[Guest Contributor - Donald G. Mutersbaugh, Sr.]
“There’s no one reason we lost,” [Reince] Priebus said of November’s elections, in which Democrats held the White House, kept control of the Senate and gained seats in the House. “Our message was weak, our ground game was insufficient, we weren’t inclusive, we were behind in both data and digital, and our primary and debate process needed improvement.” http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-03-18/politics/37816621_1_priebus-asian-voters-immigration-reform
So, the Republican National Committee produces this 100 page report with an extensive analysis and great ideas on how to win elections in the future:
All of this is very good except for one thing: it would be easier to put toothpaste back in the tube then to implement all of the recommendations that have been made by the beginning of the next election cycle. This is especially true if you look at what's going on now in an effort to rebuild the Republican Party: nothing. This report may be a great blueprint for a long-term effort on rebuilding the Republican Party; but the fact of the matter is they should be thinking about ways of winning the Senate in 2014 and the presidential election in 2016.
But it appears that there are some who wish to take the Party down the wrong path:
‘“But the controversies besieging the White House present an alternative strategy—simply running against the Democratic problems at the expense of dealing with the long-term challenges the party faces. Republican officials are now sending strong signals they're planning to highlight the Democratic scandals more than any major policy push heading into next year's midterm elections.
“Opting for the easy way out could achieve short-term success, but the party risks avoiding the hard work necessary to make it more appealing to moderates and independents in the long run.”’
‘“For their part, Democrats—while not encouraged by the scandals—are happy to have Republicans focus on them. Just another example, they say, of a party trapped in pleasing its base while forgetting to appeal to more moderate voters.”
"They can't resist," said Matt Canter, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. "The base can't stand the rebranding. Scandalmania plays better for them with the base and they've become a slave to the base."’ [Ibid]
I think it's important to discuss a couple of points regarding this strategy. While it is possible for Republican Party candidates to include the scandals besieging the Democratic Party, I would like to suggest the following: Define the Republican Party and run FOR something rather than AGAINST something. By focusing on the past imbroglios, they will never get ahead of the messaging and image rebuilding that needs to occur. There are so many scandals that even the mainstream media have begun to report on them; the American people are just plain tired of hearing about it. Most people are of the opinion: yes, it happened; yes, it's bad; but I can't do anything about it – let the party apparatchiks take care of it. Now, tell me how you can make all of this go away and make my life more secure and enjoyable.
Another point needs to be made about how the Republican Party views itself. My perception is that they live in a closed bubble, telling each other how great things are and what the American electorate is thinking: it's called ethnocentrism.
“The term ethnocentrism was created by William G. Sumner, upon observing the tendency for people to differentiate between the in-group and others. He defined it as "the technical name for the view of things in which one's own group is the center of everything, and all others are scaled and rated with reference to it." He further characterized it as often leading to pride, vanity, beliefs of one's own group's superiority, and contempt of outsiders.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethnocentrism
The bigger picture that is being overlooked here, however, is: how does the average American voter feel about the GOP party?
From a recent The Hill poll “Voters prefer Republican budget ideas, but dislike the GOP”: “However, as soon as respondents heard the words “Republican” and “Democrat,” the picture changed drastically. A plurality of voters, 35 percent, said they trust the Democrats more on budgetary issues, while 30 percent said they trust the Republicans more. A full 34 percent said they trust neither party….These findings buttress the impression that the Republican label itself incites mistrust among many voters.” [ http://thehill.com/polls/288641-hill-poll-voters-prefer-gop-budget-ideas-but-dislike-republican-party ]
Need more proof? How about this:
“The Republican Party’s ratings now stand at a 20-year low, with just 33 percent of the public holding a favorable view of the party and 58 percent judging it unfavorably, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. Although the Democrats are better regarded (47 percent favorable and 46 percent unfavorable), the GOP’s problems are its own, not a mirror image of renewed Democratic strength.” http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-03-22/opinions/37923872_1_democratic-party-republican-party-polls
There are several other points to be made, but they are beyond the scope of this current blog. The main point that I want to make is this: the Republican Party stands to lose in future elections if it doesn't immediately begin changing its image. It needs to define itself as more of a caring Party; and it needs to demonstrate to the electorate that it is culturally inclusive, fiscally responsible, and the party of new ideas standing FOR something instead of AGAINST something. The Party needs a message – and they need it now!
Donald G. Mutersbaugh, Sr. earned his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland and his Master of Business Administration degree from Mary Washington College. He is the former Associate Administrator of Information Resources for the U.S House of Representatives under Speaker Newt Gingrich.