Last week the local GOP (or some variation thereof) held a panel up in a godforsaken suburb to get its collective head around the party’s very long list of problems. Needless to say, the presence of an incesstantly ranting, kvetching Tea Party blogger, one of Michele Bachmann’s “top” aides, a prospective Amy Klobuchar-fighter who couldn’t even beat Kurt Bills in the 2o12 primaries, Norm Coleman’s money man and a few others guaranteed nothing would be decided, other than that the Republican party both here in Minnesota and nationally will continue to be a farcical mess.
But we already knew that.
What that panel of the GOP’s best and brightest, all things being relative, needed was … me. As in a calm, rational, thoroughly biased voice saying, “Kids, let me tell it to you straight … .”
Oddly, I wasn’t invited. But since today we’re reading about Karl Rove’s latest strategy to reform the Republican “brand”, by (again) sucking millions of dollars from his Rolodex of robber baron chumps, it seems a good time to lay an effective solution out from a “reality based” perspective.
1: My good friend Sarah Janecek is right. (And I mean it about the “friend” part. Sarah is good peeps, her mid-range Republican delusions withstanding). If the GOP can’t agree on anything else, just get back to arguing about and campaigning on money. Everybody likes money. A lot of people think they understand how it works. Some of them are actually naive enough that they believe the same tax structures that prop up Wall St. banks and Bain Capital-like equity investors are also working for them. Never mind disabusing them of the reality of that one — that’s what liberals are for — just talk about money, which is another way of saying, “Lose the truly fruitcake social animus talk and the crowd that wants to hear it.” If it means a third-party challenge, that’s the hit you take when you’re in “rebuilding” mode.
2: Some how, some way, re-calibrate your primary system to block out the nut jobs. This shouldn’t be so tough, really. You’re Republicans for chrissake! What does representative democracy have to do with you? Just because the talk radio-stoked zealots swarm your caucus nights and stick you with the likes of Bachmann, Mary Franson, Cindy Pugh, Steve Drazkowski, Mike Parry, Allen Quist, etc., etc., and etc. some more, doesn’t mean you have to roll over and take it. Put up a damned fight! Rig the process. Or better yet, get rid of caucuses entirely, ditto your Tod Browning-like convention and push everything to the primary itself. If Rove, the Koch brothers and the other purses want to get serious about “reforming” your brand, let them slide cash to your sane(r) candidates.
3: Of course, both items #1 and #2 require that you actually take Bobby Jindal’s advice (which essentially echoes a popular line of thought from snickering liberals like me for the past 20 years or so) and “stop being stupid“. Within your bubble, where serious thinking wears the face of knee-jerk pandering/inciting bloggers, “top aides” for the most flagrantly uninformed, verbally reckless member of Congress and talk radio jocks, it’s easy to lose touch with what the 21st century is doing to Realityville, i.e. the actual world on the other side.
Just because I’m a great guy, here’s a quick rundown of your pet hot-button issues, stuff you’ve regarded as “essential to true conservatism” so long they’ve flattened bad enough in two consecutive presidential elections you’re now holding public forums to figure out what ran you over.
Immigration. (Get on board now and slap down the troglodyte factor shrieking “amnesty” just because Rush Limbaugh says so).
Women’s issues. (I hate to break it to you, but there are a lot of women of child-bearing age who look at your star chambers of silver-haired, Cotton Mather-style men and say to themselves, “You have got to be kidding me.” On the boy-girl thing, it ain’t 1950 anymore.)
Guns. (Go ahead, oppose the assault weapons ban on the ground that women home alone need a modern weapon with real stopping power when the ATF/CIA/FBI knocks down their door. You’ll look and sound like paranoid bag men for the NRA/gun manufacturers. But at least concede the universal background check. Unless of course you do think psychotics deserve “constitutional protection” just like you and me. Or at least me.)
Science. (It’s another word for reality. Your brand is in the toilet because it is 90% substance-free “branding” rhetoric and 10% response to facts. Human-caused climate change is an indisputable fact. Stem cell research holds untold possibilities for improving the human condition. At least get out of the damned way.)
Religion. (A private matter. Not something you inflict on anyone else for any reason, no matter what your well-remunerated mega-church pastors are telling you at your weekly hi-tech snake-handling sessions. Put another way — get out of voters’ personal lives. Or at least ask yourselves why you can’t?)
4: Get new leaders. The witches’ brew of talk jocks, bloggers and self-serving con men (Rove, Romney) have not and are not doing you any favors. You guys love dynasties. Even if you don’t want him to run for anything, take more advice from Jeb Bush than Eric Cantor, any/all of the Tea Party Patriot “spokesmen” (most paid off via Citizens United cash anyway), Pat Robertson, Jim DeMint, Jim Inhofe. Or, if you can’t stomach Bush, try Chris Christie. At least he’s savvy enough to know he’d get laughed out of the Bada Bing if he ever talked about “legitimate rape”.
5: And finally, actually do something. Drive some kind of legislation that is unequivocally beneficial to middle class voters. Your brand today is pretty much all about opposition. The only things you appear to care about are transparent sops to the Bain Capitals of the world (a money issue I admit, but one you can finesse with the usual bullshit) and the fears of aging white men. You may have missed this part in your “Marketing 5.0” seminars, but the key to successful marketing is to first … have a quality product.