...or at least I should be.
I'm a white man, on the low side of the 30-44 age bracket, with very strong military ties. I'm not a movement conservative, but I don't consider myself to be a movement progressive or liberal either. I don't think government is always the problem, but I also don't think it's always the solution. I fall into the 44% of voters who classify themselves as moderates. Overall, I think my profile more closely matches that of a Republican voter than a Democratic one.
I usually, but not always, wind up voting for the Democrat.
If you're a Republican, and you want my vote in 2010, 2012, or later, what do you need to do to get me to vote your way? Everyone who considers themselves to be a Conservative or Republican pundit or strategist has thrown in their .02 on that topic already, but none of the guano tossed around by Rove, Kristol, et al. (otherwise known as the schmucks who got you into this mess) really strikes me as the sort of thing that would get me to change my vote.
So what would it take?
In the spirit of the basic conservative principle that the government that governs least governs best, let's start by looking at the things that the Republican Party should stop doing. And let's get the big one out of the way first:
STOP QUESTIONING OUR PATRIOTISM AND COMMITMENT TO AMERICA!!!
When you question the patriotism of a candidate that I am seriously considering voting for, you are implicitly questioning my own patriotism. When you refer to a party's position on an issue as "anti-American", you are implying that anyone who supports that position is "anti-American". When you talk about one part of the country as being the "real America", you are implying that the people who don't live there aren't really as American.
Believe it or not, some of us actually notice that kind of thing. We also notice it when you accuse anyone who disagrees with you in any substantive way of simultaneously being elitist and less of a "true American" than you are.
When you start ranting about how your opponent is not American enough, or that he's really a Marxist, or a Socialist, or that he's proposing something that's Nazi-like, it tells me a lot more about you than your opponent. When you resort to attacks like that, it tells me that you really don't have any substantive response to the proposals, so you're going to hope that screaming and yelling and waving your arms will distract us enough that we won't notice.
Some of us notice.
Barack Obama and John McCain convinced me to vote for Obama. But it took the combined efforts of Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, and Robin Hayes to get me to get off my but and work my ass off as a volunteer.
Stop with the whole God, Guns, and Gays thing.
If you want me to believe that you're really in favor of a small government that doesn't intervene in people's lives, then you're going to need to show me that you're really in favor of a small government that doesn't intervene in people's lives. Telling us that the government should have the right to tell us what women can and can't do with their bodies, or what can and can't take place between consenting adults in the privacy of their own bedrooms doesn't get that job done.
Most people my age know at least one openly gay person. And most of us are fine with that. You might be able to get a little more mileage out of that whole thing, but younger voters are unlikely to oppose gay marriage.
At the very least, you should stop having people who have cheated - or are currently cheating - on their wives lecture us about the sanctity of marriage. It makes you look like idiots.
If you want to convince us that your economic policies are the right ones to move the country forward, talk about your economic policies. Don't tell us that your economic policies are the right ones, and we need to vote for you because otherwise the big bad gays will ruin the marriage.
I guess what I'm trying to say is this: if you want my vote, stop treating me like a moron.