Obama won re-election, but would anyone really describe the 2012 Obama campaign as a clinic in exegetical politics? Did Obama lay out a compelling case for his principles? Far from it. In fact, his clearest ideological statement was “You didn’t build that.” His supporters spent weeks insisting he didn’t say that.
What Obama did do successfully was vilify his opponent (“not one of us“) and make narrow, often fear-based appeals to particular interest groups. His campaign also demonstrated a mastery of technology for identifying voters and coaxing them to the polls.
So maybe conservatives should snap out of it. If the left emerged triumphant from the slough of despond in barely a year, there’s no reason the right can’t do it too. But it’s no clearer now than it was then that the answer lies in better “messaging.” (Incidentally, maybe if you want to message good, you shouldn’t use nouns as verbs.) And talking about the need for better messaging isn’t going to win any elections. To be sure, neither is writing about talking about messaging. But we promise never to run for anything.