4. Conservatives want to slash Social Security and Medicare.
This charge is at the heart of the Democrats’ campaign against the GOP. Take Florida, a key swing state full of conservative seniors. According to an AARP poll there last year, 70 percent of them oppose cuts to Medicare. They want the program strengthened, not dismantled. They know Medicare needs reform, but they want changes to be effective and reasonable.
Conservatives believe in such simple principles as personal choice and greater competition, and they are more confident than liberals in people’s ability to make the right decisions. For example, 78 percent agree with the statement: “Increasing patient choice in Medicare will help save Medicare from bankruptcy. When patients can shop for better care . . . it will force insurance companies to compete against each other, which lowers costs and increases care.”
When it comes to government retirement programs, conservatives are pragmatic, not ideological. More than anything, they want programs such as Medicare and Social Security to work. Plain and simple.
5. Conservatives don’t care about inequality.
Fully 66 percent of conservatives consider the growing gap between the rich and the poor a “problem,” according to a poll I conducted in January, while 21 percent call it a “crisis.”
So, if everyone is concerned about the income gap, what’s the big difference between left and right? It’s the difference between opportunity and outcome. Conservatives want to increase opportunity, giving everyone the freedom and tools to prosper, so that the poor may someday become rich. Liberals want to redistribute income, making the rich — quite simply — less rich.
Conservatives also believe that we need better enforcement of the regulations we already have, not more rules. Like all Americans, they are outraged that there hasn’t been a single prosecution by the Obama administration for the corporate abuses that led to the economic meltdown. As a focus group participant once asked: “If Martha Stewart was convicted, why no one from Goldman Sachs?” Or, as I’d put it, “Why are they working in the White House, not doing time in the big house?”
Frank I. Luntz, a pollster and communications specialist, has advised conservative politicians and corporate clients. He is the author of “Win: The Key Principles to Take Your Business From Ordinary to Extraordinary.”
Read more from Outlook:
To beat Obama, Mitt Romney must channel Rick Santorum by Ralph Reed
Five myths about female voters by Melinda Henneberger
Republicans won the midterm elections. Now can they survive? by Frank I. Luntz
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