based much of his campaign on resisting the left’s “culture war against traditional values” and opposing CRT and gender ideology, won last week’s primary by a margin far wider than expected. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has signed a handful of bills taking aim at left-wing ideologies in the classroom and the corporate world has also enjoyed a surge in popularity and high approval ratings among Republican voters.

But no one deserves more credit for the GOP’s transformation into a party that fights confidently on cultural issues than former President Donald Trump. In the words of The American Mind’s Editorial Board, Trump had the courage to identify problems and crises afflicting everyday Americans at a time “when few others would.” But, they continued, discussion of these problems hasn’t gone away since Trump’s departure from office—and for good reason: “They have gotten worse, because the Old Guard doesn’t have solutions to them.” Trump’s message—the same message that led Glenn Youngkin, J.D. Vance, and others like them to victory—“is the way forward for this country,” and it is “the path the GOP will chart if it wants to win.”

Though some Republican elites remain insistent that the GOP should steer clear of hot-button social disputes and stick only to issues like tax cuts, it’s clear that rank-and-file Republican voters feel otherwise, and will reward candidates who fight unapologetically for conservative values. Moreover, the success of these candidates in general elections proves that cultural issues are, in fact, winning issues for Republicans.

Of course, the GOP’s heightened focus on cultural and social issues should not detract from economic and fiscal concerns entirely. America’s 40-year-high inflation, record-high gas prices, and the looming threat of economic recession under the Biden administration are serious concerns affecting all Americans, and it remains essential that conservatives put forward a vision to improve the nation’s deteriorating economic conditions. But focusing solely on economic concerns while CRT, gender ideology, and other corrosive forces run rampant and pervade nearly every corner of American life would be a grave political mistake—and would cost Republicans significantly at the ballot box.

Despite the notoriety and political success of James Carville’s campaign exhortation from three decades ago, times have changed. Today, voters want more than a singular focus on the economy—and Republicans would be stupid to think otherwise.

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Brenda
Brenda
2 years ago

Is there someone who believes that “social issues” are unrelated to the economy? To me that seems such a short-sighted view of the troubles of our country.

Philip Hammersley
Philip Hammersley
2 years ago

Hutchinson is a RINO. Hope Sarah Sanders wins and improves Arkansas greatly. Patriotic and moral people sat back and did nothing for years while trash like Madalyn O’Hare and others stripped our country of its standards. Now we have the ACLJ, Liberty Council, and others who FIGHT the leftist wreckers in court!

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
2 years ago

Inflation is Real & daily & cost Dems in Nov

PaulE
PaulE
2 years ago

The internal fight within the Republican Party between those that actually want to try and save this country from the socialist oblivion we’re rapidly racing towards under Democrat (Socialist) control and the so-called Republican “moderates” (really just Democrats with an (R) after their name, like Hogan and many others within the Republican Party), that are perfectly content to “talk a good game, but fundamentally do NOTHING to alter our trajectory” is coming to a head in this country.

If you like rising inflation on everything, open borders, Republicans routinely “walking across the aisle” to help Democrats pass their massive spending and policy bills that are strangling our country in the crib, being considered a joke on the international stage by friends and foes alike by having a leader who tries to shake hands with the air, and being fed a non-stop load of BS from the WH podium on a daily basis, then by all means listen to the likes of Hogan, McConnell, McCarthy and the rest of the RINOs out there.

If you don’t like the current man-made circumstances the Democrats have delivered, then you know who you have to vote for. Of course, that is assuming the elections will be relatively fraud free. Which given the lack of response from a number of state legislatures on the manner should tell you where the RINO wing of the Party lines up. So with talk coming out of Washington circles that “a new variant of Covid will be making its debut this fall”, I think most of us are smart enough to know what that signals. Yes, the country needs to pull back from the socialist path it is on. How we accomplish that is a larger question. Listening to the like of Governor Hogan isn’t an intelligent option. Best of luck to you all out there.

Margaret Nartz
Margaret Nartz
2 years ago

Well written and hits the nail on the head. I hope Republican candidates take notice

Leslie
Leslie
2 years ago

I certainly agree with this article, however, what I want to hear even more is the truth that Democrats want Socialism, with a clear definition what that means. Too many people don’t understand this and are lulled into believing that making sure everyone has monetary equality is a good ambition. Basically, what always happens is Capitalism is destroyed and all are made equally poor.

Charles
Charles
2 years ago

Republicans need to make the public aware of the “horrors “ of the progressive agenda that has been unleashed on the American public when the democrats have had their way on all issues. In order to prevent the progressives from EVER getting in absolute control again.

Becky
Becky
2 years ago

Today we want our blessed American culture back. Period.
And all commies and fascists run out of America.

Ed Black
Ed Black
2 years ago

Republicans should be able to speak on multiple issues!!
Yes, the economy is a good priority, but Republicans continually loose on the cultural wars because of their messaging – not policy!
Perfect example, Conservatives want strong secure borders and stop the flow of Illegal Aliens.
THAT DOES NOT MAKE REPUBLICANS ANTI-IMMIGRANT!
The definition of an Immigrant is an alien who has come in through the front door and has been granted LEGAL permanent residency to live and work in the US! We are the great melting pot. We let over a million Immigrants into the country legally every year!
Welcome!
The issue is with those who violated our laws and are here ILLEGALY! Yes, most are good and just want a better life, but use some facts here. There are over 800 millions people in the world that live in “extreme poverty” and would love to just enter the country. Does anybody think our country of 330 million can take in 800 million people? How? BTW – the US already has 20 million who are here illegally and 40 Americans who live in poverty!
This is a cultural issue we loose on. It is just a matter of messaging!

Ed G
Ed G
2 years ago

When a CNN reporter describes the debate over free speech as what I’ve captured below, it’s fair to say that cultural issues have reached a critical stage where they can no longer be de-prioritized.
From CNN: Republicans treat the leak of a draft opinion from the Supreme Court as a major breach. Democrats abhor the limiting of what teachers can discuss with elementary school kids in Florida.

bigjohnny833
bigjohnny833
2 years ago

Those two governors are the definition of RINO. Stand up and be counted. And if you just came to the Conservative camp after laying with Democrat dogs, forget about our vote!

Dave S
Dave S
2 years ago

Cultural issues are deeply entwined with the economy. For example, the progressive push for more play and less work. This is an attempt to capture as many people as possible in dependency on government handouts, especially the young. That is a cultural problem as well as an economic problem. The inner city violence we are seeing is being ginned up by a cultural issue; the lies about systemic racism. This causes more economic pain on those living there as more and more companies close their stores and leave. The “woke” corporate boardrooms are causing economic pain to their shareholders with their stupid embrace of progressivism. I cite Disney and Netflix as two corporate titans that have taken a hit to their stock prices because of cultural decisions of their leadership. I believe that we must fight the cultural to win the economic. The attack on God, on our traditional values and our freedoms all have a direct bearing on our economic well-being.

Andras Boros-Kazai
Andras Boros-Kazai
2 years ago

Definitely not just the economy. Name one, just one Harris-Biden accomplishment that actually helped US citizens.

Nessie509
Nessie509
2 years ago

A majority of Americans get gas once a week. They drive away infuriated.
Many Democrats are going to vote with Republicans to stop the ultra-Progressives in the White House and Congress

kmp
kmp
2 years ago

I think this article pretty much nails it. This is the right place for it also. The population is aging and those of us who were pretty liberal/libertarian on many social issues are seeing that the slippery slope really does exist and we are on it.

If COVID did one good thing, it exposed some of what is going on in the public school system. Using just this one example, I am pretty sure that most parents would teach their kids not to persecute others who are different. This is not the same as having teachers teaching young children that they can choose their gender, or teaching them about “self-pleasure”, and then trying to help kids hide this teaching from parents.

There are plenty of other examples of the left taking a torch to societal norms. In our gut, we understand that while society can change its norms over time, burning it all down will destroy any stability in a society and lead to its destruction.
Which…come to think of it…is probably the goal for many.

Dan Barber
Dan Barber
2 years ago

Make America first by shutting down and ignoring the delusional Democrat noise and repairing the economy. This can only be done by putting a Chief Executive Officer back in the White House whose loyalty is with the American people, and evicting do nothing political hacks.

Jim Carlin
Jim Carlin
2 years ago

I spent decades in marketing and I can tell you that defining all the issues customers/voters care about and then having that list available so that each local and regional election can use from that toolkit what best suits that locale works best. No two voters think alike and despite the current trend of viewing people in bulk demographic terms the close you get to the voter the less that demographic definition holds true.

Build all the talking points, inflation, arrogant school boards, crime, despotic District Attorneys, gasoline prices, housing prices . . . and build a tool kit for each so local and regional elections will be able to talk in one voice to the concerns of that school district, that state legislature, mayor, town council . . .

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, not everybody likes eggs.

Duties
Duties
2 years ago

One way to encompass the economy and social issues is to ask a variation of Ronald Reagan’s question: are you better off than four years ago? To fit in with today’s more in-your-face style of politics, maybe something like: what part of the mess Democrats have made of your life are you happy with?

Most people I’ve asked can name one Trump policy they opposed. Likewise,I’m can’t imagine any thinking person could name one Biden/Democrat policy they’re happy with.

Easyover
Easyover
2 years ago

The Democrats are losers in most, if not all important election-relevant issues. From the massive wave of illegal immigration to the cost of gasoline at the pumps to the handling of the COVID crisis to the rise in crime, to the rising cost of healthcare, to the increasing rates of homelessness, to the increasing scarcity of housing–the Democrats are viewed as the party causing the problems.

But ultimately, the economy is the number one concern for most families, and it was the number one issue in the 2020 elections: pewresearch.org/politics/2020/08/13/important-issues-in-the-2020-election/

I agree with Duties, who advocates Ronald Reagan’s slogan: are you better off than you were four years ago?: But in this case–because of Biden’s many missteps, both figurative and literal–Reagan’s slogan needs to be adjusted: Are you better off than you were just two years ago?

Many people are still struggling in the aftermath of the Plandemic. And it is looking more and more like the Democrats had a hand in enabling that too.

Vince Foster
Vince Foster
2 years ago

The thing is that he Democrat cultural positions are so unpopular that you would be stupid not to take advantage of them. Late term abortion is highly unpopular and only affects a tiny minority of people. Transgender sex education for children is highly unpopular and only a tiny minority of people are transgender. Everyone else thinks it weird and not appropriate for children.

David Lilly
David Lilly
2 years ago

1) Larry Hogan is a RINO’s RINO. His act plays in liberal Maryland because he is more democrat than republican.
2) Hutchinson and Hogan have as much chance at the republican nomination as I do, which is to say none. They are relics of the past and former staunch republicans turned Independent like myself are never going back to them.
Don’t believe me ? I am supporting Nan Whaley for Governor in Ohio because Mike Dewine is of the same ilk and I am punishing the GOP for keeping guys like Dewine around and in office.
3) You HAVE to fight these culture wars in politics, especially if you are on the right. If you do not, as Hogan seems to desire, you will do nothing but lose ground to the left because the left are maniacal in their desire to ruin everything they can get in control of.
As I said above, the days of true Conservatives like myself supporting Hogan, Hutchinson, Dewine, Kasich, Romney, McCain and the Bush family simply because they are not democrats is over.
Stand up to the left and we will come out for you. Lay down for them and you will be laying down by yourself and soon to be run over.

ossm possm
ossm possm
2 years ago

they came after our kids. That’s the end.

sojohowitz
sojohowitz
2 years ago

Well they’re stupid so that’s what I expect them to do, i.e., not fight.

Johnathan Galt
Johnathan Galt
2 years ago

The position of Democrats can now be better described as “anti-culture,” an attempt to bring all of society down to the lowest possible level.

john Kriegsmann
john Kriegsmann
2 years ago

Great article. Given the crime in our streets, the massive amount o illegal immigration and the rot in our public school systems the cultural issues all help the GOP.You can bet the Democrats will play the one cultural issue that they think helps them- Abortion.

MICHAEL AL FLAIR
MICHAEL AL FLAIR
2 years ago

This time, it is a culture war, and it has to be. The woke democratic elite, along with their media and technology pals, let alone the doj,cia, fbi (aka deep state) are trying to control USA Society and ‘We the People’ and have created 2 systems of justice, this needs to end, even more than the economic needs.

Cornfed
Cornfed
2 years ago

Granted, the economy — as awful as it is — is more than enough for the GOP to campaign on this year. However, the GOP swept the recent elections in VA, and it sure wasn’t about the economy in that case. So anyone who thinks ignoring CRT and other social issues is going to help a GOP candidate nees their head examined.

Dennis O'Neill
Dennis O'Neill
2 years ago

The author wrote:
… voters are eager for a Republican Party that actively fights back against the left on key cultural issues. …

I nearly agree with this. I think voters are eager for a non-hysterical, non-radical political party that has the best interests of the country at heart and wants to stay out of things that aren’t its business. Neither of our two political factions fill that bill, and their dominance distorts our politics into madness.

Peter Mayo
Peter Mayo
2 years ago

Gasoline is climbing toward 5 bucks, heating oil is over 6 bucks. Come fall, no one will care about CRT or abortion except the far-left and far-right. It remains the economy, stupid!

Kunkleberry99
Kunkleberry99
2 years ago

Somewhat tangentially an economic issue is that Biden is trying to hang the entire increase in gasoline prices on Putin’s actions in Europe. Gasoline prices were rising strongly before that war ever became a reality. Biden treats the American public as though they were dolts and morons.

Furthermore, if you consider the panic-mongering campaign run by the Democrats, people are just sick of it. – Think the Trump-Russia collusion hoax, where all fingers point to HRC and her minions. Think of the multiple attempts to impeach president Trump. Think of the pandemic which crashed the economy.

The American public is sick to death of Biden, the ruinously gratuitous inflation, and his capture by elements of the extreme left. In 2024, the American electorate needs to vote that wizened zombie out of the White House.

MBlanc46
MBlanc46
2 years ago

The Repubs will very likely try to betray the American people by throwing them a tax cut (with no corresponding spending cuts) instead of helping them take their country back. Too little, too late.

Ralph T Forr
Ralph T Forr
2 years ago

For those of us who are truly conservative economically and socially, the social issues have a priority as they indicate which direction our country is heading in. Marx and his followers want to destroy the family, the church and capitalism. So far they have been somewhat successful with “No Fault” divorce, gay marriage, the push for transgenderism and abortion on demand. Obama care and the forgiveness of student debt are on the agenda to make us totally dependent on “Big Government”. We need to fight for the family, the right to life, and to insure that are freedoms of speech, religion and to bear arms are not interfered with; otherwise as a nation we are done.

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