Republican Party can easily rebrand itself by moving into 2012 rather than staying in 1950

Republican Party can easily rebrand itself by moving into 2012 rather than staying in 1950

If the rhetoric demonizing Mitt Romney within the Republican Party is any indication, some members of it are trying to turn the GOP to the left. Carlos Gutierrez, a GOP advisor says he was "shocked" by Romney’s most recent comments regarding President Obama’s reelection victory being due to "gifts" provided to Blacks, Latinos and young voters.

"Frankly, I don’t think that’s why Republicans lost the election," he said on CNN's State of the Union. "I think we lost the election because the far right of this party has taken the party to a place that it doesn’t belong."

Kevin McLaughlin, another GOP advisor who worked on several Senate races echoed: "We need candidates who are capable of articulating their policy positions without alienating massive voting blocs."

Regarding the "gifts" comment, Louisiana Governor, Bobby Jindal said "I absolutely reject what he said. We as a Republican Party have to campaign for every single vote. If we want people to like us we have to like them first. And you don't start to like people by saying their votes were bought."

Even Newt Gingrich piled on. On the Today show he said: "The president won an extraordinary victory. And the fact is we owe him the respect of trying to understand what they did and how they did it. But if you had said to me three weeks ago, Mitt Romney would get fewer votes than John McCain and it looks like he'll be 2 million fewer, I would have been dumbfounded."

In discussing Romney’s "gifts" comment, Gingrich said:

I'm very disappointed with Governor Romney's analysis, which I believe is insulting and profoundly wrong. First of all, we didn't lose Asian-Americans because they got any gifts. He did worse with Asian-Americans than he did with Latinos. This is the hardest-working and most successful ethnic group in America--they ain't into gifts.

Second, it's an insult to all Americans. It reduces us to economic entities. You have no passion, no idealism, no dreams, no philosophy. If it had been that simple, my question would be, ‘Why didn't you outbid him?’ He had enough billionaire supporters, if buying the electorate was the key, he could have got all his super PAC friends together and said, don't buy ads, give gifts. Be like the northwest Indians who have gift-giving ceremonies. We could have gone town-by-town and said, ‘Come here, let me give you gifts. Here are Republican gifts.’ An elephant coming in with gifts on it.

The GOP absolutely needs to rebrand, but it is a rebrand of image rather than ideas. The most important change it needs to make is one of tone. The GOP can continue to follow entertainers like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, but will do so at its peril. Limbaugh and Hannity do the party no favors in terms of outreach to people the party needs to get to win national elections. Limbaugh and Hannity represent the wing of the GOP that will sit there, arms crossed and yell without listening. They represent that wing that will demonize Michelle Obama’s "Let’s Move" Campaign because it makes our country less free to be fat.

This vocal minority within the GOP have made the more reasonable members of the party bolt. Olympia Snowe left the Senate for that reason.

The GOP needs more leaders like Governor Chris Christie, who will work for his constituency rather than working for party. Others, like Jeb Bush, believe the party has been highjacked by the right. Republicans like Jeb Bush are good for the country. You might not agree with everything Jeb Bush says, but you can sit down and discuss ideas and solutions. You can’t have a conversation with Sean Hannity– you’re only going to get lectured about how you’re going to destroy the country if you don’t agree with everything he says. He uses the "us against them" mentality like he is trying to defeat the USSR rather than a more cooperative approach mindful that we’re all Americans working to move this nation forward together.

A change in tone would do the GOP wonders. People were generally awed by a picture of Chris Christie and Barack Obama in genuine embrace after Sandy hit the east coast. We were in awe because we don’t see politicians from different parties working together. That is why our country is in the funk its in. A change in tone will get the people the GOP has turned off to start listening to them again.

Once we start listening, the GOP doesn’t have to abandon its principles, but it needs to apply those principles to 2012, rather than 1950. The easiest way to do that is with outreach to women, gays, and immigrants.

The Republican Party steadfastly believes in individual responsibility, individual economic empowerment, and smaller government. Applying these principles to women and gays makes for a stronger GOP. Reproduction– and women having the ability to control their own uterus– is an economic issue. Many women want to put off starting a family (if they want children at all) until after getting an education and establishing careers. The GOP should embrace these women rather than agreeing with Limbaugh in calling them "sluts." And it is pure economics. More women working creates a more vibrant economy. If the party stands of individual empowerment, it should apply that to women and give women the tools they need– contraception and family planning options– so they can be economic engines, rather than babymakers.

The GOP also stands for smaller government; it just needs to apply it to gays and lesbians. Take the government out of the bedrooms of gays and lesbians. An individual candidate can say that marriage should be between a man and a woman, but that same candidate can also say government isn’t here to legislate against it. Failure to do that will cause the GOP to lose an entire generation of young people (as today’s young voters grow older, they will lean Democratic by default; further, in four years more teenagers who are more progressive on social issues will be voting too).

Finally, if you tie immigration policy to economic empowerment, it can turn into a Republican win. The GOP must argue that people who come to this country to work and pay their taxes can find a way into the country legally. That is not saying that blanket amnesty or an open border policy should be endorsed. However, a change in tone (the anti-immigrant tone that comes from the GOP is downright hateful) coupled with making it an economic issue could turn into a win for the GOP. Reward immigrants who work hard to make America better with citizenship and America gets stronger.

It is not difficult and it is not a wholesale change in principles the GOP needs. It is just applying the GOP’s principles to women, gays and minorities, rather than the homogenous group of people at the 2012 Republican National Convention. That, coupled with a change in the harsh tone, will bring more people under the unraveling tent that is the GOP.

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  • Someday the Democrat Party will rebrand itself into a party of individual freedom and civic responsibility, instead of the party of victims and takers, but that will be only after a national default and implosion and infighting. The Democrat Party will be the party of the the 1790's, then. I might add, so will the Republicans, who have never gained anything thing from being "Democrat Lite".

    Look at the love garnered by Ronald Reagan for the 1983 Amnesty by Latino voters: nada. It was forgotten by the Latino voter with the next --- and even more compassionate Republican candidate -- George Herbert Walker Bush, where the majority of the vote went to the Democrat.

    Let's just stop telling the Republicans how to rebrand themselves, when most of those doing the telling have no interest in, and will never vote for, a Republican -- no matter how much the Elephant dresses as a Donkey.

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