But First, The Republican Party Really Has To Want To Change…

December 2nd, 2008at 07:35pm Posted by Eli

Charlie Cook has some very interesting advice to the Republican Party from a couple of Republican consultants who really really want to remain anonymous.  Cook’s belief is that they have a good handle on what’s wrong with the GOP and how to fix it, but that the party establishment doesn’t want to listen.

Anonymous Consultant #1 believes that the Republicans want to continue telling themselves that the last election was just some kind of flukey perfect storm of Dubya’s unpopularity and the economy cratering, and they don’t have to change a thing, other than to move farther to the right.  I think he’s completely right about this, and equally right that it’s a really bad stupid idea.

AC#1’s thesis is that the Republicans lost because they’ve trashed their brand through corruption and incompetence, and a complete lack of any meaningful policy ideas beyond tax cuts and tax credits.  I personally think this is a bit simplistic and unfair – sometimes they propose deregulation instead.

One comment where I thought he was going to have a revelation and failed:

Here is another point from the post-election data: People really don’t want to pay higher taxes. So, on the one hand, they want to have government address their problems and on the other hand they don’t want to pay for it.

Yes, it’s true that the small-government mantra has lost its appeal – mainly because Katrina and the multiple tainted food episodes viscerally reminded people of the value of competent government – but the point about people not wanting to pay higher taxes is one of those where Republicans have willfully missed the boat.  It’s true that people don’t want to pay higher taxes, but “not wanting to pay higher taxes” is not the same as “wanting billionaires and multimillionaires to get ginormous tax cuts.”

The Republican promise to lower taxes loses a lot of its appeal when you realize that they’re not talking about yours.  Which is what makes Obama’s tax plan so brilliant, at least from a purely political perspective.  It completely explodes the Republican promise that “The Democrats will raise your taxes, but we’ll cut them.”  If the Republicans had used that tax plan, we might never have gotten rid of them.

Anonymous Consultant #2 also makes a couple of intriguing and insightful comments:

Republicans ought to be the ones really starting to get creative on the energy issue. We ought to be putting our best thinking into coming up with strategies and new ideas on this issue. It isn’t going away, and we have to get out in front on it.

I know Republicans could care less about the environment or global warming, but our dependency on Middle Eastern oil puts us in a tremendously difficult economic and foreign policy position.  If the GOP were not totally in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry, is there any ideological reason for them to not be all over alternative energy?  You’ve got job creation, entrepreneurship, American know-how, and a chance for the US to become energy-independent, and perhaps even a net exporter of profitable energy technologies.

I know it’ll never happen, but it really is a huge missed opportunity.

And finally, again from AC#2:

[S]top being [misguided] on immigration. We are alienating huge parts of the electorate, we are turning our primaries into single issue ‘hate’ contests and ignoring the single fastest growing bloc of voters in the country.

This is very true, but immigration is not the only area in which Republicans campaign on hate.  They also rely on racism, sexism, and homophobia, which turn off a large chunk of the younger generation, which also happens to be rather large and is not dying.  Assuming they stay tolerant as they get older, and that the generation after them is at least equally tolerant, that kind of Rove/Nixon/McCarthy campaigning is going to hurt Republicans more than it helps them.  I think this election may have actually been the tipping point.

My advice for the Republicans is simple, and probably impossible: Get with the times, stop trying to hate your way to victory, and stop always placing wealthy, corporate, and fundamentalist interests over those of ordinary people and the health of the planet.  If you can do all that, you might just be able to make a comeback.  Of course, you probably won’t be Republicans anymore, but that’s just nitpicking, innit?

(h/t dakine)

Entry Filed under: Elections,Politics,Republicans

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