Shortly after President Obama won a resounding victory for reelection in 2012, the Republican National Committee stowed away to analyze what they did so terribly wrong that they lost an election they thought would be a cakewalk. They emerged with a document that they called an “autopsy” of the campaign that included their missteps and a prescription for future success.
Most of the recommendations revolved around improving messaging and outreach to voter blocs that are critical to any winning campaign: women, African-Americans, Latinos, seniors, and youth. The autopsy acknowledged that Republicans had a terrible image with these voters and the party would need to improve it significantly if they ever hoped to win again.
With their new mandate in hand, the GOP set out to ignore everything that it advised. Instead of reaching out to neglected voters, Republicans doubled down on alienating them. They pursued the same policies that drove voters away in the first place and continued to find new methods of garnering their distrust. For instance, they pushed for voter ID laws that disenfranchise minorities, seniors and students, in an effort to prevent election fraud that doesn’t exist. They also enacted laws that negatively impact reproductive health care for women, including forced vaginal probes and restricting access to birth control and cancer screenings. And supporting cops who murder unarmed black teenagers, while opposing care for immigrant children, doesn’t do much to polish their reputation in minority communities.
So what does the Republican Party do after they have abandoned their own solutions? They develop another set of solutions and try to peddle that to skeptical voters. The new program has a name straight out of propaganda 101: Principles For American Renewal. And so as not to be accused of just jotting down the same top ten list of pandering platitudes, the GOP PR team came up with eleven pandering platitudes. Let’s take a look at the GOP’s set of principles:
- CONSTITUTION: Our Constitution should be preserved, valued and honored.
Except when it prohibits forced Christianity or enables same-sex marriage or doesn’t recognize that corporations are people.
- ECONOMY: We need to start growing America’s economy instead of Washington’s economy so that working Americans see better wages and more opportunity.
Unless that means raising the minimum wage or asking the wealthy to pay their fair share in taxes or creating jobs in vital infrastructure rebuilding. And never mind that the past six years has seen record growth in corporate profits and reduction in unemployment.
- BUDGET: We need to pass a Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, make government more efficient, and leave the next generation with opportunity, not debt.
Even though balanced budgets are a ridiculous notion that no successful business would ever consider, and our current debt was the result of the Bush tax cuts and two off-the-books wars. And please forget that Obama has cut the deficit by more than half.
- HEALTH CARE: We need to start over with real healthcare reform that puts patients and their doctors in charge, not unelected bureaucrats in Washington.
Under ObamaCare patients and doctors are still in charge, not unelected insurance adjusters. It’s just that now people can afford insurance so they can see their doctors. By the way, where is that GOP health care plan (other than repealing ObamaCare)?
- VETERANS: Our veterans have earned our respect and gratitude, and no veteran should have to wait in line for months or years just to see a doctor.
But we’ll still vote against funding the V.A., even while we vote for new wars that create more veterans who need health care. Plus, we won’t help poor, homeless vets get housing or food.
- SECURITY: Keeping America safe and strong requires a strong military, growing the economy, energy independence, and secure borders.
And since each of these things has increased by leaps and bounds in the past six years, how does the GOP opposition to the policies that resulted in that progress help, and what are their alternatives? They don’t say.
- EDUCATION: Every child should have an equal opportunity to get a great education; no parent should be forced to send their child to a failing school.
In other words, we will refuse to sufficiently fund public education and parents will have an equal opportunity to homeschool their kids or pay for private school if they can afford it.
- POVERTY: The best anti-poverty program is a strong family and a good job, so our focus should be on getting people out of poverty by lifting up all people and helping them find work.
And making them belong to the sort of families that we approve of, and working for wages that are insufficient to raise them out of poverty. And while they are trying to get back on their feet, the moochers will get no financial support or assistance with food or education.
- VALUES: Our country should value the traditions of family, life, religious liberty, and hard work.
Unless the family has two mommies, or the religion is not sanctioned by Pat Robertson, or the workers demand fair treatment and living wages.
- ENERGY: We should make America energy independent by encouraging investment in domestic energy, lowering prices, and creating jobs at home.
Unless that energy is produced by the sun or wind. And God forbid that we transition away from carbon-based fuels that pollute our air and water and exacerbate the disastrous effects of Climate Change.
- IMMIGRATION: We need an immigration system that secures our borders, upholds the law, and boosts our economy.
This policy seems to have left something out: Immigrants. It also ignores the reality that our society relies on immigration and is already benefiting from it.
The Republicans should be commended for coming up with the most vacant and substanceless list of “principles” ever devised. It studiously avoids taking a position on any issue or offering a specific policy that can be debated and enacted. In short, it declares that they are in favor of the Constitution and opposed to poverty. How courageous. in addition, it leaves out some important matters entirely, such as crime, the environment, campaign finance reform, and foreign policy.
It is telling that the GOP has delivered this heap of empty rhetoric just one month before the midterms. They are struggling to find a unified campaign theme that will nationalize the election. They once thought that ObamaCare would serve that function. In fact, just last February the RNC’s chairman, Reince Priebus, was so certain of that that he said…
“I think it’s going to be Obamacare all the time between now and November 5. If you ask me what day it is, I’m going to tell you it’s Obamacare. If you want to know what I want in my coffee, I’m going to tell you Obamacare. I’m going to talk about Obamacare all the time because I think it’s the No. 1 issue.”
He has barely mentioned it since then. Part of the reason for that may be that just about every metric for measuring the success of ObamaCare has surpassed expectations. Even Republican enrollees have reported being overwhelmingly satisfied. And thus we have the roll-out of yet another re-branding scheme that fails to recognize that the fundamental problems the party is experiencing are rooted in their policies, not their messaging. Here is a more accurate illustration of the Republican Party’s true brand: