RNC Postmortem: Zombie GOP Must Come Back From the Dead to Win the Presidency


The Republican National Committee has presented a "postmortem" of the 2012 election losses. This is a curious use of language commonly applied to death of someone or something. But, it is reflective of the current status of the party a group of zombies marching aimlessly to a beat, unable to connect with a wide swath of Americans with their outdated perspectives. 

It should be noted that a wide gap exists between "the 'inclusive and appealing manner' of the GOP governors [there are 30 of them] and the party’s 'federal wing,' whose message 'is not working' beyond core Republican adherents." These governors give the GOP a relatively strong base of support, which is then offset by negative public perception of the Republicans in Washington. 

The GOP has retained control in the House, enabling it to stymie the liberal agenda of the president. But this phenomenon is not a sign of real political support for these members. Rather, it results from gerrymandering that has enabled the GOP to reconfigure voting districts to help their candidates.

The principal recommendations proposed by the RNC were:

— Address the perception that the GOP does not care about people.

— Hire minority communicators and political directors.

— Create a new voter database.

— Encourage PACs to invest in political field operations, not just in TV ads.

— Push to increase contribution limits for federal campaigns.

— Limit the number of presidential primary debates.

— Hold the party’s national convention earlier.

— "Be inclusive and welcoming" in stances on social issues to attract young people and women.

— Embrace comprehensive immigration reform to reach minority voters.

— Act early to establish field staffs in states where the party has not traditionally won.

These recommendations are far too gentle to inspire true political gains. Frankly, the general perception of the GOP is that it hates women, minorities, young people, gays, and all liberals. Of course, this is a gross overstatement that the president masterfully sold to a huge percentage of the electorate. These perceptions are revealing. The GOP is not as anxious as Democrats to respond to issues affecting the aforementioned groups. But, to suggest that the GOP "hates" such a huge segment of the population is nonsense.

The recommendations dance around some very real problems. They suggest that more money is the salvation of GOP candidates. This is a very bad strategy. True, a presidential candidate cannot win without upwards of a billion dollars or more of support. But absent a universally accepted and unifying message, money alone will not be enough to capture the presidency.

Limiting the number of GOP presidential candidates in any way would be a positive development. The plethora of GOP primary debates did not help the party in 2012. The reason fewer debates would benefit the GOP relates to a cancer growing in its ranks. There are some Republicans so far-right that they want to push radical agendas which hurt the party, and to make the situation worse, these candidates are so out of the mainstream they cannot win. In 2012, several candidates were happy to tear the party apart as they presented their out-of-step philosophies. They were not team players anxious to compromise to create a more moderate platform that would be acceptable to more Americans.

Being inclusive about social issues is a terrific suggestion. The GOP has historically defined itself as a party that is in favor of smaller government except as it pertains to individual lifestyle choices. Abortion and gay marriage are examples of personal choice. The GOP should support increased individualism relating to social issues. It will enable the party to connect to more women and millennials who overwhelmingly support these rights. This must be done even if some Republicans are not personally in favor gay marriage, abortion, and such for themselves.

Immigration is the only issue in which the GOP has made progress. This will bode well for future candidates who support positive change such as Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush. It should be noted that the overwhelming support of Democratic candidates by Hispanics would not change dramatically with immigration reform.

And finally, the attitude about minorities that overshadows the GOP must be altered. It has to prove that it can be a party for all Americans, not just the wealthy. Once again, the GOP will never be the party of African-Americans. But, significant strides can be made at this time with a more receptive stance on issues facing the needy.

Ironically, the GOP has a winning perspective pertaining to the economy, debt, and jobs growth. All Americans are affected by better working conditions in the country. And so, these are the areas that the GOP should focus on in the future to improve its chances to seat a new president.