Send The Republicans To The Theatre
I grew up participating in speech meets, competitions where children memorized a poem — or, in my case attending a Christian school, it would sometimes be a Bible verse — and performed it for a panel of judges. We worked for weeks to make sure the delivery would have the necessary impact, that the hand motions were vivid but not too much or too jerky, that all the words were memorized correctly and that the speaker’s voice was audible, clear and confident. I remember my mother helped coach these speech meets, and I was always incredibly successful in them.
As a child, I also had the opportunity to perform on stage in a number of situations that even adults dream about doing. Loving musical theatre, I can still remember performing with Marvin Hamlisch when I was about 10 years old on the stage of the local theatre in Columbus, Ohio. I sang for thousands of people when I showed off my rendition of the national anthem at the AAA ballpark each year from ages 10 to 14. I learned how to communicate to an audience at a young age singing on stage at one of the first mega-churches in the country, and I also discovered how to carry that same theatrical presence to the recording studio when I had numerous opportunities to be in the booth for commercials, musicals and my own album. I’ve performed for five people and for 15,000 people — and how you present and communicate to each of those audiences is an art in and of itself.
I stuttered as a child, but nonetheless, I was always able to make it through speech meet without a single hesitation. I later learned that the same was true when I sang, and by college I had adapted my speaking voice to avoid the stuttering through what I call “sing speaking.” That’s a bit of a tangent, but it further draws the correlation between the arts and communication, even the most simple form of communication — speaking.
I was accepted into one of the top schools in the country for musical theatre before I decided I did not want to perform for my career. So now, I’m an elected official, political writer, pundit and talk show host. Why does any of this musical, performing, or theatrical background even matter?
It’s why the Republicans lost the election.
Of course, there are other related reasons — women, Latinos, turnout — but the main reason the Republicans lost the election is the establishment’s inability to communicate with an audience and properly message their platform. Growing up on the stage, anyone who has had the background I have understands that you must connect with your audience. You can see two performances — both exactly the same in context, but one without any stage production, lighting or music, and the other with beautiful scenery and costumes, visual effects and music that properly trigger your emotions, well-rehearsed lines delivered with ease, and a connection to the actors you feel are speaking directly to you — and the latter will be the one that touches your heart and leaves a lasting memory. The Republican party, on the other hand, either fails to put on the show altogether, or performs it in a theatre with no one in the seats, the lights out and too few microphones for the actors to be heard.
The Republican Party has a good message at its core. We believe in a person’s innate ability to become anything in this country, not with the help of the government but because the government stays out of the way. We believe in the sanctity of every human being. We believe in having the freedom to make our own decisions, while accepting responsibility for ourselves if those decisions do not turn out as we had hoped. We believe in helping other nations to overthrow their tyrannical leaders in the hopes of a new tomorrow where they can find their own version of freedom and liberty. We believe each person has the right to practice his or her own religion, and that the government does not have the right to tell religious institutions how to handle matters of faith. We believe in God, the importance of the family unit and having respect for all people.
One can argue that the party has lost its way, and it is true that it has been part of the problem in the past decade. However, what we believe is what every woman, Latino, African-American, Native American, caucasian, senior citizen or child wants — life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The problem is that the Republican party does not message its own beliefs properly, and then allows the communications department to be usurped by the lap dogs in the lame stream media who twist it into being a party that is against women, hates immigrants and Latinos, is racists against African-Americans, likes seeing Native Americans in poverty, and only approves of retirement-aged white men advancing in the world.
The Republican Party establishment has allowed the party’s communications efforts to be hijacked because the proper messaging was not there in the first place. Until the Republican Party understands that political messaging is the same as the performing arts — you have to reach out to your audience, engage them, touch them and draw them in — we might as well just fire the entire communications department from the RNC to every state Republican Party headquarters. All the press releases, social media, videos, speeches and other routine communications platforms are meaningless unless the end result is a message that encourages the American people and drives them to vote for the Republican Party.
The Republican communication team needs to junk the current messaging, and spend a night at the theatre (figuratively speaking) — study it, understand it, maybe even participate in an improv class — then apply the lessons learned. The Democrats have mastered this, and until the Republicans do, our message will be doomed to being communicated by the lame stream media and the liberals (who are all one in the same).
We must recapture our own communications platform in an effective way, or have our message communicated by those who seek to destroy it. The Republican Party has 2013 to regroup before the next races in 2014, and I suggest they spend the year at the theatre.by