Avoiding the punditry associated with the RNC ‘post mortem was no small feat, opting to actually read the RNC document. Sleeplessness is no longer a problem. Apologies in advance for any repetition of points already made elsewhere. There is much to recommend the RNC document. There is also much to criticize.
Essentially the document admits that the DNC kicked RNC butt and the RNC needs to catch up related to infrastructure, technology, outreach and social media. Fine, no surprise; what have you been waiting for? One could make the argument that the political ‘pros’ should have seen this coming a long time ago. There was a reason why the President’s and the DNC’s infrastructure was left in place after 2008. The RNC should have seen this coming. The RNC has to rethink the strategic and tactical direction they’re getting from the pros; it has simply not worked. Had the Tea Party not risen in 2010 the ‘pros’ would have probably lost that battle as well. While the Republican establishment frets over Tea Party influence what they should be fretting over is how to apply a grassroots organization that already exists instead of looking for a way to create a parallel capability. Must be the Pros at work! They can say what they like, but the ‘pros’ are scared to death of an actual grassroots movement. There would have been full throated defense of the Tea Party if they weren’t. The only folks more in fear of the Tea Party than the Republican pros are the Democrats; with good reason.
The document intimates that values should change or be customized based on outreach to voting communities they lost: the young, Asians, Hispanics and African Americans. Wrong! Infrastructure is one thing, values are quite another. It’s not so much Democratic light we’re talking about here as Republican light. Republican light has not been getting the job done and the RNC pros seem to be saying, let’s get lighter? What the RNC should be doing is reaching out to those communities in a way that connects politics with native common sense is one of the missing aspects of the RNC plan. Reach out and talk about the basis for Conservative thinking; logic, anticipation of consequence, confidence in the individual, delivery of the decision making process as close to the voter as possible and bringing people to see that most of them already have a Conservative streak in them and may not even know to call it that.
The RNC should engage communities that rejected them; not to find out what they want and give it to them but to insure the engagement is a two way conversation. Listening is good, the RNC says they want to do a lot of that; a two way conversation that leads people consider the alternative opinion is also critical. To engage absent response is not engagement, it’s pandering. Engagement absent vision is where this document falls flat on its strategic face.
The document fails to consider the actual impact of Democratic policy as we will come to know it over the next two to four years. That is where a significant part of the message will need to be. Dissatisfaction with ObamaCare will escalate, if you’re young your insurance premiums are going to potentially double. Concerns over debt and deficits will become more pointed, the constant push for new taxes will eventually be rejected. Fraud based dependency will become an issue and push Americans toward a commons sense analysis of what is happening and what they’re paying for. The common sense strategy is to point out the nearly daily contradictions between what has been promised and what is actually happening.
There are simple questions to direct to whatever community the RNC wants to talk to. “Are you happy with the new normal?” 15% un/under employment, 2% GDP growth, minority employment falling well behind the national average, exploding health care costs, exploding government intervention that must, by definition, come from the most disrespected institution in the land; Congress? Is the school in your neighborhood going to improve based on your involvement and pressure or another thousand pages of regulation from the Dept. of Education in D.C.? Would you like a choice in where your kids are educated? Is your state government more efficient than the federal government? A look at the accomplishments of Republican Governors over the past few years answers that question. The RNC does highlight Governors, but not sufficiently. Republican Gubernatorial leadership has produced great ideas, creativity, economic improvement, bi-partisan legislation and successful changes in direction.
Leadership is the illumination of vision, the ability to create the context within which people can absorb facts and make decisions. I would suggest that the RNC ‘listen’ not only to minority groups but to people with superior leadership skills, who know how to illuminate vision. Vision is absent from most of what is in the RNC document and it’s a glaring omission!
There are realities to face; Gay Marriage is likely going to become an acceptable state of affairs, there is a rising tide in favor of it. Immigration reform must be a partnership between undocumented residents and the government. Legal Hispanics seeing a path for the illegal community that is not amnesty could change their perception of the Conservative position. The message to them is that we must respect what they have achieved in finding their way to legal status and not minimize what they have accomplished. There are Conservative solutions that can resonate with minority communities; simply saying no will not resonate.
Conservative solutions have to recognize reality. They should be able to apply essential values in a changing environment. Momentum must be stopped before it can be redirected.