Finding Commonalities and Solutions With Decision-Makers
Decision-makers passionate about policy details and driven by traditional values — hard work, a two-parent household and the American Dream — represent the Legacy Republican archetype.
Description: Value debate and relationships; interested in exploring other points of view; open to stepping out of party positions; passionate about details of policy; see selves as moderates but have strong traditional values.
Quote: “Tactics and strategy matter. Those first few opening sentences should be warm and welcoming and educational vs. the sky is falling and you are to blame and you are choosing not to do anything about it. Collaborative, informative and civil.”
Diligence, contribution, hard work, self-sufficiency
Integrity, forthrightness, respect
Motivated By: Solving problems and helping people.
How to Approach:
Take time to build a relationship.
Use facts, but be aware that they will fact-check and look for bias. They focus on the issue; understand that it is not personal to them. They know they may not agree with you today but might possibly agree tomorrow.
Experts and leading organizations
Business leaders and professional groups
Data and examples of success
Approach to PN-3 Issues: Acknowledge that early interventions prevent problems later in life; but may not see a government role.
Approach to Local Decision-Making: Concerned about the details of policy-making and question if local leaders have the knowledge and experience to make good policy.
“A child raised in a two-parent household — two incomes or one income – will have a better outcome. A parent who is at home raising a child — that child will likely have a better outcome than sending them to a state-run institution.” — State senator, male, 68, rural
Self-sufficiency is key. Opportunity and access for all is important, and that comes from people working hard for what they want and taking responsibility to understand the benefits available.
“There is a huge difference between a handout and a helping hand. We want the best for everyone, but that doesn’t come with just a handout. We don’t want to create a cycle of dependency. We want to provide opportunity and access — not just hand things over. We want to create the hope that they can achieve the American dream.” — State GOP activist, male, 42, suburban/urban
“We need to make sure there is an awareness of what is available. There is help available, but people don’t know how to access it. They need to make the right connections.” — State representative, male, 50, urban/suburban
When it comes to supporting families with young children, the decision-makers we interviewed sympathized with the challenges of securing child care and acknowledged that early interventions prevent problems later in life, but were unsure how to resolve the issue and believed it is not entirely the government's responsibility to handle.
“It’s a struggle to support this as a conservative, but as a compassionate human being — yes, it’s an issue. Moms can’t leave young kids at home. The idea of remote work, more flexibility — we need to have a serious conversation. I understand my privilege to be able to stay home with kids and still work.” — Executive director, school choice organization, female, 45, rural
“There is some argument to be made for addressing how we handle this, properly aligning incentives so it isn’t entirely dependent on your employer and also not entirely on the government. Needs-based and income-based.” — State GOP activist, male, 42, suburban/urban
The Legacy Republican archetype are business-oriented people and want investments to deliver a ROI. Accountability and metrics matter. So do families. Find a careful balance between offering ROI and also acknowledging desire for healthy kids and parents. For example: “We want to help kids and families efficiently and effectively.”
This archetype is also concerned about the details of policymaking and seeing the facts that support any policy. They question whether local leaders have the resources and experience to enact and implement good policy, though they believe it is easier and less risky to change things on a smaller, community-based scale.
Experts and leading organizations (i.e., American Medical Association, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, American Academy of Pediatrics)
Most likely of these four archetypes to trust some mainstream media (e.g., The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times)
For prenatal-to-three policies, it’s about solutions that set children up for success early. If a child gets “on the wrong track,” it is not their fault, so “starting young children out with every possible advantage we can” is a priority to create better outcomes later in life.
Clear solutions to problems. A 64-year-old female state representative and current candidate from an urban/suburban area mentioned she “wants to hear how they (nonprofits) will solve the problem (to the degree it can be solved) and not just proliferate it so they can have continued relevance. Tell me what you think the solution to ending the problem could be. Not how to treat the symptoms.”
“I think the government is incompetent so the idea of giving more turns me off without knowing the ROI. I need to know that there is an actual serious recognition that these programs have failed in some areas and there is waste — bureaucratic overhead and mismanagement. If we could have an honest discussion about those things, then yes. I believe in the proverbial safety net — people run into hard times through no fault of their own, or even if it is their fault, if they want to get back on their feet we should help. But I need metrics, efficiency — not just put it in place, appease an interest group and move on to the next issue.” — State GOP activist, male, 42, suburban/urban
Acknowledgement of personal responsibility. Legacy Republicans believe in self-sufficiency and personal responsibility. A 42-year-old male state GOP activist in a suburban/urban area expressed his distaste for mandates and government spending as a solution, and highlighted the importance of personal accountability: “I hate the idea that spending more money will solve it. It is tired. It is untrue. It is exhausting to hear. What struck me most about this conversation was the cultural element. Progressives need to acknowledge it. Share the facts and truth about how bad decisions or misfortune can have an impact on your life. There are consequences. If you want to avoid them, then don’t take certain actions.”
This archetype has “been there, done that” and knows what is happening in their community. Don’t come in with another pitch; instead, share data and discuss impact.
You don’t have to agree, but don’t underscore that. There are many things to disagree about, but don’t start there. Get to the point, get to the issue.
“The whole ‘we don’t agree on much’ — we’ve all heard it so often, it’s probably quit working. We all know without saying we are going to disagree. Don’t throw the difference in opinion in our face. Get to the point that this is about helping kids. Then shut up and ask — ‘What do you think you can do?’ We all want children to succeed. I don’t know anyone who would disagree with this — and we don’t care what color they are. That’s not an issue anymore. We want all people of all colors off welfare and having a happy life.” — State representative, male, 62, rural
“Don’t open by saying we disagree. If you start off on the negative it is hard to find the positive. Say, ‘I know you are a proponent of children. What can we do to assist you in creating a better outcome for zero-to-3-year-old kids? Can we offer some suggestions?’ And it cannot be let’s throw more money at it. That’s the worst way. Can you give us an extra million dollars? And we don’t know if there will be an ROI.” — State senator, male, 68, rural
Everyone wants solutions. A 50-year-old male state representative from an urban/suburban area noted that the “first few opening sentences should be warm and welcoming and educational versus the sky is falling and you are to blame and you are choosing not to do anything about it.” Take a “collaborative, informative and civil” approach.
Have relevant facts and sources on hand. Be ready to back up your ask but be careful of relying on national statistics or research from demographics that don’t reflect the state or locale of this archetype’s constituents. Data or case studies from progressive-leaning states (like California or New York) are often considered biased in more conservative areas.
This work is business, not personal. Legacy Republicans are the most likely to believe that you may not agree today, but you will possibly agree tomorrow. A male representative in his early 30s shared that the “[e]nd game is to improve the livelihood of all people in [our state] … Now let’s talk about the problem we are trying to solve. Hopefully 80% we can agree on — but let’s not burn a bridge or make an enemy. It’s not personal. Fundamentally, I can’t get on board with some of the proposals. But I want to work with everybody.”