Yes they can win by saying “no”

We’ve heard plenty lately from Republicans who insist that the GOP needs to do more than just say “no” to Obamacare, and more than just say “no” in general, if it hopes to rebound. This sentiment is expressed primarily those who wish to inject their substantive ideas (many of which have merit) into the electoral process.

I’m not saying that these folks are wrong, though. In fact, I believe that in the next presidential race, the Republican candidate will need effectively to articulate ideas that extend well beyond negation.

But what about the 2014 election? The GOP did tremendously well in 2010 as the party of “no.” Why can’t that performance be repeated this year? I say it can be.

One shouldn’t draw definitive conclusions from one congressional race, but David Jolly’s victory in FLA-13 suggests that saying “no,” with a particular emphasis on Obamacare, will work pretty well as a Republican mantra this year in swing districts and states.

I happened to see Jolly’s appearance on Megyn Kelly’s show last night. His take on the race was revealing.

Jolly declined to attribute his victory primarily to his opposition to Obamacare. Instead, he attributed it to the philosophy underlying his opposition to Obamacare — the desire for limited government. As he put it, the voters in FLA-13 rejected “a view of government that is of great concern to people around the country,” a view that seeks to inject “more government into our lives and businesses.”

By taking this line, which he used three times in approximately three minutes, Jolly is able to present himself as more than just a “one-note” candidate. But his range of notes doesn’t consist (from what I can tell) of a series of programs to reform this or that societal ill. Instead, it consists of serial opposition to government intrusion into our lives. In other words, serial “no.”

During his debates with Sink, Jolly opposed raising the minimum wage ( saying that the marketplace should determine wages), opposed a “significant shift” in federal policy as it may relate to climate, and opposed a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. As to taxes, he favored a “fairer, flatter and simpler” tax code.

It’s important to note that Jolly delivered this message in a “swing” district, one that was represented for decades by a moderate Republican and that President Obama carried twice. If Jolly’s message, as he presented it to Kelly last night, can succeed in FLA-13 against a candidate who vastly outspent him, I don’t see why it can’t carry the GOP to major success later this year.


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