Mike Stenhouse: Conservatives – are you tired of losing? Here’s how to win!

Conservatives – are your tired of losing? If you are as concerned about our society as I am, especially after what we’ve seen in with one-party rule Washington DC and in our state over the past few years …  then you are fed up with politics-as-usual … and you must demand bold action!

Given the dire situation, I feel compelled to provide my 2 cents, as CEO of the nonpartisan RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity. While I and our Center are not allowed to engage in party politics, I am penning these thoughts as one of the leaders of RI’s conservative movement. Some may not welcome this email – understandable, while others may find these words valuable.

While we conservatives tend to sit back and pat ourselves on the back for holding the principled high-ground when it comes to contentious public policy debates and election campaigns … the left has been actively TAKING TERRITORY. On school boards, in libraries, as appointed heads of  departments and committees, in the media, in higher education, on corporate boards … even in many of our churches … the radical left are sitting in most of the seats of power and influence in our state.


But, without robust grassroots action, the entrenched special-interests will continue to  own this territory and rule our state. So, I urge you to get involved and see to it that you – or others on our team – begin to occupy some these seats.

Also, in this 2022 election season, you must get off your duff to vote for and openly support candidates who pledge to adhere to a united and winning vision for our Ocean State. A vision that will improve the lives of our families and neighbors … and a vision that will change lives for the better!

If you’re like me, you believe that state government under single-party rule is out-of-touch and is rigged to serve  multiple special-interest groups and corporations … while the needs of everyday Rhode Islanders are ignored.

We need to upend the “woke” apple-cart and shake-up the status quo with a clear conservative vision. It is my view that unless conservatives and other common sense voters in our state boldly and relentlessly stand for the core values that have always bonded Americans together, and translate those values into kitchen-table issues that benefit families, our movement will never attract the donors, candidates … or voters … necessary to win.

In recent years, the scourge of woke-left agenda, fueled by allies in the corporate media, has driven many conservatives to publicly abandon their core values out of fear of media and public backlash. THIS RETREAT MUST END!

It is conservatives who stand for the uniting principles of equal treatment under the law, limited government, and self-reliance. It is the progressive-left, conversely, that promotes the false utopia of government mandated social equity, identity politics, and an overall special-interest agenda that divides Americans and leads to dependency on government.

Over recent decades, Ocean State conservatives have lacked the leadership to articulate a clear counter-vision that might win support from the public. What does that vision look like? It’s the same aspirational vision that begot our nation’s founding: That in order to have the best chance to prosper and live a life full of hope and opportunity, that we must be free to live, work, and educate and raise our children … how we choose to … not how government and the special interest forces decide for us.

Common sense conservatives need to be seen as fighting for a better life for every citizen … contrasted with the insider driven and special interest agenda that too many of our compromised politicians are beholden to; an agenda that actually keeps down the under-privileged.

In short, it boils down to freedom of choice vs governmental control. Our vision is based upon the core values of love of country, freedom of religion, self-sufficiency, and preservation of the individual rights granted by God to every American, and as defined in our constitution.

Our state’s ruling class has no aspirational vision. They are now overtly and helplessly controlled by its own progressive-left faction that does not respect these values, will continue to infringe on your rights, limit your choices, and seek for government to impose more and more control over your lives. These are the political supremacists who think they know best.

The “woke left” wants to turn our state into Venezuela! Yet we hear no one speak-out at this level. No prominent conservative leader or candidate has made the extreme-left agenda a central theme of their campaign or advocacy. WHO WILL STEP FORWARD?

Think about it, only a very small percentage of people support the progressive-left’s anti-core-values agenda. This means that virtually all conservatives, most independents, and a large share of liberals will respond to a pro core values message. If you want to win votes … doesn’t it make sense to appeal to as broad a spectrum of voters as possible?

As conservatives, we must seek out, encourage, and support candidates who will stand proudly and firmly for what we believe in … new leadership who will work to re-instill this pride and vigilance throughout. But so far, no candidate is taking up this mantra.

Conservative core values and kitchen-table policies, if properly articulated and implemented, not only lead to a better quality of life, but can attract new voters to our movement. It is not possible to win elections in Rhode Island for state or federal offices without garnering more votes from urban and low-income voters.

Even at the school committee, local, or House and Senate levels, it is vital that pro-freedom candidates boldly put forth “core value” policy positions that will win over new voters, without losing support from our base.

Case in point …EDUCATION … and the 2018 Florida gubernatorial election, where the Republican, Ron DeSantis, won by a razor-thin 33,000 votes. It was later determined that he earned over 100,000 more votes  than was expected from a constituency that hardly ever votes Republican – black women! Why? Because DeSantis campaigned for better educational opportunities for the children of these caring families via his support of school choice – a policy position that empowers parents, improves educational outcomes for their children … and WINS VOTES!


Also, DeSantis got an estimated 44 percent of the Hispanic vote. Why? Because he boldly supported conservative educational reforms! Because of past reforms in Florida Hispanic students outperform their Hispanic counterparts in virtually every other state on NAEP exams, including much wealthier states such as Massachusetts.

In Virginia in 2021, Glenn Youngkin similarly won an upset victory for Governor when he boldly, and almost with a single focus, defended parental rights and choices when it comes to the education of their children. He won with the unexpected support of minority voters and families who care deeply about the education of their children.

Political supremacists on the left try to label these pro-family minority voters as traitors, for daring not to blindly follow the party line. Youngkin and DeSantis did not cede this issue to the left and their union allies … they took them head-on, and they won!

Why ever conservative candidate is not jumping up and down on the table and on the campaign trail talking about parental rights in education … is a complete mystery to me. It’s a proven political winner!

Every parent believes in the core value of providing the best possible future for their children. And when it comes to education, parents want more freedom to choose the best educational path for them; they do not want to be forced to send their kids to failing schools just because of their zip code.

Millennials: And it’s not just minorities who are attracted to a school choice message. Another group that conservatives struggle with – millennials – where most think bold reform is needed in our schools and have an appetite for change that goes beyond simply calling for more funding for schools..

Yet, even in the face of unacceptable educational outcomes in our state, do you know of any candidate who is campaigning on educational freedom as their primary focus? Do you know of any conservative candidate that is even trying to specifically appeal to mothers, fathers, and minority voters? No, instead we only hear about vague and timid education reform policy ideas, and a host of other insider policies that do not appeal to voters’ core values.

It’s time to get smart and learn how to articulate our vision, which by the way, means taking-on on the status quo unions, insider elites, progressives, and their allied media friends who defend the status quo. WHAT DO WE AS CONSERVATIVES HAVE TO LOSE?

Our movement needs to relentlessly put forth our winning message and we need political leaders at the state and local level – who understand that a vision based on conservative values leads to a better quality of life … and leads to more election victories!

We each have a role to play. Each of us must persistently encourage every conservative official, elected lawmaker, candidate, and local committee member to openly get on the same page; and we must unrelentingly seek educating ALL voters in our state about the brighter future our vision holds for them.

This is a vision that appeals to the broadest spectrum of voters across all parties. And, if you want votes from the minority community you must first ask them for their vote by articulating a vision that can be shown will improve their lives.

Other conservative policy positions can likewise win over other new voters to our team, if, and only if, we appeal to their core values.

Every conservative candidate, party leader, elected official, and grassroots supporter must be singing from the same song-book, if this strategy is to be effective in winning votes.

Just like education, there are many other issues, where conservatives have the best policy ideas to help people live prosperous live – and the winning message – if only we can learn how to proactively broach these topics and to effectively speak about them.

Winning issues for our team include:

  • Inflation and high cost of living caused by excessive state spending and handouts to unions and other crony insiders

  • Increasing our energy freedom of choice; fighting against the increasing costs and limited options the left wants to prescribe for us

  • Fighting against divisive race and gender theories, as well as an inappropriate and over-sexualized curriculum in our schools

  • Tax and budget cuts that lead to economic growth – and better paying job opportunities for all

We need to boldly go on offense! You may not realize it, but WE own the moral high-ground on these issue and we have the winning message – as we offer freedom of choice, not government control, and more opportunities for prosperity.

Yet too many conservatives are afraid to speak-out against the entrenched status-quo and risk being canceled by certain media and big-tech platforms.

Those who want to become your new state and local political leaders must not be similarly afraid. They must earn your support by pledging that they will stand for the core values and issues that our central our great American spirit … and that will improve people’s lives. You must demand this of them.

Conservative RI voters must not the national ‘red wave’ pass our state by … we must understand the tremendous opportunity that exists this year.

Thanks to extreme radicalism of the woke and progressive left … a major philosophical rift is building in the ruling party: moderates and liberals who believe in American values – on the one hand; vs regressive, European-style socialists who do not believe in these core values – on the other hand.

Conservative candidates need to exploit this rift and attract the more moderate Kennedy-style liberals to support our candidates and policies. This can be done only if we clearly articulate our positive vision – via the right candidates – if we are to take advantage of this tremendous opportunity!

This is not a time to be timid and defensive. Now is the time to boldy re-brand and re-tool our movement.

The big challenge and question is:

Will the right candidates emerge and take a leadership role in this regard?

I wish you Godspeed. In liberty,

Mike Stenhouse

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in The Ocean State Current, including text, graphics, images, and information are solely those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the views and opinions of The Current, the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, or its members or staff. The Current cannot be held responsible for information posted or provided by third-party sources. Readers are encouraged to fact check any information on this web site with other sources.

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