Thursday, June 24, 2010

A New Republican Brand

The “O” in GOP stands for “Old.” So does the Republican brand. I recommend retiring the GOP brand and the absurd Elephant logo. Put them both on display either in the Smithsonian in D.C. or in every Applebee’s nationwide. I can venerate the GOP for what it once was in my father’s time. But today the brand is as old time religion, significant to a former time, just not this time. It is in this vacuum created by a paucity of morality, principle and credible spokespeople that neo-bigotism grows as the political celebrities vie for money.

The mission is to create a Republican brand for this century. By the way, it’s going to cost a lot of money, so much money that when Forbes reports it, even Democrats will blush. But I digress. Here is the short version of what the Republican Party has to grip in order to contend and win.

This is the best of times to be a Republican.

As the removed-from-power party, they have the luxury of time. Besides, there is a presidential precedent. It took Richard Nixon six years to reinvent the Nixon brand that worked for his presidential quest. Having said that, which is as far as I want to go with Nixon, here are a few things that require immediate attention.

Replace Michael Steele with a real executive the caliber of a Timothy Geithner.

For Steele to remain is an example of the elite hypocrisy the old brand allowed. It is the same kind of sleaze that spent money on porno websites to advertise McCain-Palin in the 2008 campaign. It is not the case that he cannot be touched because he is black. Incompetence knows no race, color, creed, gender or orientation. If being a party of business means something, the party needs to behave like a business. Steele’s chairmanship demonstrates that the party has an incompetent board of directors who are not looking out after the best interest of its stock holders. To allow for Steele’s lack of competence in his position reflects poor governance. So while we are at it, the board needs to be replaced as well.

Co-opt progressivism by reclaiming it as a Republican platform piece.

Then the party can hearken to Theodore Roosevelt, a progressive and environmentalist. Conservation of energy and air and water benefits society but more importantly gives the renewed Republican brand at least a patina of respectable care taking responsibility. It will take practice and courage.

Distance the new brand from Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh.

They are unelected, thus unofficial, as is anything associated with the Tea Party. Decry those people as the seditious bigots that they are. They may have reach and audience, but as spokespeople they lack substance. It must be hard to be both phony and shallow. They are highly paid political celebrities who are famous for being famous and that is all there is. They do not stand for anything. They represent only themselves. An audience is not a constituency.

Deride the theme of “take the country back.”

That piece of rube rhetoric can have more than one connotation. Does it mean taking the country back to another time, such as before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as floated by Rand Paul? I ask because there is not anyone or anything from which to take the country back. Neither the Congress nor President is a foreign occupier of our government. Tell the country of the the Tea Party, “We understand that you’re pissed off because you and your folks lost the most important election of our time big time. It must suck to be you.” And, oh by the way, “No, you are not prepared to die for your country.” Dress up in a military uniform all you want. It does not make you a soldier.

Distance the new brand from the Bush administration.

Dick Cheney and Karl Rove in particular ruined the GOP brand at home and abroad. To some extent getting over Bush et al will be kind of like going through a rehab-program -- admitting powerlessness over stupidity and greed and then making amends to everyone you hurt, like the American people. Seeking some forgiveness is no longer an option. Repudiation is in order, such as bringing criminal charges against Bush, Cheney and Rove. Charge them with the treason, high crimes and misdemeanors that could have been brought to impeachment.

Remember, W has an MBA.

The failure of the GOP brand allows for the candidacies of people who are woefully ill-equipped to perform any useful legislating. California millionaires Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina are examples. A Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is responsible to a Board of Directors for the Return on Investment (ROI) to the stockholders. As business people, neither Whitman nor Fiorina performed well as a CEO because under their stewardships each company lost significant value. They invest in running for public office because they cannot get hired in a private office as a CEO anywhere else. Nevada’s Sharron Angle at least has 6 years legislative experience as a Republican member of the Nevada Assembly. While that barely qualifies her candidacy, her policy positions are preposterous.

Get some serious policy.

Griping about everything the president does or doesn’t do is no substitute for a lack of policy on issues such as civil rights, ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and immigration reform. The Rovians drove Hispanics and Blacks from the party to appeal to the white Christian right. To redefine the Republican constituency will require courage and conciliation. It will have to for the new brand to become inclusionary, to end obstructionism and to become a loyal opposition.

Don’t scrimp.

Hire a top dollar advertising agency for a new logo. The party will have to live with it for a century or so.

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