People might ask why a liberal blogger is giving advice to conservatives. Well, I think that our democracy functions best when there is a vibrant and competitive opposition; it helps prevent the kind of corruption and overreaching that took down the Republican majority in the first place.
In the spirit of helping to rebuild the Republican Party, here are four ideas on how to rebuild the GOP:
1. New leadership.
You need a fresh face with good ideas to take the reigns of your party.
Newt Gingrich isn’t a good leader; he’s a throwback to the past, spending his days peddling repackaged, warmed-over leftovers from the 90’s. In a time when the country is looking for change, picking someone who left political office nearly a decade ago would be a bad idea.
Same thing for Fred Thompson, who’s even worse than Gingrich considering that he has no ideas has nothing to offer.
Michael Steele is a fresh face, but does he have any ideas? If he does, I haven’t heard them. And the fact that he lost to a lukewarm challenger in the 2006 MD Senate race speaks poorly about his ability to win tough elections. Plus, even though I don’t think at all he would be one, picking Steele (particularly after the election of Barack Obama) might end up looking like a token appointment. Didn’t Mel Martinez’s disastrous stint at the head of the RNC and Sarah Palin’s disastrous stint running for Vice President teach us that just because you put minorities in high positions doesn’t mean you’ll win minority votes? People aren’t stupid—you actually need to have policies that will benefit them to win their votes. (By the way, drafting some policies to help minorities out wouldn’t be a bad idea policy-wise).
2. Better organization.
Policies aren’t everything; you need better organization. Barack Obama never would have won had Howard Dean and the DNC not built a strong, nationwide campaign infrastructure and a state-of-the-art netroots fundraising network. You actually have to get out there and start building the kind of ground game that propelled President Obama to victory. Having good ideas helps you organize, but if you don’t get out there and get people engaged you won’t win.
3. Be forward-thinking.
Ditch Ronald Reagan. No, I’m serious—he left the White House twenty years ago. Most young voters don’t even remember Reagan except as someone they learned about in history class. Republican candidates trying to out-Reagan each other is terrible politics, because trying to emulate a former President is intrinsically backwards-looking. It signals to everyone that you don’t want to lead America into the future; you want to lead America into the past.
You don’t need to find another Reagan; you need to find the next Reagan. You need to find someone who will bring new conservative ideas to the table and implement them, just like Reagan did back in his day.
For example, Democrats spent years looking for the next Clinton. The highest compliment you could give a candidate was calling them ‘Clintonesque.’ In the end, though, the Democrat who got elected President—in a landslide, I might add—was almost nothing like Clinton. He was a new candidate with new ideas who actually had to take on and defeat much of his party’s old guard to bring about change.
Somewhere out there is a young conservative with some new, good ideas; find them and promote them, just like we found Barack Obama and promoted him.
4. Appeal beyond your base.
Let’s face it–the Republican base isn’t big enough to win national elections anymore. You guys can’t campaign by throwing red meat to your followers and still pull out a victory. You have to find ways to appeal to moderates and independents if you want to get back in the majority.
So ditch Sarah Palin—she might make you all feel good and you might love everything she says, but by every objective measure she was a drag on the ticket. Ignore the siren call of conservatives declaring open season on RINOs; you didn’t lose because you weren’t conservative enough, you lost because the moderates and independents who boosted you into the majority just couldn’t stomach your party anymore.
That’s just my amateur opinion, worth exactly the price of the pixels it’s spelled out in.