Posted by: Patrick | October 30, 2008

The GOP: A Brand Gone Awry

Last night I attended a regularly scheduled dinner of GOP insiders here in Atlanta with one of the top strategists of the 1994 GOP US House Revolution.  I was the first to ask a question after his short presentation that I knew was on the mind of most of the people in the room as well as many other Republicans and center-right Independents.  And that question was “What in the Hell happened” between the pivotal reform minded Contract with America that helped to sweep in Republican control of Congress in 1994 and now?  Not surprisingly, the whole room exhaled.

It took the evening’s speaker not even a second to say “absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

So what are ideologically brand loyal Republicans to do??  If leaders of the GOP can’t maintain fidelity to conservative principles of personal responsibility and limited but effective governance, what’s the purpose of the brand?  Are we to become center-right Independents too and evaluate every election on a race by race basis?  Phooey!  I hope not!

What’s needed in short order in the political consumer marketplace are clear intellectual and emotional definitions of what the GOP stands for.  Going forward, the first and central brand emotion that the GOP needs to connect with voters on in my opinion is inclusiveness.  Inclusiveness by race, gender, socio-economic class, religion, et al.  Conservatism as a governing paradigm can no longer be the purview (percieved or real) of the white male affluent class.  That also means coming up with an urban cities governing policy so we don’t abdicate this diverse and growing class of voters to corrupt Democratic machinery.

In modern day politics, if voters don’t feel included or like they can relate to the message and the messenger, then they just as well stay home or vote for the person who seems more relatable in spite of the message.

I guess that means I’ll have to get used to saying President Obama for at least the next four years.



  1. I couldn’t agree more. The platform from the convention wasn’t bad, but there needs to be more vision and much more marketing of the message.

  2. P-
    I agree with you about what the Republican Party should be aiming for. But I doubt that you will find that level of inclusiveness among the GOP. My sense is that the GOP is controlled/heavily influenced by a set of “so called” Christians, for whom that level of inclusiveness is treathening. I call them “so called” Christians because it seems that the people who are the most “conservative” Christians are those who seem not to understand the true ethos of Christianity, vis-a-vis the teachings and practices of Jesus Christ. How ironic! I encourage you to keep pushing this envelop.

    Derrick Liburd

  3. Ice D and Derrick,

    Thanks for taking the time to comment. As I think both of you would agree, the party doesn’t need less or diminished Faith-group involvement. I believe to some degree they are the moral heart and soul of our Party as it relates to the Sanctity of Life, marriage, stem cell research, et al.

    I do believe, however, that we need to extend the inclusion dimensions of the Party in the same way Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church has an open tent but still maintains a core orthodoxy.

    In the end, we can’t just be about lower taxes and smaller government without some moral and ethical point of view that connects more deeply with voters. Take a look at my next blog entry on Compassionate Conservatism.

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