Here’s some good advice in the report, which only ends up raising more questions.
It is time for Republicans on the federal level to learn from successful Republicans on the state level. It is time to smartly change course, modernize the Party, and learn once again how to appeal to more people, including those who share some but not all of our conservative principles.
Ok, but which ones? Scott Walker, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, or Chris Christie? Or Nikki Haley or Susana Martinez? On page 11 the report basically answers “Yes.” It even puts Walker and Christie in the same bullet point. They’re two very different animals and they’re succeeding in blue states in similar, yet different, ways. The report doesn’t mention Perry in its section on governors, despite Texas being the nation’s job-creation engine during his tenure. It’s an interesting omission that says quite a bit about intraparty politics.
There are some good ideas in the report — fewer debates during the primary, for instance — and a surrender while advocating for reorganizing the primary. It calls for fewer caucuses (good) but would continue giving the current early states too much influence over the nomination process. The idea that Iowa and New Hampshire have more say over whom the GOP nominates than Florida, Oklahoma, and Texas is insane. Texan Bill Calhoun has long has some excellent ideas on GOP efforts to attract more minority voters and he deserves national funding and support.
If the RNC follows some of the recommendations of its report, it will essentially cede many policy battles to the Democrats at a time when the Democrats’ policies are threatening to wreck the country.What message will this send to the party’s grassroots? It looks to me like the people who put this report together are embarrassed to be associated with much of the GOP’s grassroots, and they find the Democrats’ left wing less embarrassing, so they’re moving toward them and away from conservatives. I’m not saying that they’re actually doing this, but they are giving that impression in parts of the report.
One important factor it mostly ignores is the importance of candidate quality. Candidates matter, a lot. Much more so than the consultants they hire and who came under fire during CPAC. Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock both cost the GOP seats, as did Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle before them. Two of those were Tea Party candidates, and two were establishment candidates. Two men, two women. Tea Partiers Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul have become the party’s new faces and leaders. They don’t all agree on all of the issues, but none of them are milquetoasts.The establishment’s preferred candidate against Rubio is now a Democrat. The same thing happened in Pennsylvania. The establishment’s record isn’t great, and the Tea Party’s isn’t perfect. But good, strong candidates who can clearly articulate conservative ideals tend to win, male or female, Tea Party or establishment. Marco Rubio is onto something when he says we don’t really need a new idea. What we need are better candidates who are consistent and can connect with voters and are, frankly, not idiots.
Mitt Romney was an establishment candidate, and he was also a poor candidate. Great fundraiser, nice man, excellent private-sector experience, but a poor candidate. He failed to follow up on his first debate victory and gave Obama a pass on Benghazi when he could have and should have pinned him. CNN’s Candy Crowley gave Obama a huge assist, but Romney ultimately could have won that moment. He didn’t. He also surrounded himself with poor personnel who advised him to stick to soft messaging that muddied the differences between himself and Obama. His top advisers didn’t even understand the media. A better candidate who made better personnel decisions and avoided mistakes while going bigger on the anti-Obama messaging could have won.
We’ll have better candidates available in 2016. What remains to be seen is what the party will do with, and to, them.