RSS
The GOP's 'scathing self-analysis' and drastic rebranding plan
The Republican Party conducts an autopsy on its 2012 election setbacks. The verdict? Voters think the GOP is "scary"
The RNC plans to spend $10 million rebranding the party.
The RNC plans to spend $10 million rebranding the party. Win McNamee/Getty Images
O

n Monday, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus unveiled a 98-page "autopsy" of the GOP's 2012 election failures, saying the party needs to change its ways if it wants to do better the next time voters go to the polls. The review includes several recommended fixes, from embracing immigration reform to shortening the GOP primary process to improving the party's campaign ground game. One of the GOP's biggest problems, Priebus says, is that "we've done a really lousy job of branding and marketing who we are." As a result, Priebus says, many voters think Republicans are "scary" and "out of touch." To improve the party's image, the RNC plans to spend $10 million on a rebranding effort to reach out to minority voters.

This is a pretty "scathing self-analysis," says Neil King Jr. at The Wall Street Journal. Page after page, the report "describes the party as ideologically ossified, unable to speak to a wider electorate, and increasingly seen as representing the rich and the old." The recommendations on turning the party around are drastic, too, notes Janet Shan at the Hinterland Gazette. And they could do the GOP some good, as long as it can keep a lid on the kind of outrageous comments that created Republicans' image problem in the first place.

This outreach is well needed but the party has to realize that they can't allow rogue voices to denigrate blacks, Asians, Latinos and women without the leadership disavowing such ugly and racist rhetoric. People like Rush Limbaugh, Donald Trump, Ted Nugent, Sarah Palin and Ann Coulter can’t be the standard-bearers for the party or their ambitious "Growth Opportunity Project" will be a joke. [Hinterland Gazette]

Many liberal commentators, however, scoff at the suggestion that the GOP's problem is as simple as bad branding. The GOP's real problem, says Georgia Logothetis at Daily Kos, is its "repulsively extreme" agenda. In that light, launching a campaign to spell out where the party stands is bound to do more harm than good.

On immigration, round 'em up. On gun control, shoot it up. On the poor, kick 'em down. On underwater homeowners, let 'em drown. On corporations, let them play. On the church in politics, let it have its way. On public schools, bleed them dry. On charters, give them a big slice of the pie. In campaigns, let the money rain. In office, block any policy that's sane... Let them spend millions developing ways to deliver their turn-back-the-clock message to more and more people over more and more mediums.

The Democrats couldn't ask for a better gift. [Daily Kos]

Of course, the GOP's internal review won't solve all of the party's problems right away, says John Fund at National Review. But it's still more than worthwhile to address "the need to restructure the presidential-primary process and better engage minority voters." And plenty of advisers think that the GOP would be wise to take a hard look at "the Republican political-consultant class," which collected millions in fees for scoring headlines while failing to deliver what the campaigns really needed — votes.

There is more than enough blame to go around for last November's defeats, but not enough solid discussion about which problems to tackle first. The RNC "autopsy" may be a good starting point for that crucial analysis. [National Review]

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami HeraldFox News, and ABC News.

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week