How to Speak Republican: It’s About Results, Not Rights

by Daniel Honan

“These darn Republicans! These darn conservatives!” is a common refrain Richard Tafel hears from people involved in social change movements that have failed.

People in that position need to look inward, not outward, Tafel says. You lost your fight because you failed to appeal to the conservative mindset, which is based on results, whereas the liberal mindset is persuaded by appeals about rights.

Tafel says a perfect example of this was President Obama’s appeal for universal health care. “He kept saying ‘everybody in this country deserves the right of health care,’ and progressives applauded,” Tafel notes. “And I could just feel the conservatives just digging in deeper, deeper, deeper for fear of what was being taken away from them.”

Tafel, the founder of The Public Squared, a public policy training program for nonprofits and social entrepreneurs, says a conservative way of expressing the same goal would have been to say this:

Folks, we have universal healthcare in the United States. It’s called the emergency room and we pay for it. And we cover people’s healthcare right now who don’t pay into any insurance scheme and you’re carrying them. If you’re paying taxes right now you’re covering them. Wouldn’t it make sense for us as a nation to just ask those folks to register and get into an insurance program so we can cut their cost, we can be more proactive with their healthcare, and we can avoid the vast growth of healthcare costs?

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About Radnor Reports

Ken Feltman is past-president of the International Association of Political Consultants and the American League of Lobbyists. He is retired chairman of Radnor Inc., an international political consulting and government relations firm in Washington, D.C. Know as a coalition builder, he has participated in election campaigns and legislative efforts in the United States and several other countries.
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