The Republican Party Needs to Check Assumptions

In looking through the Republican plan, a number of things kept striking me.  One of them is that there were so many assumptions built into their statements.

Republican governors are America’s reformers in chief. They continue to deliver on conservative promises of reducing the size of government while making people’s lives better. They routinely win a much larger share of the minority vote than GOP presidential candidates, demonstrating an appeal that goes beyond the base of the Party.

One might note that this rather blithely waves aside the very poor polling results of many of those Republican governors and state legislatures.  In fact, it is because of their “success” at “deliver on conservative promises” that they are unpopular.  Many of the “Republican Class of 2010” are facing the likelihood of being sent back to civilian life.  Governors like Rick Scott, Scott Walker, Nikki Haley, Rick Snyder, and John Kasich are polling … poorly … and are going to face challenges next year.

When they talk about changing policies, there’s this nugget:

Instead of driving around in circles on an ideological cul-de-sac, we need a Party whose brand of conservatism invites and inspires new people to visit us. We need to remain America’s conservative alternative to big-government, redistribution-to-extremes liberalism, while building a route into our Party that a non-traditional Republican will want to travel. Our standard should not be universal purity; it should be a more welcoming conservatism.

It starts off and ends with a good idea, but in between is where the problem is.   Their biggest problem is that the Democratic Party isn’t a party of “redistribution-to-extremes liberalism.”  In fact, one of the major whines from the far Left is that they aren’t, and most definitely the current President isn’t.   It’s called a strawman argument, and it’s what has led the Republicans into trouble electorally.  They’re ranting and raving about things that aren’t reality, and it’s obvious to everyone who isn’t in their bubble.

Further on the policy front, they say this:

One of the contributors to this problem is that while Democrats tend to talk about people, Republicans tend to talk about policy. Our ideas can sound distant and removed from people’s lives. Instead of connecting with voters’ concerns, we too often sound like bookkeepers. We need to do a better job connecting people to our policies.

and then this:

But if we are going to grow as a Party, our policies and actions must take into account that the middle class has struggled mightily and that far too many of our citizens live in poverty. To people who are flat on their back, unemployed or disabled and in need of help, they do not care if the help comes from the private sector or the government — they just want help.

I should note that there’s absolutely no acknowledgment that they were the ones implementing the policies which led to the conditions mentioned in the second paragraph.  The ones that really didn’t work and need changing.    It’s breathtaking in a way.  “We need to connect people to our policies, even though those same policies were the ones that put them in the crapper.”  How about “let’s think of new policies?”

Moving on, these gems:

The Party is seen as old and detached from pop culture. The RNC needs to make immediate efforts to reverse this narrative. It can be done; look at the two benches. While the Democrats have Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, we have leaders like Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Kelly Ayotte, and Bobby Jindal, among many others. We also have a youthful RNC Chairman, Reince Priebus. The RNC must more effectively highlight our young leaders and fundamentally change the tone we use to talk about issues and the way we are communicating with voters.


Young voters need to be attracted to the Republican Party by both the message and the candidate.   Obama was seen as “cool” in 2008, and his popularity spread like wildfire among young voters.  Obama and his “Change we can believe in” slogan was a trend in 2008 to which many young  Americans were attracted. In 2008 and again in 2012, the Obama campaign used young supporters as precinct captains and boots on the ground. They were enthusiastic voices bringing their friends and neighbors into the campaign. The RNC and Republican candidates need to establish the same network of committed young voters who will help spread our message.

Good idea to attract young voters, but a couple of things.  First, talking about Rubio, Ryan, etc. as being “youthful.”  Compared with your base, yes, but compared with youth voters?  No.  They’re also not that popular with young voters for their policies.  It also ignores the rather deep Democratic bench.   While I like Joe Biden and Hillary, they’re not the only rising stars, and by attempting to ignore that, you’re putting yourself in the position of being blindsided.  The most odious is the assertion that Obama attracted the youth vote because of a slogan and being seen as “cool.”    What he did was to put together a superior campaign organization, have policies on issues important to youth, and get them involved.  He outmaneuvered your candidates at every turn, and it’s why you got hammered in 2012.   Trying to say “we can be cool too!” is … pathetic, and a quick path to further defeats.

I’m going to cut off there in the interests of space, but there’s examples like this all through this document.  A good idea here and there, but then the core assumption takes over.   The main “problematic” assumptions are that their policies are still workable and don’t need changing, that it’s “communicating” them that’s the problem; and that the Democratic Party is as dogmatic and ideologically blinkered as they are.  Both of which are not true, and failure to check those assumptions at the door is why they’re likely to have major issues when it comes to trying to “change.”

Even those “good ideas” aren’t enough.  You see, I already said what their biggest problem is:  Republicans.  Right now, conservative commentators and politicians are screaming their heads off about this document.  They don’t like it, at all.  Even aside from them, apparently the idea of being “more inclusive” and “listening to concerns” is not something that many of the same Republican governors and state legislators have heard.  They’re busy passing “conservative agenda” items which step all over those concerns.

So what this document does could at best be called “putting new lipstick on the pig.”  It’s a start, but the first thing you have to acknowledge is that you’re doing a makeover on … a pig.  If you’re looking for a beauty queen, you’re already off to a bad start.



Filed under Politics

14 responses to “The Republican Party Needs to Check Assumptions

  1. aquagranny911

    Bravo Norbrook!!! Most excellent & stellar analysis of the current GOP ideas & aims.

    Most are so disconnected from “the people” they wish to court that they remind me of a 7th grader I once taught who put two pencils up his nose in order to impress a girl he was enamored of at the time. That tactic failed to woo her as will the GOP’s tactics fail to woo youth & minorities.

    They just won’t accept that their policies suck & their actions are ugly & way worse than two pencils up the nose!

    • One of the things about the “cul de sac” comment I noted about was that despite recognizing that they were in one, they promptly behaved as if their “principles” weren’t the cul de sac. It ends up like saying you want to win the Miss America pageant, but need a makeover. If you’re a pig instead of a human female, all the makeovers in the world aren’t going to get you a win. You may have a very pretty pig, but it’s still a pig.

  2. Good stuff Norbrook. Keep it coming.

  3. nathkatun7

    “So what this document does could at best be called “putting new lipstick on the pig.” It’s a start, but the first thing you have to acknowledge is that you’re doing a makeover on … a pig. If you’re looking for a beauty queen, you’re already off to a bad start.”

    This is it in a nutshell! As always,Norbrook, your analysis goes to the heart of the matter. Until Republicans fundamentally change their policies they will have a very hard time attracting young people, most women and most people of color. Actually, the Ryan budget is more likely to erode the senior citizens’ support for the Republicans.

    In my humble opinion, if Republicans hope to regain support from ethnic minorities, women and the youth, they need to seriously study the history of the Democratic party and African Americans(AA). If they did, they would know that it was FDR’s New Deal policies that initiated the trek of African Americans from the party of Lincoln to the Democratic party. Even more importantly, the 1948 Civil Rights plank adopted by the Democrats as part of their party platform, Truman’s Executive Order integrating the military, and even more importantly the 1960’s Democratic support for Civil Rights completed the move by African Americans from the Republicans party to the Democratic party. In other words, it was the policies and not the PR that led AA to change from being Republicans to being Democrats. Likewise, many Southern white Democrats began their trek to the Republican party because many prominent Republicans like Goldwater and Reagan opposed the Civil Rights Act. Then Came Nixon’s Southern Strategy which was perfected by Ronald Reagan. Once again, it was the Republican policies favoring white segregationists that attracted Southern white Democrats to the Republican party. The question for the GOP is: Can the party attract non whites (AA, Latinos and Asian Americans) without renouncing their white supremacist supporters? I don’t care how many AA PR men they hire for messaging. Calling the current GOP — dominated by people like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Sarah Palin, and Ron& Rand Paul — the Frederick Douglass Republicans is not going to fool very many African Americans and Latinos.

    • It’s not just the policies, it’s the actions as well. Saying you want to reach out to Latinos is great, except that your party’s platform contains a plank which calls for “self deportation,” 🙄 which was not terribly popular this past election. It also isn’t “helpful” when you have states like Arizona, Georgia, and Alabama passing their restrictive laws regarding immigrants. Then there was the move for “voter ID” laws to combat a non-existent problem, which just about everyone heard as a dog whistle for “urban black and brown” voters.

      It’s like that across the line. It’s not that there aren’t some good suggestions in the document, it’s that there’s really nothing in there that suggests a single change in policy and implementing actions. In the meantime, people’s memories don’t have to be long, because it was just … oh … a few months ago. It’s all well and good to say that you want to attract youth, women, Asians, blacks, and Latino voters. The problem is that when you’re actively doing things they’re against, all the “outreach” in the world isn’t going to help you.

  4. Snoring Dog Studio

    Excellent post! Love the comments – especially Nathkatun7’s. Hit the nail on the head again. In some ways, you can put lipstick on a pig and get away with it as long as the pig isn’t standing in front of a large group of un-made up pigs. And that’s the R party. As long as they pander to the extremists, right wing religious freaks, survivalist kooks, and white supremacists in their party, all this blather about inclusiveness is just that. They can’t be everything to everyone when one of the legs to their stool is comprised of the worst of humanity. They want more youth and women in general? Stop passing and submitting draconian abortion legislation. Stop treating a large portion of the population as beggars and thieves. Stop sucking up to and rewarding the wealthiest while crushing the less fortunate with unfair taxation and threats of taking away their lifelines. Get rid of the PR BS. WE can all see through it.

    • One of the older sayings around are “talk is cheap,” and “actions speak louder than words.” They can tell everyone how much they’re “changing” and how their “policies and principles” are good for the country and people, but to date, everything people see with their own eyes and experience tells them something entirely different.

  5. Vic78

    You would think they didn’t know that Americans answer polls like hippies. Democrats have it easier because the majority already agrees with them. Hell, the majority of non voters overwhelmingly support liberal ideas. The repubs aren’t assessing their situation honestly. How many people are turning 18 every year? The GOP had people endorsing abstinence only Sex Ed. That shit would get you laughed out of the room when I was in 6th grade. The sad fact is 85 % of the country would do the same. In reality the Republicans are Pee Wee Herman trying to fight Jon Jones. I would say that banging chickens is unhealthy. If they insist there’s nothing I can do.

    • Polling can be a double-edged sword, but the problem Republicans have is that they’re not only asking the wrong questions, they’re not willing to accept the results if they disagree with the answer they wanted.

      Ask anyone if they’re against wasteful government spending, and you’d find that almost everyone (I’m sure there’s someone who isn’t) would say they were. Break that spending down into specifics and suddenly the picture changes. It’s the same pattern you can see with the ACA polling. Individual parts all poll highly positive, but polls “in general” have mixed results.

  6. see above

    Yes, yes, and yes

  7. I’ve been saying this for years-if the Republicans want to remain a viable political party, they HAVE TO GET RID OF THE LOONIES. That means the Religious Right AND the Birchers. They can’t afford to be seen with those people, especially since the country is shifting to the Left now. LBJ kicked the racists out of the Democratic Party by signing the Civil Rights Act, and thank Goddess he did. That’s one of the reasons why the Democratic Party is so strong now. Hopefully, the Republicans will follow his lead by kicking out the religious nuts, the racists and the Birchers. They had better do that-and very soon.

    • Their biggest problem is that the religious right, the racists, and the Birchers are mostly what they have left. One of the things they need to start thinking about is not so much outreach to attract new voters, it’s to get back the people they lost when they turned the reins over to the fringe.

  8. Good point. And that’s their big problem. It’s pretty sad when Reagan’s kids, Nixon’s kids, Goldwater’s kids, Buckley’s kid AND Eisenhower’s kids are now Democrats and not Republicans. And all of them left thanks to the Religious Right and the Birchers.

    • An awful lot of “independents” are former Republicans. I know that my now-retired (she didn’t run for re-election last year) Republican Assemblywoman endorsed and voted for President Obama last year. The breaking points for her were LGBT rights (she wrote the marriage equality act in this state) and women’s rights. Reminiscing about her first party meeting, she was told “the women are in the kitchen.” She replied “I didn’t come here to sit in the kitchen.” 😆 Unfortunately, that’s where the Republican Party these days seems to feel they belong.