The PJ Tatler

What Do You Do with a Broken Party?

In a lengthy column today — but I do suggest you Read the Whole Thing™ — Liz Mair identifies the five things wrong with the GOP today:

First, a lot of bad candidates have been fielded, and a lot of crappy campaigns have been run. And no, I don’t just mean that candidate whose name immediately popped into your head there.

Second, and tied in with this, we have too many less-than-cutting-edge and insufficiently creative and/or out-of-date consultants making a lot of money off of said crappy campaigns.

Third, our technology sucks in comparison to what Democrats have.

Fourth, growing portions of the electorate—Hispanic-Americans and Asian-Americans—either loathe us or just don’t like us.

Fifth, the party seems to have forgotten that it’s supposed to stand for something—by which I mean actual principles of some sort, and not just, say, the general bumper sticker concept that “OBAMA = BAD.”

Let’s tackle these in the same order Liz did, because I think there’s a logic to how she’s organized her (totally valid) complaints.

• The first and most obvious problem is of course the candidates. In politics, it’s said the “personnel is policy.” That is, no matter what an executive says he might do, the people he appoints to do the doing are the real test. You can talk like Teddy Roosevelt, but it won’t matter if you appoint Chuck Hagel. Similarly, the candidates a party fields are the party. They’re the ones voters see on the news and on their ballots. So you can’t nominate a Todd Akin while claiming you’re not the Stupid Party any more, and you can’t nominate Christine O’Donnell while telling everyone you’re the voice of sanity. There’s either something wrong with the GOP nominating process or with the candidates it attracts. Or both. This isn’t an intractable problem, but it’s one on which the GOP rank and file need to do some very deep soul-searching.

• Solving the consultant problem is easy: Stop hiring expensive losers. Hire young, hire hungry. Let Karl Rove go back to head-counting in strategic Ohio counties on his own time.

• The tech problem is no different, really, than the consultant problem. The solution is the same, too: Hire young, hire hungry.

The last two items are intertwined to such a degree that they might just be two sides of the same coin.

• Why do America’s fastest-growing minority groups have such disdain for the GOP? Part of the reason is self-inflicted. There is a small-but-vocal anti-immigrant wing of the party. Immigrants — unexpectedly! — are turned off. Hispanics especially so, since the worrisome border is the one we share with our Spanish-speaking neighbors in Mexico. It becomes very easy for the Democrats to paint the entire party as secretly (or not-so-secretly) racist. That the Democrats have done so with such effectiveness shouldn’t surprise anyone who has watched the Left play its identity-politics game. Immigrants and minorities dovetail very nicely into one democratically delivered verdict: The GOP hates us.

• Liz is dead-on right about the bumper-sticker level Obama hate. I’m not saying the feeling isn’t without cause, but it fails as tool for winning elections. I know we like to say the race card has been overplayed, but that just isn’t true. The O-hate also dovetails nicely into the “GOP hates us” meme. But in the absence of fighting for principles, there’s no way for Republicans to battle that meme.

There’s nothing anti-immigrant or anti-Asian or anti-anybody about the things the Republican Party is supposed to stand for. Small-government is not bad for Hispanics. Low taxes don’t hurt the Vietnamese. Cutting regulations never stopped anyone from pursuing their own happiness. Nobody ever went broke paying for their own condoms. I think.

But the GOP hasn’t stood for these things, not effectively anyway, for a quarter century now. And unlike the Democrats, they don’t have a century of experience with winning elections via dependency and division. And that’s why Republicans are so cringe-worthy when they try to act like Democrats.

And a party that stands and fights effectively for positive values, becomes much more immune to the crazies and the idiots who can win primaries but inevitably lose elections.

Republicans have about a year to figure this stuff out, if they want to make progress in 2014. And if they can’t figure it out in three years, I’d like to introduce you to Madam President Clinton, and reintroduce you to Madam Speaker Pelosi. Together with Still Majority Leader Reid, they’ll make sure the next four years are just as bad as the previous eight.