Opinion

To Win, Republicans Must Use Story Not Stats

Joy Overbeck Journalist, Author

Barack Obama and the Democrats appeal to voters by peddling emotion and ignoring reason while Republicans believe that calm, rational argument and statistics will win the day. Wrong.

The Democrats know stories are their most powerful weapon in connecting emotionally with voters. That’s why Obama surrounds himself in every bill-signing ceremony with warm bodies – women, the poor, blacks, people with illnesses but no insurance – just having them standing there is a highly effective ad that says: Look how much we liberals care about you unfortunates; see the amazing, life-transforming magic we are working for you!

New House Majority Leader Ryan and Republican candidates alike need to emulate the Dems’ emotion-packed arsenal.  Every time I saw Speaker Boehner on the evening news surrounded by a cadre of bloodless Republicans I braced myself for a funereal non-event complete with identically-suited pallbearers. Boehner would announce, “Today the House voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  Millions of Americans are losing their healthcare.” Cue the Kleenex. What a terrible waste of valuable microphone time and the opportunity to reach legions of voters with the Republican message.

People are not moved by a Congressional leader’s tears; they are moved by the tears of their fellow sufferers. Since the Creation, humans have identified with the stories of other humans. From Cain killing Abel to the ancient Greek play with Medea murdering her children for revenge on her cheating husband, to Dickens’ sweet Tiny Tim, people are gripped by a gripping story.

The Republicans must not waste a microphone opportunity by reciting statistics and snooze-inducing rationales. None of them must ever say “We need to repeal Obamacare” without being joined at the microphone by a mom and three kids whose chosen insurance was cancelled, replaced by an Obamacare policy with a $5,000 deductible they can’t afford.

Whenever saying, “Punitive federal EPA regulations are destroying the coal industry” invite to the podium coal-mining families to talk about losing the jobs on which generations of their forebears have built good lives. And about their once-vibrant communities that have been picked clean of neighbors and businesses thanks to Obama’s war on carbon energy.

If defending fracking or oil exploration, include a New York state family or two whose farms are going bankrupt because Democrat Governor Cuomo has denied them the right to sign oil and gas leases and profit from their private property’s mineral wealth.

And don’t even bring up Lois Lerner’s illegal punishment of right-thinking non-profit groups without an appearance by the real-life, very brave Catherine Engelbrecht who was personally dogged for over three years by a relentless mob of federal agencies. Her crime: seeking tax-exempt status for True the Vote, the non-partisan organization she founded to prevent voter fraud whether Republican or Democrat.

Any liberty-loving American would be horrified by the Gestapo tactics of the federal government against Engelbrecht and her husband. The combined muscle of four powerful federal agencies: the IRS, the FBI, OSHA and even AFT (Alcohol Firearms and Tobacco) swarmed their small family-owned business, showing up unexpectedly for on-the-spot audits and inspections in a terrifying vendetta.

Engelbrecht’s story illustrates yet another way that the Obamaites solidified election victory by denying hundreds of patriot groups influence that could have changed the outcome. Just like his White House lackeys and Hillary Clinton helped him win by blaming the Benghazi murders on an obscure film rather than Obama and company’s mistakes and mismanagement.

The power of story helped give us the second term of Barack Obama in yet another way. Remember the grieving steelworker whose wife had died of cancer? The Democrats fire-bombed the airwaves before the 2012 election with this dastardly tale, essentially accusing Mitt Romney of causing the woman’s death. No matter that it was a despicable lie, and the Bain Capital-owned steel plant closed five years before the woman passed away. No matter that the husband’s failure to get healthcare for his family and the wife’s failure to see a doctor were actually culpable for her death.

More powerful than facts was the pathetic widower in full-screen mourning, accusing Romney of being a heartless capitalist. And the ads resonated because everyone knowns someone who has died of cancer. Thus Romney’s persona was forever set: mean, selfish, uncaring, the Darth Vader candidate.

Had the Romney campaign combated that whopper with true stories of the candidate’s compassion, we may have had a President Romney. But his campaign saved the moving story of Romney’s vigil at a dying little boy’s bedside for the Republican convention, a time and place it would be largely ineffective. Memo to genius consultants: the Republican convention’s audience is Republicans, not Democrats or even necessarily Independents.

Voter polls after the election confirmed that Romney’s Democrat-manufactured bad-guy image was a huge factor in his defeat. Lesson learned: story will always move people more than statistics. Millions of Americans have been deeply harmed by the deformed policies of the Obama administration; it shouldn’t be difficult to track down a few of them.

Joy Overbeck is a Colorado journalist and author who writes for The Daily Caller, Townhall.com, The Washington Times, Breakpoint.org, and elsewhere. More columns here. Follow her on Twitter @JoyOverbeck1