In a speech at the National Press Club on Monday, March 18, establishment Republicans rolled out their “Democrat-lite” strategy for making Republicanism a bit more attractive to Democrats – a strategy much favored by architects of defeat such as John McCain, Karl Rove, and Jeb Bush.
In his speech, RNC chairman Reince Priebus described the GOP’s 2012 campaign effort. He said, “Our message was weak; our ground game was insufficient; we weren’t inclusive; we were behind in both data and digital; our primary and debate process needed improvement.” Then, of the Romney loss to Obama, Priebus said, “There’s no one solution. There’s a long list of them.”
Well, I guess. If nothing else, Priebus is a master of understatement.
The report, called the “Growth and Opportunity Project,” laid out an extensive plan which the authors believe will lead to future party victories. The plan includes an extensive outreach to women, African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics, and gays. Among the key parts of the plan, the RNC plans to spend at least $10 million hiring paid outreach staffers (more inexperienced inside-the-beltway political science majors?); backing “comprehensive” immigration reform; shortening the presidential primary process; and moving the nominating convention up to June or July. The report could have been written by strategists at the Democratic National Committee.
Establishment Republicans just don’t get it. They fail to understand that there’s nothing wrong with the Republican message. All we have to do is communicate it in such a way that it appeals to mainstream Americans… as true conservatism always has… and to do that we simply have to stop listening to the advice of Republican moderates. Senator Marco Rubio had it right at CPAC when he noted that party moderates regularly insist on developing a “new idea” for the party. He said, “We don’t need a ‘new idea.’ We already have a ‘new idea.’ It’s called ‘America.’ ”
It’s also called “conservatism,” and the only reason it is not the prevailing ideology in America today is that it is not properly articulated. For example, Senator Ted Cruz tells us, proudly, that his father came to America from Cuba in 1957 with $100 sewn into his underwear. He worked his way through the University of Texas by washing dishes for 50¢ an hour, and now his son is a member of the United States Senate.
It’s a wonderful story, but it loses impact because Republicans fail to understand how to make the most of such stories. They tell only half the story, so it fails to reach those who need to hear it most: young whites, blacks, Hispanics, and the few open-minded progressives.
First, it’s important to realize that most Republican leaders are completely tone-deaf when it comes to understanding the game they’re in. In order to defeat Democrats it’s necessary to first recognize that what Democrats do is to divide the population into sub-groups. They tell us what those sub-groups think… whether or not they actually think that way… and then they identify with those beliefs. It’s Chapter One in the Democrat playbook and it’s sheer political fakery.
No one in Republican Party leadership seems to understand how that game is played. So how does that failure apply to Senator Cruz’s story?
The point that Republicans tend to ignore… in the mistaken belief that low-information voters already understands it… is that Senator Cruz’s father didn’t come to America with just $100 in his pocket because he was anxious to tap into an American welfare program. No, the senator’s father came here because he found totalitarian socialism, the kind of government of which Barack Obama and most Democrats are so fond, to be totally destructive of the human spirit. And he came here not for a handout, but for economic opportunity… for a chance to make a better life for himself.
But when’s the last time you heard a Republican leader explain that simple truism to the average Obama voter? Democrats, on the other hand, wrap their arms around illegal immigrants by supporting such cockeyed ideas as amnesty and the Dream Act, and by running ads in Mexico telling prospective illegals how to sign up for food stamps and other benefits once they arrive here. They make it sound as if our Hispanic citizens agree with the idea of amnesty for illegals. They don’t. But Republicans blithely ignore their share of the Hispanic vote.
On the subject of gun control, congressional Republicans are willing to go only part way out on the limb. When questioned about their opposition to the Obama-Biden-Feinstein gun control effort, they go only so far as to say, “If the Democrats have their way, only felons and street criminals will have guns.” That’s it; that’s all they say.
What they leave unsaid is that the vast majority of those who commit street crimes and drive-by shootings are either registered Democrats, or Democrats-in-training. Take guns away from law-abiding citizens and only Obama supporters will have guns.
So what if Democrats feign outrage at that statement, calling it “racist?” When Democrats play the race card, the Republican response should be, “My Democrat colleague has just implied that all of the criminals and felons in the country are black. That’s outrageous!”
In the battle over tax increases vs. spending cuts, congressional Republicans continue to give the American people far too much credit. They apparently assume people will remember that, in the recent battle over the “fiscal cliff,” it came down to a question of either raising tax rates on the rich… those making over $250,000 per year… which Obama and the Democrats favored, OR, ending corporate subsidies, closing tax loopholes, and flattening tax rates, which conservatives and Republicans favored. There was never a suggestion that we could or should do both.
In that debate, Republicans finally relented and agreed to increase tax rates on those earning in excess of $400,000 per year, a move that increased federal revenues by some $650 billion per year. But now, just three months later, Obama and congressional Democrats never mention the tax increases of December because they know that few Americans remember what was done to avoid the “fiscal cliff.” Instead, they now come back with proposals for even more tax increases, insisting upon ending corporate subsidies and closing tax loopholes.
Speaker Boehner occasionally mentions that tax increases are no longer on the table, but he fails to explain why. When he appears before the TV cameras he makes a brief two or three minute statement before abruptly turning and walking away… as if whatever it is he has to do in his office is more important than creating understanding of the Republican side of the issue.
In her recent barn-burner speech at the annual CPAC conference, Sarah Palin took a thinly veiled, but well-deserved, shot at Bush strategist Karl Rove. She said, “If these experts who keep losing elections and keep getting rehired and getting millions – if they feel that strong about who gets to run in this party, then they should buck-up or stay in the truck… Buck up or run. The Architects can head on back to the great Lone Star State and put their name on some ballot – though for their sakes, I hope they give themselves a discount on their consulting services.”
Although Rove is due much criticism for his failures during George W. Bush’s White House years, and for his continued support of the Republican “establishment,” he is to be commended for his efforts to screen out lame-brained numbskulls such as U.S. Senate candidates Todd Akin, of Missouri, who found it necessary to create a new category of sexual assault called “legitimate rape,” and Richard Mourdock, of Indiana, who explained that, in the case of a pregnancy resulting from a rape, “… it is something that God intended to happen.”
In both instances, their insensitivity lost Senate seats that were shoo-ins for Republicans. They literally gave the Democrats two critical seats in the U.S. Senate.
What we do not need is a “rebranding” of the Republican Party. According to a January 2012 Gallup poll, 40% of Americans continue to describe themselves as conservative, 35% describe themselves as moderates, and only 21% are willing to call themselves liberals or progressives. What this tells us is that the idea of Republican “rebranding” is sheer nonsense. We don’t need to “rebrand” the Republican Party; what we need to do is to throw John McCain, Karl Rove, Jeb Bush, and all the other RINOs to the ground, hog-tie them, and “rebrand’ them as conservatives.
In Barack Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, we have the four most evil people in American political history. As a group, they compare well with the most vicious political despots of the 20th century. Just imagine what would happen if we allowed them to breed. We would have the most poisonous pit of vipers ever known to man.
So who do Republicans hire to confront that unspeakable evil? Mr. Nice Guy, Mitt Romney; The Kentucky Gentleman, Mitch McConnell; The Man of Few Words, Speaker John Boehner; and the Invisible Man from Virginia, Eric Cantor… individually and collectively, the least articulate communicators in party history.
Conservatives seized control of the party in 1964 and again in 1980. It’s time to do it all over again, but this time let’s do it for keeps.