Recently, the Republican National Committee put together a report detailing the latest in their 2012 election misadventures. Despite the fact the this report was filled with numerous facts and figures, the GOP Growth and Opportunity Project still seemed to not only miss the actual root of the GOP problem but also its trunk, stems and leaves. So let's dig in.
The henceforth nicknamed "GOP-GOP Report" is an almost 100 page report filled with...well, interesting analysis would be a kind way to put it. Most of it is so vapid and obvious you wonder how people didn't know such basic information. Then again, these are the same people that didn't like the actual polling numbers back in 2012 so they made up their own. One of the early headings in the report is entitled: America Looks Different. Here are two quick examples from that section's recommendations:
If we want ethnic minority voters to support Republicans, we have to engage them, and show our sincerity.First of all, how is it possible to not understand the growing numbers of non-white people in America? America looks different? You don't say! Considering the majority-minority trend has been well-documented and up front for at least 20 years, this should not be news in 2013. Moving on to recommendations, after the stunning discovery that there sure are plenty of non-white people around, they've come up with a similarly incredible plan. They should -- gasp -- actively engage with these non-white people. How to achieve this? As the GOP-GOP writers say, they should strive to "be inclusive." That's all well and good, but I don't know how a party whose recent political history (let's say from LBJ till now) has been anti-immigrant, anti-woman, and anti-gay will just decide to be more inclusive now that it's glaringly demographically necessary. After decades of driving down the wrong side of the demographic road, that shift deserves more than a catchphrase.
When it comes to social issues, the Party must in act and deed be inclusive and welcoming. If we are not, we will limit our ability to attract young people and others, including many women, who agree with us on some but not all issues.
We'll get deeper into the "too little, too late" litany later. The point is, the RNC seems to think this is a communications issue. That's definitely part of it. But how they talk about their views is only the tip of the iceberg. The heart of the problem lies with the policies themselves, but what the GOP-GOP wants to focus on is pure window dressing. In the section entitled Demographic Partners, there's an intensive breakdown of the 2012 election and how badly the GOP did with groups like African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and women. Each group has a section with its own statistics and recommendations. Now what the organization should be doing is highlighting how specific Republican policies could positively affect each group (ProTip: in a fact-based reality, that's nigh impossible). But perhaps sensing the challenges on the substance front, that's not what they did. Here's the number one recommendation for each and every ethnic constituency. The emphasis is all mine.
The RNC should hire Hispanic communications directors and political directors for key states and communities across the country.Asians and Pacific Islanders
The RNC should hire APA communications directors and political directors for key states and communities across the country.African-Americans
The RNC should hire African American communications directors and political directors for key states and communities across the country.See the problem? First, let's take a moment to relish the true irony of a party as hostile as the modern-day GOP to the very idea of affirmative action. Imagine hiring people based solely on the basis of race which affirmative action doesn't even do. Moving right along. The plan, as it were, is to get some of those people to talk to them. And that's fine if all you want is window dressing. It's not without import. But it's nowhere near what's most important. You can't just have brown people giving out the same old Republican talking points. It doesn't matter how many demographic check-boxes I have in common with random campaign surrogate. This is what we can call the Fallacy of Tokenism: the mere fact that you and I share an ethnic or racial background is not going to make me vote for you. If trickle-down economics and shredding the social safety net are all they're bringing to the table, I don't care if they're Blatinos of Costa Rican ancestry currently working in healthcare, exactly like myself. It's the message and the substance, not this weird "look how much we can look like you" personnel change.
Speaking of messages, the party as a whole still seems intent on crying about the whole War on Women thing. Again.
Republicans should develop a more aggressive response to Democrat rhetoric regarding a so-called “war on women.” In 2012, the Republican response to this attack was muddled, and too often the attack went undefended altogether. We need to actively combat this, better prepare our surrogates, and not stand idly by while the Democrats pigeonhole us using false attacks. There are plenty of liberal policies that negatively impact women, and it is incumbent upon the party to expose those and relentlessly attack Democrats using that framework.I don't want to rehash the whole Republicans being upset because a clever phrase was attached to all of their anti-women policies. Mostly because I've already chronicled that in the War on Women and What's next for Republicans. But I will briefly say that threatening a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood funding, enacting a record number of abortion restrictions on the state level in the last few years, making a point of voting against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, voting for personhood bills which would make birth control illegal, having two Senate candidates talking about "legitimate rape" and on and on don't make for a great track record with women who are even marginally interested in retaining legal control over their bodies, careers, families and lives.
There's a lot that can be said about the record I chronicled above. But the "War on Women" moniker fits it beautifully. Complaining that you don't like the nickname that aptly describes your recent legislative history is not going to erase the track record that brought it into being. Having better policies on those issues would be ideal. Failing that, acknowledging that you should stop would be nice. But you've chosen the third path which indicates you don't really understand the problem at all. That leads us to this little nugget of gold:
Republicans need to talk about people and families, not just numbers and statistics. Female voters want to hear the facts; many of them run the economies of their homes and understand economics better than the men in their families. But they are also the caregivers or their families. Women need to hear what our motive is — why it is that we want to create a better future or our families and how our policies will affect the live so their loved ones. Those are things that cannot be communicated well in graphs and charts* — and we need to do a better job communicating why our policies are better, while using female spokespeople to do it.Lord! You know it wouldn't be a Republican report if the didn't blatantly condescend to the people they are supposedly trying to woo. So females want to hear facts (hurray, just like men), but they're also caregivers who won't connect to charts and graphs (don't you worry your pretty head about it). I guess I should give them credit for actually trying to craft a message that spells out how their policies might work for this particular constituency, but then even that small nugget was irreparably compromised by the tone of the rest of their approach, not to mention the same mistaken assumption that this message, while potentially effective, would only work with female surrogates.
In the 2008 Vice Presidential Debate, Joe Biden said " If you don’t understand what the cause is, it’s virtually impossible to come up with a solution." At that time, Uncle Joe was referring to Sarah Palin regarding global warming, but it's an apt current description of the Republican party. They have almost no idea of what the real problems are. You can talk all you want about being inclusive, but your actual policies say otherwise. It's not about talking about inclusion or how your policies are supposed better for women. It's about policy. It's about legislation. So far, their "best" solutions are all about internal processes (shortening the debate schedule for the primaries) or superficial (let's get non-white people to be on TV) rather than truly embracing modernity. And until they figure that out, I imagine that their election-year results are going to be more of the same.
*Emphasis added to give this fine, pure-grade sexist condescension the recognition that it deserves.