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A Failure to Communicate: The GOP's Public Relations Debacle

It's "Merry Xmas, not" for Republicans, conservatives, libertarians and Tea Partiers, etc. Losing the November election was bad enough, but it’s gotten worse since, considerably worse.

The party, and consequentially its ideas, is in freefall.

As of last week, 57 percent approve and 42 percent disapprove of Barack Obama’s performance as president. Pretty soon he’ll be as popular as Roosevelt -- or Reagan.

What is the cause of this debacle? Largely this: Republicans, conservatives… the whole list above… do not know how to talk to the broad spectrum of the American people outside their choir.

Republicans are not just bad at public relations. They’re disastrous at it.

With rare exceptions, this goes for the entire panoply of the right – from elected officials to party leaders to pundits and talk show hosts to think tank intellectuals from the most extreme conservatives to the most losey-goosey of so-called RINOs. No difference.

What we have here in the immortal words of Cool Hand Luke’s Strother Martin is a “failure to communicate.”

And this failure has occurred at the very time America has over 8 percent unemployment and is over 16 trillion in debt. Go figure. You would think a party of economic austerity, or even semi-austerity, would be more popular than ever.

Failure to communicate, indeed.

Unfortunately, fixing this public relations deficit is not going to be easy. It's too entrenched and too long-standing. The Republican brand is tarnished, maybe even hopelessly so, certainly beyond what should be acceptable to anyone.

The kneejerk response of many is to go back to pure conservative principles -- a kind of Maoist ideological purge.

If only.

Consider this: the word conservative itself may be a large part of the problem. Few young people want to identify with it, even when the ideas and values inherent in the ideology make perfect sense to them, even when they are already living by those values.