At our core, Republicans believe that individuals make better decisions for themselves, their families, and their businesses than bureaucracies make for them. We believe that power and decision-making should be as decentralized as possible. We understand that in America you are not trapped in the circumstances of your birth, but limited only by your desire and ability to seize the opportunities available to you. A majority of Americans inherently line up with these conservative principles, whether they realize it or not. It’s the job of our party to build a personal connection with voters and show how our policies line up with their worldview and provide a better life for all. As Jack Kemp said, “They have to know that you care before they care what you know.” Herein is the problem.

Among 2012 voters who wanted their president to “care about people like me,” President Obama handily defeated Mitt Romney 81 percent to 18 percent. The election results proved that voters felt Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaOvernight Cybersecurity: What we learned from Carter Page's House Intel testimony | House to mark up foreign intel reform law | FBI can't access Texas shooter's phone | Sessions to testify at hearing amid Russia scrutiny Russian social media is the modern-day Trojan horse Trump records robo-call for Gillespie: He'll help 'make America great again' MORE connected with them personally. Never mind that his policies reduce paychecks, increase taxes, and hurl Social Security and Medicare toward insolvency. Thanks to the president’s effective messaging, Republicans are being blamed for our nation’s economic woes — even though our policies are the only way out of this economic mess. Our party must start to paint our own picture, and that picture is a choice of two futures.

Imagine your child going to the school of your choice, with educators who teach not what is handed down from a bureaucrat in Washington, but what best meets the needs of your community -- an education system that’s the envy of the world where teachers are paid what they deserve because we are paying them instead of propping up a huge education bureaucracy. This is the Republican vision for education reform.

Imagine your child driving to school for the first time without dedicating 1/3 of her summer job earnings to gas money. This is the Republican vision for an American energy policy.

Imagine your child graduating from college without a huge student loan debt. Imagine that she quickly finds a first start in a long career because the job market is booming and people are hiring because taxes are low and regulations are reasonable. This is the Republican vision for job growth.

Imagine your child is one day able to purchase a home because she was able to save her hard-earned money for a down payment through a tax-free account for first-time homebuyers. Her taxes are low and she can invest more of her money in her community’s businesses, her church or synagogue, and philanthropic causes she cares about. This is the Republican vision for tax reform.

Imagine that your child doesn’t have to worry about taking care of you as she enters the prime of her life because Social Security and Medicare have been reformed and strengthened. This is the Republican vision for entitlement reform.

Imagine that your child, as she is thinking about starting her own family, knows that her first child won’t be born into this world owing $52,000 as her share of the national debt. This is the Republican vision for budget reform.

Within all these reforms, and the policies that make them possible, your child has choices; your child has security; your child has personal freedom and opportunity. This is the Republican vision for the future.

Conservatism thrives only when it’s infused with optimism. That was the secret of Ronald Reagan’s success. Republicans need to speak to America’s aspirations and emphasize how our solutions will help those who dream of a better future, not just the ones who are already living that dream. This is the key to the Republican Party succeeding for generations to come.

Hudson represents North Carolina’s 8th Congressional District.