I’m not chiding Jindal here. The fact is, he may be the best governor in the nation. He is certainly in the top five. In his young life he has already accomplished more than the vast majority of us will accomplish in a lifetime.
The problems he describes are vast, as he acknowledges. The solutions are not easy. The real problem we face is that the American people may not be up to the challenge this time.
Twice now, a majority have chosen to elect a man who is not qualified for the presidency and whose ideas are proven failures. He won on excellent communications and iconography, not on his accomplishments. He ran away from his record, only to double down on it as many predicted he would once he was safely re-elected. Obama has shown the nation that not only is he incapable of uniting the nation, he is incapable of stepping outside his rigid ideology to understand the economics of the real world. Or, he understands them perfectly well and is choosing sabotage over reform. But the majority re-elected him anyway. Facing serious systemic fiscal problems, the American people had a choice between a man with a proven record of fixing such massive problems and man with a record of giving speeches and playing insult comic. The majority chose the latter. The mainstream media have fused themselves to his government and provide no adversarial check on his power. The majority of Americans are fine with this dangerous mix of media and power, and continue eating and drinking on the deck of our sinking national ship.
If the Republicans do not tell the American people about the massive problems we face, how can the Republicans ever hope to enact any remedy for those problems?
Jindal answers that “we should let the other side try to sell Washington’s ability to help the economy, while we promote the entrepreneur, the risk-taker, the self-employed woman who is one sale away from hiring her first employee.
“Let the Democrats sell the stale power of more federal programs, while we promote the rejuvenating power of new businesses.”
Most Americans have no entrepreneurial spirit and have no idea how wealth is created. Our schools eschew basics for politically correct studies that prepare no one for the real world. The participation rate just in the labor market is at a historic low. Welfare has pushed into the middle class in record numbers. The Democrats have sold the stale power of more federal programs, but unfortunately millions of Americans bought into it. This has fundamentally changed the American political landscape.
I’m not denouncing Jindal or the American people here. I am denouncing the Obama government for inheriting a bad temporary economic situation and making it so much worse and more permanent that it may be impossible to fix without us enduring very serious pain. Someone has to sound the alarm.
Later in the speech, Jindal outlines seven things the GOP must do going forward. They are:
- Stop looking backward, and show what a freer American can become going forward.
- Compete for every single vote.
- Reject identity politics, and get voters to like you by showing that you like them.
- Stop being the stupid party, defined by the likes of Akin and Mourdoch.
- Stop insulting the intelligence of voters, and stop dumbing down our ideas into soundbites and taglines.
- Quit “big,” stop supporting big business, big banks, etc. and clearly stand as a populist party.
- Focus on real people outside of Washington, not the lobbyists and government inside Washington.
These points are fine, but some miss the mark in our unserious, TMZ, Kim Kardashian, Manti Te’o-obsessed age. The left takes advantage of identity politics to create tribes that are loyal to it and now vote purely based on gender and skin color. That’s simply a fact. It’s also a fact that most on the left care far less about the outcome of a policy than the party or intentions behind it. The fact that gun-control laws do not stop gun violence, for instance, makes no difference in their zeal to push more gun-control laws. The fact that that the Affordable Care Act is not really about health care and does not make it more affordable does not matter to them at all. They meant well, or they got more of the power they sought. Meanwhile the right divides itself and often one faction is trying to kick another out of the overall movement. The media will depict the GOP as the stupid party no matter what. If they did it to Ronald Reagan, and they did, they will do it to Bobby Jindal and every other Republican given less than half a chance. The task is to be ready for it and fight it effectively. As for point five, it’s simply a fact that it’s nearly impossible to get most people to care about serious issues. Ideas have to be distilled to soundbites so they have a chance of cutting through the noise and motivating a response. That’s not always “dumbing down;” often it’s sharpening up. A five-second quip or tweet that’s on target can cut through and win an argument when a more detailed answer can cause audiences to zone out. I’m saying that we need both, the details and the sharp summaries, to have any chance of getting through.
But Jindal is right in the main: The Republicans have to find ways to fight Washington while not becoming creatures of Washington. We need to become smarter in how we handle the hostile media. We need to encourage Americans to expect less from government and more from themselves.
The question is, are we too far gone for such a message to resonate?