When a baseball pitcher is trying too hard, his manager will walk out to the mound and say, “Trust your stuff.” What this means is: Rely on what got you this far in the first place; understand that the speed, movement, and control (collectively, “stuff”) of your pitching is good enough to get batters out; don’t overthrow in an attempt to squeeze out an extra mile-per-hour or two or another half-inch of break; don’t try too hard to hit a precise spot. Just rear back and throw the ball, and good things will happen.
That’s the spirit that Republicans need to keep in mind over the next two weeks, and going into 2016. Trust your conservative message to be strong enough to win votes from the large fraction of Americans who value freedom, prosperity, security, and family; don’t oversell it, and don’t try to craft specific appeals to this group or that gender or such-and-such a demographic. A candidate who microtargets his campaign message is like a pitcher who focuses too hard on hitting the corners, and the solution is the same: Rear back and fire. Clumsy attempts at targeted legislation and tax breaks will only dilute our message.
The Republican party, and conservatism in general, aren’t built for identity politics; that’s the Democrats’ game. As I wrote a year ago:
Try to translate all this into Republican terms and you’ll see the main structural weakness of the GOP: Since our principles are opposed to identity politics, we don’t have any powerful, well-defined identity groups to logroll for each other. There’s only one group that benefits strongly and directly from Republican policies, and its members won’t be able to vote for 18 years.
The flip side of this is that since conservatism supports what’s best for the nation as a whole, everyone who isn’t a gung-ho member of a Democratic client group is a potential Republican voter — just as long as we trust our stuff and don’t mess it up by getting too fancy.