Sunday, June 14, 2009

Rebranding the GOP

The GOP's latest gambit is to rebrand the GOP/Republican/conservative name. Branding and rebranding are marketing terms that mean the brand name, such as "GOP" becomes synonymous what whatever image the leadership is searching for, such as being labeled as moderates, and moving the image away from its current implementation, such as right wing extremists, which is a loser for the party.

On May 9th, 2009, Myriam Marquez writes:

"Jeb Bush hopes to change the GOP’s tattered image from an immigrant-hating, privacy-meddling party of the Deep South to the national optimism of the Reagan years."
To get a handle on their image problem, the primary question is, "Why does the GOP have this image?"

The answer because they allowed it to happen.

From what I have seen of the GOP playbook, if one responds to these charges of hate or racism, one adds legitimacy to those charges. While that may be somewhat true, the GOP's deafening silence on the matter only allows the lies to live and grow. Granted there are some that call themselves conservatives who go way beyond today's standards of civility and use what can be described as hate speech. But those are few and far between and have no power in influencing politics, policy or politicians.

Note: In today's political and media lexicon, if a Republican agrees with a Democrat, that Republican is a moderate. If a Republican disagrees with a democrat, he/she is an extremist. The media never label Democrats who disagree with Republicans as extremists. The media are mostly Democrats.

By the way, if the media would like to see real hate and vitriol they should just visit the Daily Kos (today's featured speaker: Bill Ayers, 6/1/09), Huffington Post, many entertainers (Here, Here) and some preachers. I see no moderation in their speech.

So, I agree that the GOP's image needs changing. But what can they do?

First, they need to put the labels to bed. When the opposition's talking points include racism, when responding to the GOP's position on immigration, the GOP needs to get their own talking points out there, and do it repeatedly. When the DNC made noises about the presidential candidate being African American and that GOP'ers better tread lightly, the GOP should have pointed to the Clinton's rhetoric to show who is using race in that election. And they should have repeated it often.

Additionally, there is a new Gallup poll that shows conservatives are the single largest voting group in America. The next smaller group is moderates, followed by liberals. Among Independents and Democrats, 34% and 22% respectively are conservative, with 73% of Republicans saying they are conservative.

Compromising on issues, such as keeping alive programs that don't work, does not help. The base wonders 'why bother? I'm not being represented'. Reports are they were really proud of Republicans in congress who all voted against the President's spending plan. The same voters ask, "Where was these convictions when you were the majority?" To me, it looks like GOP politicians have been trying the DNC's political tactics, such as voting for liberal programs to make the legacy media like them. Even though that has never worked. The base knows better and if properly stated, moderates would support them as well.

They need the intestinal fortitude to vote their convictions. What the GOP should have learned from the 2006 elections is that conservative issues win votes. When the DNC ran their candidates on conservative issues in 2006 to take incumbent seats from Republicans, it should have been a rallying point rather than abdication of their platforms. The left's rhetoric that Republicans lose votes due to being too conservative is total nonsense.

So, If the GOP wants to win elections, how about being conservative? That would include voting and talking conservative.

Next, the GOP should be facing the media with clearly stated answers to the country's problems without the name calling, hostility or anger that their friends across the isle use.

There are several changes that the GOP could emphasize to put them back into the good graces of conservative voters.

1. All things in Moderation. The vast majority of Americans, including me, are moderates. Conservatism is moderate by nature. We don't don't want a lot of radical changes in the way government interacts with the people, make and enforce laws. We do not want the country to become bankrupt by the out of control spending that is going on now. And the scary part is that the Democrats are considering more "stimulus" money.

Personally, I want the government to restrict itself to those constitutionally authorized functions. And picking which businesses live, which ones die, who runs them and what they produce, is not listed anywhere in the US Constitution or in any US law, as the job of the federal government. All of this to the detriment of the average working family. Republicans need to go on ABC, NBC & CBS, and their subordinate outlets, to pleasantly and calmly explain in just a few words why government cannot keep spending Hope Dollars. The country is already broke and the value of the dollar is dropping fast (gas at the pump is up 25% in eight weeks) due to deficit spending.

2. The legacy media. Republicans need to take charge of the conversation and get up front on this label to prove the image wrong in the legacy media. Republicans talk, talk talk, on CNN, Foxnews network and MSNBC and have always portrayed a moderate point of view. They don't seem to know that most average American voters do not watch cable news channels. The Democrats in the legacy media has told them that cable news channels cater to right wing extremists and no one needs "extreme" anything. Why would they tune that in if they consider themselves to moderates?

O'Reilly may have the most popular cable news opinion show, but he reaches a very small percentage of the voters in America. Republicans need more face time on these legacy media programs.

Campaign Finance Reform. Revamping federal and state election rules to remove the money from people and groups that are not eligible to vote for that Mayor, councilperson, state or US senator or representative, Governors, etc. To me, this non-eligible group includes all non-residents, companies, corporations, unions, PAC's, lobbyists and foreign nationals. Many will claim a First Amendment right to donate to any candidate, but that is a twisting of the intent of the First Amendment. Just recall the Boston Tea Party. Its message was "taxation without representation". Since the colonials had no say in how government was conducted, they did not want to finance it. In our time, our representatives' should be focused on their own constituency, not campaign financing and perks from special interests and other entities who are ineligible to vote. (small note: I sent a letter to Senators McCain and Feingold during the debate over campaign finance reform and recommended what I've written here. You know the outcome.

3. Feelings. I've heard it said that many people agree with conservative principles and Republican policies, but the GOP must be doing something wrong because they don't talk like they care about anyone other than their big business friends. To remedy this, Republican candidates and elected officials need to use the words "feel", "feelings" and "my feelings" whenever they are being interviewed or make speeches. I can guarantee you that you will never here a Democrat making a speech or being interviewed that does not talk about his/her feelings. It seems to be a key factor in the likability index. The GOP speaks with passion, but does not reveal feelings. So, instead of saying something like, "The president's plan will bankrupt America". They should say, "I feel like we are headed for trouble with all this spending. My feeling is that the poor will suffer the most when the dollar is devalued. That's how I feel about it". Don't use any statistics or facts. We know this from the Obama campaign. Even some tried and true Republican voters start saying, "yeah, yeah, yadda, yadda, yadda", when you tell them any facts. They just don't have a feel for it.

On a final note. I doubt that many voters are going to fall for more marketing gimmicks. If the GOP really wants votes, they need to go back to the dictionary and look up the words "represent" and "representation". These are not hard words to understand. The voters understand the meaning and they think they've been shortchanged. That is why Republicans were replaced by Democratic Party candidates. The people want people to represent them, not lobbyists, special interests, big business or each other. The GOP seems to have forgotten this. The Democrats that won incumbant GOP seats by campaigning on less gun control, smaller and more responsible government and caring about the people's issues. As it stands now, many voters, such as myself, have a difficult time determining exactly who has been represented. My skeptical side says they have been representing themselves and this will not do.

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