I just wasted 30 minutes of my life skimming through the GOP’s 100 page “Growth and Opportunity Project” report. And I can say definitively that it is one of the absolute most worthless documents ever created. I had hoped against hope that there would actually be some semblance of “let’s really look in the mirror here and make some changes in the way we do things,” but little of what I found was even mildly heartening. Especially knowing that the GOP won’t actually change in any meaningful way, despite any boring-as-milk reports they may issue. The majority of the document basically says, “Hey, let’s go after those people voting that didn’t vote for us (gays, blacks, Hispanics), and train people to use the internet. Also let’s go on the Daily Show and MTV.”
While starting out somewhat strongly by stating that:
At our core, Republicans have comfortably remained the Party of Reagan without figuring out what comes next.
The Republican Party needs to stop talking to itself. We have become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly we have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with us on every issue. Instead of driving around in circles on an ideological cul-de-sac, we need a Party whose brand of conservatism invites and inspires new people to visit us. We need to remain America’s conservative alternative to big-government, redistribution-to-extremes liberalism, while building
a route into our Party that a non-traditional Republican will want to travel.
However, from there it goes straight downhill. There are no actual policy recommendations – only some vague hints that Republicans have to be less close minded and rigid. There is very little in the way of language that would appeal to a liberty-minded individual, or that is indicative of any substantive change in a positive direction as far as accepting libertarian views, and the adoption of true small government and a free market system. In fact, there is far more in the pages that emphasize how both Democrats and Republicans continue to grow into one giant party with little to discern them. If you had a blind test where you had to discern what party this statement came from, what would you guess?
But if we are going to grow as a Party, our policies and actions must take into account that the middle class has struggled mightily and that far too many of our citizens live in poverty. To people who are flat on their back, unemployed or disabled and in need of help, they do not care if the help comes from the private sector or the government — they just want help.
Naturally, virtually all of us would guess “Democrat,” and we’d all be wrong – for this is the new, tender GOP.
They also make it a point to mention they they will now be going after Big Business as well:
We have to blow the whistle at corporate malfeasance and attack corporate welfare. We should speak out when a company liquidates itself and its executives receive bonuses but rank-and-file workers are left unemployed. We should speak out when CEOs receive tens of millions of dollars in retirement packages but middle-class workers have not had a meaningful raise in years.
That’s all well and good – corporations who break the law should be held accountable. However, what a company pays its workers is its own business and should not fall under the purview of the government.
The bright spots in the document came in the “Friends and Allies” section, in which some statements are made (and which will surely fall on deaf ears) calling for the party to accept that the Neocons in charge of the party will also be the death of the party. That growth will come from grassroots organizations, and from outside thinkers who want to change the party and take it away from it’s current position.
8. Bottom-Up, not Top-Down
With regard to organization, the RNC, campaigns and our friends and allies have become too Washington-centric and top-down oriented. The best campaigns and organizations hire senior people and empower them at the state and local level. We need to grow the Republican Party from the ground up, not from the top down. This grassroots plan must be hinged with our political and social media plan.
Sounds like they noticed the campaign of one Ron Paul, no?
12. Groupthink Is a Loser
Peggy Noonan recently wrote about how our Party has stifled debate and how groupthink has taken over. She quoted Joe Scarborough saying, “Everybody’s afraid to talk.” She then related that in 1994 the Republican Party “was alive with ideas: John Kasich on the budget, Jack Kemp on taxes, John Engler on welfare reform, Tommy Thompson on crime control. This was the bubble and fizz of a movement at its height.” Third-party groups that promote purity are hurting our electoral prospects. As Noonan quoted Scarborough again, “The national conversation is more constricted, with radio stars, websites and magazines functioning as unofficial arbiters and limiters of domestic and foreign policy debate.” Our friends and allies are in a strong position to help promote the Party’s ideas and encourage a diversity of ideas and solutions consistent with our core principles.
1. Our friends and allies must realize that the Party is at its best as the Party of ideas, and healthy debate of those ideas is fundamentally good for the Republican Party.
To enact this would quite literally go against everything we have seen from the Republican Party thus far. As we all recall, the GOP went out of its way to stifle and exclude alternate viewpoints from debate, mock Ron Paul at every opportunity, hijack national conventions (while altering laws to do so), and strongarm Ron Paul supporters at live events. The GOP also managed to hijack the Tea Party, which began under influence from Ron Paul initially before falling somehow to the Sarah Palins of the world.
It’s interesting to see this document emphasize accepting debate and not crushing any voice that goes against the mainstream groupthink, but until quite a few of the old guard die off in the coming decade, there is still a very tall hill to climb before libertarians will have a voice that is truly acknowledged.