But this is the “stupid party” we’re talking about, so I won’t hold my breath.
In the wake of the disastrous 2012 election results, there has been a lot of discussion on the right regarding the GOP’s apparent “message” problem. Much of the conversations has focused on immigration issues as a way to bring in new voters. Recently, Charles Krauthammer wrote:
I’ve always been of the “enforcement first” school, with the subsequent promise of legalization. I still think it’s the better policy. But many Hispanics fear that there will be nothing beyond enforcement. So, promise amnesty right up front. Secure the border with guaranteed legalization to follow on the day the four border-state governors affirm that illegal immigration has slowed to a trickle.
Imagine Marco Rubio advancing such a policy on the road to 2016. It would transform the landscape. He’d win the Hispanic vote. Yes, win it. A problem fixable with a single policy initiative is not structural. It is solvable.
It’s going to take much more than that to solve the current issues the GOP has with voters. You can’t pander to one racial demographic and think that will solve all of your problems. The predicament that they find themselves in goes much deeper than a single issue, and it’s based primarily on trust. According to an election night survey released by Breitbart News, Judicial Watch, and Public Opinion Strategies:
Voters’ responses suggest that the American public agrees with conservative policies–but does not trust the Republican Party to implement them.
For example, voters dislike big government, with 71% agreeing (and 49% strongly agreeing) that: “The larger the size of government the more opportunities it creates for possible corruption.” In addition, 85% of voters said they were concerned about corruption in Washington, and 53% described themselves as “very concerned.”
Yet voters do not trust Republicans more than Democrats to deal with corruption. Only 34% said Republicans would do a better job of cleaning up corruption; 37% said Democrats would. That is an indictment of the permanent political class, regardless of party. And despite the President’s talk of cleaning up Washington, his party is not viewed as better able to do so.
So, the Democrats share much of the same issue with voters regarding corruption, but they’re able to squeak enough votes each cycle because they have more credibility on other matters. Here’s a thought. How about for starters, the GOP stop selling out their principles and try to gain some trust back with that 71% who dislike big government? And how does either party address the 85% of voters who are concerned about corruption in Washington, when both of them are compromised in that area? Considering all of the money wasted in Washington on cronies and corruption, these concerns by the vast majority are extremely legitimate.
As I watched the debate go back and forth on the GOP’s message problem after the election, an article written by Anand Giridharadas back in 2011 titled “Some of Sarah Palin’s Ideas Cross the Political Divide” came to mind. In it, he wrote:
[S]omething curious happened when Ms. Palin strode onto the stage last weekend at a Tea Party event in Indianola, Iowa…
She made three interlocking points. First, that the United States is now governed by a “permanent political class,” drawn from both parties, that is increasingly cut off from the concerns of regular people. Second, that these Republicans and Democrats have allied with big business to mutual advantage to create what she called “corporate crony capitalism.” Third, that the real political divide in the United States may no longer be between friends and foes of Big Government, but between friends and foes of vast, remote, unaccountable institutions (both public and private).
In supporting her first point, about the permanent political class, she attacked both parties’ tendency to talk of spending cuts while spending more and more; to stoke public anxiety about a credit downgrade, but take a vacation anyway; to arrive in Washington of modest means and then somehow ride the gravy train to fabulous wealth. She observed that 7 of the 10 wealthiest counties in the United States happen to be suburbs of the nation’s capital.
Her second point, about money in politics, helped to explain the first. The permanent class stays in power because it positions itself between two deep troughs: the money spent by the government and the money spent by big companies to secure decisions from government that help them make more money.
“Do you want to know why nothing ever really gets done?” she said, referring to politicians. “It’s because there’s nothing in it for them. They’ve got a lot of mouths to feed — a lot of corporate lobbyists and a lot of special interests that are counting on them to keep the good times and the money rolling along.”
Because her party has agitated for the wholesale deregulation of money in politics and the unshackling of lobbyists, these will be heard in some quarters as sacrilegious words.
Ms. Palin’s third point was more striking still: in contrast to the sweeping paeans to capitalism and the free market delivered by the Republican presidential candidates whose ranks she has yet to join, she sought to make a distinction between good capitalists and bad ones. The good ones, in her telling, are those small businesses that take risks
and sink and swim in the churning market; the bad ones are well-connected megacorporations that live off bailouts, dodge taxes and profit terrifically while creating no jobs...
“This is not the capitalism of free men and free markets, of innovation and hard work and ethics, of sacrifice and of risk,” she said of the crony variety. She added: “It’s the collusion of big government and big business and big finance to the detriment of all the rest — to the little guys. It’s a slap in the face to our small business owners — the true entrepreneurs, the job creators accounting for 70 percent of the jobs in America.”
Keep in mind that Sarah Palin was told to “leave the room” by none other than Charles Krauthammer, back in 2009. Yet now he tells the Republican Party that in order for it to save it’s hide, they must reward lawbreakers and anoint a man as leader who has engaged in illegally soliciting foreign donations, just as President Obama has also done.
That is not the answer. The answer for the GOP is to clean up its own act and address the real concerns of the majority of Americans, regardless of political affiliation. They can start by not shunning the members of their own party who have the credibility to speak on such matters. Reform in Washington is a winning message and has the potential to bring in voters from nearly every racial, gender, and economic demographic in the country. It isn’t too late for the Republican Party to jump on board, but time is ticking. American voters need a true opposition party to the big-government, tax and spend, corruption plagued Democrats. The GOP establishment would do themselves and the country a favor by allowing people into the room who can credibly push for reform, and by ceasing their own practices of big-government corruption.
Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.