Republicans looking ahead to the 2016 presidential election should learn from Mitt Romney’s defeat and the political events of the last few years:

The 2012 Republican Convention (J. Scott Applewhite/AP) The 2012 Republican Convention (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)
  1. There are more wage earners than entrepreneurs, so aim for the former. And don’t use “entrepreneur”; it reeks of pretension.
  2. If all you are offering is to cut spending, regulation, taxes and debt, it won’t be enough to win in 2016. That message has not been able to draw an electoral majority, most likely because it does not touch on voters’ main concerns. (See #4)
  3. If you tell people in poverty that the solution to their problem is reducing the national debt, they will think you’re nuts.
  4. Taxes are not nearly as important to middle-class voters as economic insecurity and the pinch from rising fuel, college and health-care costs.
  5. We are not going back to a government of the size it was pre-New Deal. Not now. Not ever.
  6. Al-Qaeda is a real threat to Americans; the NSA “listing to your phone calls” is not. If you think the reverse, keep it to yourself because voters won’t trust you as commander in chief.
  7. You can’t say it enough: School reform is the civil rights issue of our times. Democrats want to keep kids (mostly poor minorities) in crummy public schools; Republicans don’t.
  8. Outside of hardcore GOP audiences, citing the Founders and invoking the Tenth Amendment will get you nowhere. And enough with Ronald Reagan, already.
  9. Let Democrats defend broken liberal welfare program. Republicans should defend poor people.
  10. If you are an immigration reform opponent, don’t invoke the “rule of law” to halt all reform. The current system is premised on flouting the rule of law.
  11. The gay marriage debate is over. Move on.
  12. If you think the United States can “nation build” at home and let the world take care of itself, you’re not paying attention.
  13. After eight years of President Obama, Americans will want someone to govern, not to paralyze the government (Obama’s done a lot of that).
  14. Opposition to Common Core — a project of and by the states — can’t be based on federalism grounds. It is federalism in action. If you don’t like Common Core, read it and say why the standards are wrong.
  15. You don’t have to win a majority of traditional Democratic constituents; if you cut into their support by 5 percent to 10 percent more than Republicans have been getting and hold traditional GOP voters, then the GOP wins.
  16. Ignore talk radio hosts. They thought Matt Bevin, the shutdown and “self-deportation” were all political winners.
  17. If the choice were down to a nuclear-armed Iran or a U.S. air strike, you’d better pick the latter as have the overwhelming number of Americans, our allies and the last two presidents.
  18. When you say you want to cut government, you better be able to reel off big ticket items. Don’t insult voters by saying foreign aid would be a significant cut.
  19. If you have an advanced degree, have never held a blue-collar job, have married parents who both went to college and live in a home more than 3,000 square feet, stop railing about “elites.” You are one of them and pretending you are not will be seen as a sign of inauthenticity.
  20. Stop complaining about your media coverage. No one cares, really.