By now, you’ve probably heard the uproar over Indiana senate candidate Richard Mourdock’s contention that pregnancies resulting from rape are ‘‘something God intended.’’
Even if they disagree with Mourdock’s brand of predestination theology (which implies God is the author of such evil acts), most pro-lifers probably understand his general point — that all life is precious — and that God can turn around even the worst of situations.
Unfortunately, to most people, his words merely reinforced a national narrative that began with another senate candidate, Missouri’s Todd Akin, that Republicans are out of touch with women — and are unsympathetic to rape victims.
So why did this happen? My guess is that Mourdock and Akin are both well-meaning. Yet, they lack a certain sophistication. They lack an awareness that some of the things they say simply won’t play well with the general public.
It’s unclear why this is the case. Is it a coincidence that both currently live in the middle of the country? To be sure, both are well-educated and experienced politicians.
I suppose the most obvious culprits would be epistemic closure or laziness or stubbornness — or all three.
Some conservatives might even view their refusal to bow to the gods of political correctness as refreshing. I don’t. It’s hard to argue that these men are currently doing much to help the cause of the unborn. In fact, they are more likely doing harm.
Regardless, it’s time to accept the fact that this isn’t the “old days.” Effective 21st century leaders simply must be able to communicate their ideas persuasively.
Conservatives shouldn’t sell out their values, but they should be able to sell them. To put it in terms they would surely understand, Mourdock and Akin may be “harmless as doves” but they must also be “wise as serpents.”
This is not to say conservatives should abandon these men with less than two weeks to go before Election Day. But it is to say that it is incumbent upon those seeking higher office to study how to effectively communicate their ideas. When they fail to do so, they do harm to the cause they ostensibly care so much about.
The best pro-life speech I’ve ever heard was delivered by Marco Rubio, a cosmopolitan conservative.
Rubio, I would argue, has been a more effective spokesman for the cause of life, while simultaneously being much less controversial than Mourdock or Akin.
When it comes to candidate recruitment and selection, the model going forward must include the ability to articulate conservative views — not just passionately adhere to them.