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.