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You're not going to want to hear this.
Nonetheless, you have to.
If you want to win - indeed, if you want to make any sort of serious inroad into the American Political Process, you need to read this, you need to listen, and you need to adopt this path.
If you do not, you will be marginalized into irrelevance, no matter what else you do.
Here it is:
You must discard - intentionally - all "wedge issues" as points of debate, discussion, or campaigning. You know what these issues are - they fall broadly into the category of religion in one form or another.
These are issues such as abortion and gay rights (in all it's forms, including marriage debates), but is by no means limited to these two. In short, if there's a religious basis for your position, you must not campaign on it, and indeed you must pointedly refuse to discuss it.
The Tea Party began as a protest over bailouts and handouts - that is, theft and corruption within our markets, government and economy. This is a winning position with 90% of the American Body Politic.
Any candidate who runs on these issues - and these issues alone, promising to stop it and lock up the scammers - all of them - wins.
As soon as you bring the other issues that everyone wants to talk about into this, you will lose.
These are called "wedge issues" for a reason. There is about half the population, for example, that will rally around a position of "Abortion is Murder." There is also about half the population that will say "well, maybe in some cases, but in others no", all the way down to "you can abort any time you want prior to the first breath."
What you personally believe is irrelevant to the political process. These issues are used by the two main political parties to get the electorate to divide on a 50/50 basis - thus leaving them having to persuade exactly one person of their position on some other issue to win.
You cannot win such a contest. At best you can force one of the other parties - the one that most agrees with you - to lose. The reason is simple - you will split that half of the electorate, which means the other party - the one that disagrees with your position on those issues - wins the election.
Drill this into your head folks:
If you allow these issues to become part of your campaign, you will not only lose you will cause the party that most-agrees with you to lose.
I know this is going to be unpopular, but it needs to be said. I've seen this happening in some of the local Tea Party groups, and it saddens me. The local Niceville branch here featured people talking about "natural law" as an important qualifying factor for political candidacy, as just one of many examples. There were times I felt like I had walked into a Baptist sermon.
The Tea Party and other political expressions like it are, of course, free to run on whatever platform they'd like, and to back candidates based on whatever they'd like. But if you're going to do this, then you'd be wise to try to take over the Republican Party instead of being "independent" or any other sort of "outside" influence, because it is the only way you can win with this approach.
That is, you can try to turn the Republican Party into The Tea Party, and then apply your litmus tests. Now you have your 50%, and you need to persuade only one voter. That's a winning strategy, if you can pull it off. But to pull it off you will have to displace all of the "money men" who corrupted the Republicans - let us not forget that the Republicans were the ones who brought Henry Paulson into the Treasury after he, as Goldman's chief, set up lots of dodgy financial instruments, and then protected the banks who did those deeds from being smashed when it all blew up in their faces.
Not that the Democrats are blameless, of course. "Who is Chris Dodd and Barney Frank" would be a good starting question on that side of the aisle, and of course it doesn't stop there. Nancy Pelosi and illegal immigrants anyone?
The Tea Party infiltrating The Republican establishment is a long shot. Witness John McCain, who made a campaign spectacle out of bailing out the banks. How's JD Hayworth doing in challenging him? He lost, right? How'd that happen? The same way it always happens: Hayworth let the campaign's terms include those wedge issues, and then got tattoed by the guy with the bigger warchest and the ability to threaten people politically.
You either change the terms of the debate and the issues upon which the election is decided or you lose.
It's that simple.
The candidate that says this to the TV cameras and his opponent wins:
I am running on fiscal responsibility which I define as (insert your platform), and on the removal of embezzlement and fraud from our government and financial system, (insert your platform), including the reversal of the bailouts my opponent voted for and supported. Where fraud and embezzlement took place I will do everything in my power to see that each and every person involved goes to prison, starting with those at the top of these large corporations and, when necessary, current members of our government.
If you insist debating other issues the microphone is all yours, and you may monopolize it all you want. We may agree or disagree on those issues, but that's not what I'm here to discuss, and it's not what I'm running on.
If you elect me you will get the following (list of corruption and fraud that you intend to excise, along with your fiscal responsibility promises, including charts, facts and figures.)
I understand that these other issues are important to virtually everyone, but I also understand that almost exactly half of you who hear me speak now are on each side of these issues and none of you are going to change your mind. Therefore, the question I ask you is this: Are those issues more important than getting rid of the fraud, corruption, and scamming in our government and economy? If they are, no matter which side of those issues you happen to be on, then I'm probably not your candidate. If, on the other hand, fixing our economy, locking up the fraudsters and putting a stop to the rampant theft from each and every citizen in this room, which has personally indebted each and every man, woman and child in America by more than $40,000 over the last three years, is the most-important issue before you as you head to the polls, then I ask for your vote.
If you don't do this as a third-party or "outsider" candidate, you lose.
You need to appeal to the 90% issues and ignore the 50/50 ones.
Oh sure, there will be some people who won't vote for you without those answers to the questions you refuse to entertain and waste your time on. The siren song from those organizations, whether they be "Focus on the Family" or "Planned Parenthood" is strong. But their siren song is false, for every voter you attract by appealing to them comes with one who will vote against you with rabid furor, and the direction in which you declare your intentions on these issues doesn't matter - there is no winning in those points of debate no matter how you approach it. You can only lose and worse, cause those most-aligned with you to lose.
In short those who think that $40,000 is less important than your stance on abortion will split their vote for and against irrespective of which side of that issue you come down on. Your opponent that is closest to your personal position on abortion will thus lose, and so will you!
The only way you can avoid this happening is to not allow the debate to go down that road, and you must be steadfast and studious in rejecting all entreaties and attempts to get you to speak on those issues, because the two major political parties know this is how they get you to forfeit your ability to win - the fact that you stand and run on an issue they cannot agree with and yet which 90%+ of the population sees your way!
The Tea Party will not listen to this, but until they do, they will be insignificant, and the two primary political parties know it.