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Today, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus released the so-called “RNC Autopsy” that highlights what the party did wrong and how they can move forward. Actually titled “The Growth & Opportunity Project” (GOP for short, get it?); the Republican Party continues to prove that they are more than able to identify the problems they have but do a horrific job on how to solve them.
The “autopsy” highlights seven areas in which the Republican Party can improve off of and they are:
- Demographic Partners
- Campaign Mechanics
- Friends and Allies (Third Party Groups)
- Campaign Finance
- Primary Process
All of the above problems are legitimate concerns and we should not immediately brush them off, but let’s take a look at exactly what the Growth & Opportunity Project is calling for the Republican Party to do in future elections.
The messaging section begins with a very accurate statement:
The GOP today is a tale of two parties. One of them, the gubernatorial wing, is growing and successful. The other, the federal wing, is increasingly marginalizing itself, and unless changes are made, it will be increasingly difficult for Republicans to win another presidential election in the near future.
This is true, as the Republican Party continues to plummet in the national rankings but still have recently dominated the local executive branches of states. Barack Obama easily won states that recently elected a Republican Governor (Wisconsin, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania) and the RNC team is correct in their assumptions.
Remember “federal Republicans” helped the party miss opportunities to swing Senate seats in Missouri and North Dakota, Republican strongholds. So their opening statement in the messaging section is surprisingly accurate and holds weight.
Another interesting tidbit in the opening introduction is a potential rebuke of Ronald Reagan?
At our core, Republicans have comfortably remained the Party of Reagan without figuring out what comes next. Ronald Reagan is a Republican hero and role model who was first elected 33 years ago — meaning no one under the age of 51 today was old enough to vote for Reagan when he first ran for President.
The continued praising of Ronald Reagan amongst the right is quickly getting as dated as its getting repetitive and it’s safe to assume that Reagan will still be mentioned ad nauseam. Nonetheless, one of the main problems with the Republican Party is the fact that its a backward-looking party, not forward looking. The continued “America is a beacon” ideal is getting tiresome to the public who desperately want answers not slogans. Reagan, with each election, becomes more and more unknown to the voting public in a way that JFK is today.
Reagan is excellent only if you are a conservative diehard, if you are an independent or right-leaning Democrat that can be swung over, Reagan is about as appealing as what their high school valedictorian is doing today.
Section 1 of Messaging addresses the claim that “Republicans Don’t Care” which is probably a pretty true statement when you consider Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” budgets that have been produced year-after-year.
Yet the solutions for changing that ideal, to showcase that Republicans do care, is one that seems more entrenched in fantasy than in probability. The report suggests that the Grand Ole Party becomes the “Growth and Opportunity Party” but it sounds like the report wants the Republicans to be more like Democrats, which is great news, but it’s likelihood of passing is slim to none.
The report is right that the GOP focuses on policy, not people, but should also attack corporate malfeasance and attack corporate welfare. But considering how much money the Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson and Foster Friess donate to Republican candidates (hint: A LOT), how would prospective candidates toe the line?
Note: Nothing on labor.
One of the solutions the report suggests is that Republicans:
If we believe our policies are the best ones to improve the lives of the American people, all the American people, our candidates and office holders need to do a better job talking in normal, people-oriented terms and we need to go to communities where Republicans do not normally go to listen and make our case. We need to campaign among Hispanic, black, Asian, and gay Americans and demonstrate that we care about them, too.
You see, this is one of the ultimate flaws of this report and one that’s been reported on before. The solution to getting key demographics is not just talking to them, but it’s about helping their communities. Creating fear in immigration reform, creating anger in disallowing marriage equality and demonizing those who live on welfare (i.e. “welfare queen”) is the Republican problem; not going to communities. Sure, it’s great for people of all communities to see their representatives, but you are going to have to fight for people; not listen to them. Poor idea.
For Section 2 of Messaging, “America Looks Different”, this quote is also as telling as the previous one highlighted.
If we want ethnic minority voters to support Republicans, we have to engage them,
and show our sincerity.
How about fight for them and not demonize them? Sadly, party leaders such as Paul Ryan are being completely sincere in their beliefs. It has been rebuked once before on a national ticket, but it seems it wants to bring up his budget again. You can’t be social and expect that to make up for slashing social services.
II. Demographic Partners
The report highlights Hispanic, Asian and Pacific Islanders, African Americans, Indian Americans, Native Americans, women, and youth as the new demographics the party needs to listen to.
Would you care to see their excellent solutions to gain popularity amongst these demographics?
On issues like immigration, the RNC needs to carefully craft a tone that takes into
consideration the unique perspective of the Hispanic community. Message development
is critical to Hispanic voters.
First, call them undocumented workers not “the illegals”.
Establish swearing-in citizenship teams to introduce new citizens after naturalization
ceremonies to the Republican Party.
My personal favorite line/solution in the whole report is this. “Hey, welcome to America! I’m sure you are excited to be part of this great nation. Would you like a bust of Ronald Reagan or a copy of Atlas Shrugged?”
On Asian and Pacific Islander Americans:
The RNC should develop a nationwide database of APA leaders.
What happened to going into their communities? Sounds like they want the easy way out and just create a spreadsheet.
Wait a minute. All the suggestions for racial demographics are the exact same and the only change is to switch up the demographic they wish to target.
This is where the Republican Party gets it completely wrong again. You want to appeal to these people? They are smarter than what you give them credit for, for example, sending party leaders to Hispanic, Asian or African American communities is not the answer. They don’t care about the person as much as the matters that affect their way of living. All people hear through media are quotes that your party says (“I don’t want to help black people”) and then you wonder why they don’t vote for you?
For the party that exemplifies fiscal responsibility, this report is slowly turning into a bureaucratic waste of money.
The “autopsy” also encourages Republican leaders to go on the Daily Show or MTV and appeal to youth voters. Also they wish to install a “Celebrity Task Force” to empower all twenty college students who like Kid Rock.
I really dislike saying this but if the Republican Party really wants to go after youth votes, they should probably take a page out of the Paul family playbook since they are the only party members who have a youth support group. Then again, that would require inward thinking; something the Republican Party has shown to be exceptionally weak at.
III. Campaign Mechanics
One of the longest sections of the report is a proposed overhaul of what the Republican Party can do to reach more people. Interestingly, they concede defeat to the Obama For America group who clearly outclassed the Romney team on the ground. The ground game proves that retail politics still exist in our mass media world.
Really the only solutions that the report provides are that the national party needs to cede to the state parties (which is case in point with the whole federal party being unpopular) and that the Republican Party really needs to re-examine their polling strategies. Big shock, huh?
The most important takeaway from this section is not the solutions but not the problems. Even though he’s only casually mentioned in the report, Mitt Romney’s presence looms. This seems to be more of a post-mortem of why Romney lost as opposed to why the Republican Party loses.
IV. Friends & Allies
The focus of the fourth section of the overall report focuses on the actual campaign season. The RNC tiptoes around unsuccessful primaries instead by suggesting that voters need to be well-informed about all candidates and highlight Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson as perfect examples (though how are they different than Todd Akin, Sharron Angle and Joe Miller?) of why a primary is important.
Encourage friends and allies to invest in ground and field development and technology
in addition to traditional TV buying. In some cases this includes shifting spending from
TV ads to other investments.
Another big highlight is of TV spending which the report correctly cites as “out of control”. Instead the RNC advocates for a local approach as opposed to swamping the airwaves though since SuperPACs are outside the control of national campaigns. I’m not sure persistence will work if the national candidate starts trailing in polls.
Here’s a good one:
It was a surprise to no one on the Republican side when the Obama campaign began to define Governor Romney as unacceptable. The 2004 Bush campaign pursued the same effective strategy against Senator John Kerry. However, the sound of silence from our side in response to the damaging attacks must never happen again.
Really all of this could be solved by not nominating Mitt Romney. For the record, attacking John Kerry’s war record and comparing that to Romney actually making comments such as in the “47%” video are two completely different things.
This is the section of the report that is mostly self-congratulatory and offers very little substance in advancing the cause of national candidates. It’s rather funny though because if there is anything that the Republican Party is good at is appeasing corporate donors. I wonder what they will think about the ideas to punish corporate malfeasance?
VI. Campaign Finance
Oh boy, if the last section made you sick this one will make you outright institutionalized. All campaign finance really talks about is how awful McCain-Feingold is and how wonderful the Supreme Court is for their decision on Citizens United.
The report rightfully laments SuperPACs but the solutions that are proposed mostly deal with Congress and legislative proposals. Really this part of the report could have been omitted for the lack of storylines or solutions that are provided.
VII. Primary Process
The, thankfully, last section of the report focuses on enhancements to the Republican presidential primary process. The ideas that are proposed are interesting to say the least though.
The most important part appears to be to limit the amount of debates and in fact half them to around 10 or 12. This is actually a good idea for the RNC since the more the world is shown Marco Rubio, the more they will realize he’s oh-so-amateur. But it might not be a great idea for candidates who peak later, a la Rick Santorum in the last cycle, since there will be less national avenues to emerge as a main candidate.
This seems designed to favor the frontrunners as one of the most important sections of how the GOP needs to select their nominee earlier. Avoiding a bloody primary is mostly a pipedream in open races but the report also heavily suggests moving the primary up to July as opposed to late-August. This would speed up the process but would make the run-up to the November election that much longer. No idea if the American public would prefer being swamped with attack ads in the summer.
There are some ideas proposed in the report that would greatly boon the Republican Party’s chances in future elections but the likelihood that they are enacted remain to be seen.
In fact, I could see this report almost invigorating the Tea Party/Club for Growth organizations that feel like they are being demonized for the ineptitude of the Romney campaign, which was the establishment pick by the way. The report throws some bones to the right wing, like touting the success of electing Marco Rubio, but is mostly going to fall on deaf ears.
The rest of the report is mostly fluff and seems to miss the whole point of why the Republican Party will likely continue to lose at the national level. Being behind the curve on topics such as marriage equality and contraception is a problem and that’s how you turn off some demographics. Being the Party of No on Capitol Hill is just as detrimental to the future successes of the party.
But let’s not be shocked, when has the GOP learned from their past?