Rand Paul Is Right. The GOP’s Brand Sucks, But That’s Only Part Of The Problem

Rebranding alone isn't going to fix what's causing the GOP to lose ground among a whole host of demographic groups.

U.S. Senate Members Hold Inaugural Tea Party Caucus Meeting

Visiting a predominantly African-American neighborhood in Detroit last week, Rand Paul acknowledged a truth that you won’t hear many partisans endorse this close to an important election:

DETROIT — Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) acknowledged Wednesday a problem that many Republicans admit only privately: their party brand “sucks.”

The weakness, Paul added, is particularly serious when it comes to appealing to black voters.

“Remember Domino’s Pizza? They admitted, ‘Hey, our pizza crust sucks.’ The Republican Party brand sucks and so people don’t want to be a Republican and for 80 years, African-Americans have had nothing to do with Republicans,” he said.

“Why? Because of a perception,” he said. “The problem is the perception is that no one in the Republican Party cares.”

Paul made his remarks at a GOP field office in Sherwood Forest, a predominantly middle-class African-American neighborhood.

For some time, he has been trying to shift perceptions by repeatedly speaking to African-American audiences and touting his proposals to reform the criminal justice program and rebuild blighted inner city neighborhoods.

“We’re also fighting 40 years of us doing a crappy job, of Republicans not trying at all for 40 years, so it’s a lot of overcoming,” he said. “You got to show up, you got to have something to say and really we just have to emphasize that we’re trying to do something different.”

Paul has sponsored six bills that seem especially relevant to concerns within the African-American community about issues such as the criminal justice system.

One of those bills is the Redeem Act, which would help juveniles with criminal records get jobs and avoid reoffending. It is co-sponsored by Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.), the Senate’s only black Democrat.

Another bill sponsored by Paul would give federal judges greater flexibility in sentencing. A third would eliminate the disparity between punishments for cocaine- and crack-related crimes.

“We look at incarceration and we see a disproportionate number of people of color in jail and then when we see statistics on drug use, it seems to be about equal among all the different races,” he said. “Blacks and Hispanics seem to populate our jails more.”

Paul said the country “went too far in the war on drugs.”

The Kentucky Senator also addressed this today on State of the Union:

Paul is, of course, absolutely correct and his comments are applicable to far more than just the Republican Party’s relationship, or to put it more correctly, lack of relationship, with the African-American community. You can say pretty much the same thing about how Republicans are perceived among other minority groups such as Latinos, among women voters, especially single women, among younger voters, and among more highly educated voters, which countless surveys over the years have shown are more likely to support Democratic rather than Republican candidates.  It can also said to be true about perceptions about the party in certain geographic areas, such as the Northeast, Pacific Northwest, and, of course, in the nation’s most populated state which, at one time, was an seemingly permanent Republican stronghold that gave us two Presidents between 1968 and 1980. In each of these cases, the GOP’s problems can be summed up in the fact that it is seen as being out of step with the concerns and values of particular communities and under the control of forces that seek to push a social agenda that is largely out of step with majority opinion.

As Reason’s Nick Gillespie notes, though, the problem Republicans face isn’t that they are perceived in a certain way, because if that were all their problems amounted to then it would be something that could arguably be fixed with better messaging and outreach. The problem for the GOP, he notes, is that there is a lot of truth in the perceptions that Senator Paul is talking about:

Actually, I’d argue that the deeper problem is that the perception is actually pretty accurate. With the notable exception of school choice, the typical Republican politician doesn’t spend a lot of time talking about public policies that would have a particularly positive affect on black communities. Some of that is understandable, given that blacks overwhelmingly vote for Democrats. But the failure to reach out to African Americans even rhetorically doesn’t just sour black voters on the Party of Lincoln, either. It alienates a lot of moderates and independents who are bothered by the way in which Republicans seem indifferent, if not hostile, to blacks. While white Republicans have only marginally higher results on indices of negative racial attitudes than white Democrats, they are also dealing with a particularly charged recent history that includes Nixon’s southern strategy, Barry Goldwater’s willingness to pander to neo-Confederates, and even his father’s racist newsletters. That sort of narrative isn’t going to rewrite itself.

For more than the past year, Paul has been engaging black audiences around the country. It’s precisely this sort of activity that helps make him “the most interesting man in politics” according to Time. And it’s not simply on this issue, of course. He’s actually pushing for new discussions on privacy, sentencing reform, military spending, domestic spending, foreign policy, and more.

In other words, he’s taking the future of his party seriously. After the 2012 election and Mitt Romney’s pathetic showing against the weakest sitting president in recent memory, that GOP promised a thorough, top-to-bottom overhaul of its messages and policies. Not much has really come of that effort. That’s partly understandable: The Dems and Obama have been so relentlessly bad on so many things, all the GOP has to do is keep quiet and they can win back the Senate. But when Rand Paul and others point out that the party’s limited-government rhetoric doesn’t match its spending record, foreign policy, or respect for privacy and civil liberties, you’d think the reformers were preaching Menshevism or something.

Republicans can bitch and moan about how unfair it all is and how no, really, they’ve never done anything wrong (even increasing spending under George W. Bush by 55 percent in real dollars). But the fact is that even big wins next week won’t change the party’s long-term problems connecting with voters. Self-identification as Republican hit a 25-year low among voters this year. That’s a sign of a “brand” that needs changing. Unsolicited advice: Try actually living up to your semi-libertarian rhetoric when it comes to reducing the size, scope, and spending of government at all levels. Even if you bank on the Democrats sucking all the time (not a bad gamble), people can always disaffiliate with either party out of disgust. Which is exactly what’s happening.

In the long run, if the GOP is going to address it’s problems with minority voters, young voters, and female voters, it is going to have to do more than hire new consultants to improve its image. It is going to need to take a long, hard look in the mirror and realize that the reason that certain segments of the population have a negative opinion of the party, and the reason why it performs so badly because of those voters, is because of the polices that it advocates, the people that purport to speak for it, and the alliances it makes with people who support things like denying equal protection of the laws to people based on something as irrelevant as sexual orientation, or asserting that religion should be a basis to allow people to claim that they are exempt from laws that apply to everyone even when what they’re doing doesn’t directly involve proselytizing or pursuing anything that could reasonably be called a religious mission. It’s going to have to address the fact that allowing its position on immigration reform to be dictated by a group of people who are a relatively small part of the electorate as a whole is harming its long term interests by turning off an entire ethnic group, in addition, of course, to preventing the nation from enacting needed reforms to immigration reforms that our in all of our interests. And, it’s need to recognize that dismissing the idea racial divisions are still a reality in some parts of the country is something that is of deep concern to African-Americans as well as others. Until it does that, all of the high priced ad men in the world aren’t going to change anything.

Of course, with the party expected to do well in the midterm elections in less than two days now, and the race for the party’s nomination for President set to begin in earnest as soon as those elections are concluded, the odds that they’ll address any of these issues is virtually nil. Senator Paul is right to bring these concerns up, and he’s done more than most Republicans to address issues of importance to these groups like sentencing reform and voting rights for felons. However, if the party is going to fix the perception problems he rightly raises, it’s going to take more than just one Senator from Kentucky to fix it.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Race and Politics, Tea Party, US Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. superdestroyer says:

    When Sen. Paul spoke at Howard University. I pointed out that whenever a Republican speaks to blacks is ends is disaster. Either the Repulbican is called a racist or blatant panders so much that they begin to sound like a Democrat. It seems that after being called a racist for his Howard University speech that Sen. Rand has decided to try the pandering approach.

    Also, believing that school choice will appeal to blacks is laughable. A massive number of blacks work for public schools or have relatives that work for public schools. Blacks will attack any policy that reduce the number of public sector jobs. Thus, the issue is a failure.

    There may be a way for conservative to appeal to educated whites and to Asians but there is no way that any form of conservative party is ever going to appeal to enough blacks or Latinos in the U.S. to make the appeal worth it.

  2. Mark says:

    “Nixon’s southern strategy, Barry Goldwater’s willingness to pander to neo-Confederates,..”

    This seems to skip right past Ronald Reagan, who embraced both.

  3. legion says:

    The problem for the GOP, he notes, is that there is a lot of truth in the perceptions that Senator Paul is talking about

    Dingdingding! Doug, you said something political that I totally 100% agree with. It’s not that the _packaging_ is bad, it’s that the _product_ sucks. For the last 30+ years, the GOP platform has been centered around several increasingly-unpopular tenets: give more money to rich people, overturn abortion, poor people are lazy, and anyone who isn’t a straight white Christian man is at best suspicious and at worst a criminal/terrorist. Ever since Reagan, those tenets have become more dogmatic within the GOP, even as more and more Americans move away from them. And I think it’s gotten to the point that the GOP genuinely _can’t_ change those tenets without literally ceasing to exist – the Tea Party die-hards would tear it apart from within. It’s only a matter of time before the only competent leaders/organizers and primary funders die off, leaving the fanatics, nut-jobs, and gullible idiots to inherit the small percentage of voters who will support them no matter what.

  4. legion says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Either the Repulbican is called a racist or blatant panders so much that they begin to sound like a Democrat.

    You forget the third possibility, where the Republican accidentally says how he or she truly feels about minorities, e.g. Santorum’s “Blah people”.

  5. Modulo Myself says:

    Angela Davis has a piece in today’s Guardian, some of which I agree with. Regardless, she mentions Assata Shakur being involved in a shootout with a cop on a Jersey turnpike, and makes it sound like Shakur was some sort of innocent caught in the wrong place. This is far from the truth–Shakur was a very intelligent and capable revolutionary who did not flinch from violence. But Davis completely blows through that fact.

    I point this out because this is how the GOP’s version of the world sounds like to people who are not in the bubble. Reagan, or Rand Paul, or any normal white person blathering on about America–you sound like Angela Davis talking about Assata Shakur, but very incredibly white, and talking about mundane stuff everybody with a pulse has been through.

  6. stonetools says:

    Of course, with the party expected to do well in the midterm elections in less than two days now, and the race for the party’s nomination for President set to begin in earnest as soon as those elections are concluded, the odds that they’ll address any of these issues is virtually nil.

    Indeed. They’re going to say , “We’re winning! If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” and are going to continue as before. The problem there is that they actually have to present a positive program now. All those House bills in favor of repealing abortion rights and abolishing Obamacare (including for Kentuckians) are going come flying out of the House now like bats from the belfry, and the Senate Republicans will have to deal with them.
    I watched McConnell do the response to the President’s Address today it was just laughable the way he was suddenly talking up “reasonable bipartisan compromise, ” and the need to pass laws, “even if we don’t get everything we want.” Obviously, he doesn’t want to be the Senate Majority Leader who delivers two years of nothing, then face a mostly blue state map in 2016.
    Most laughable of all-his appeal to the Democrats to “help him pass legislation we can both agree on.” Well, good luck with that.

  7. Ben says:

    I find it funny that we’re discussing the electability shortcomings of the Republican party a few days before they’re about to absolutely trounce the Democrats and take over the Senate with seats to spare. For all of superdestroyer’s squawking about a one-party state, it seems that the Democrats still can’t win an election anywhere in the south or mountain west, and they’re going to be the minority party in both houses of Congress. So what is this alleged electability problem really talking about? Is it all just about the Presidential election? Is that the only office that matters? It pisses me off because I’m a liberal who is not feeling overjoyed about what’s going to happen in a few days, and I wish more people would talk about the repeated failures of the Democratic party to win any office above dog catcher in Jesusland.

  8. Grewgills says:

    “Remember Domino’s Pizza? They admitted, ‘Hey, our pizza crust sucks.’ The Republican Party brand sucks and so people don’t want to be a Republican and for 80 years, African-Americans have had nothing to do with Republicans,” he said.
    “Why? Because of a perception,” he said. “The problem is the perception is that no one in the Republican Party cares.”

    Dominos’ problem was that their product sucked. The Republican party problem with African Americans, with minorities and single women in general, is that for these constituencies their product sucks. As much as Paul wants to make this about perceptions, it is about policies. His solution is akin to Dominos saying, people think our pizza crust sucks, we should try to convince people that they really do like our sucky crust.

  9. superdestroyer says:

    @stonetools:

    A more general question is why alienate people who actually do vote for you, middle class married whites, to pursue a group that does not vote for you, blacks and Latinos. How does passing comprehensive immigration reform and doubling the number of legal immgrants each year help those middle class whites? How does passing some form of “No Snitching” law help the people who currently vote for Republicans. Does a larger welfare state, an increased in crime, and more race-based social engineering really help the current Republican voters.

    And no, middle class whites are not the same as the current ethnic voters in the Democratic Party. If the Republicans try to screw over middle class white while believing that those white voters have no other place to go, the the party will quickly go out of business.

    It makes sense for Republican go to after whatever low hanging fruit that current votes against them. However, blacks are the highest hanging fruits that the Republicans can go after and are a total waste of time for any conservative.

  10. MBunge says:

    I just saw Chris Matthews on TV this morning essentially echoing McConnell, saying that a GOP run Senate could pass a bunch of bipartisan legislation. He also flatly blamed Obama’s leadership style for nothing getting done and completely skipped over the last 6 years of irresponsible and contemptible behavior by McConnell and the rest of the Republicans.

    If Matthews is saying it, you can bet it’s Beltway gospel and while people excoriate the Tea Partiers, are the delusions, pretentions and self-flattery of elites like Matthews any better?

    Mike

  11. superdestroyer says:

    @Ben:

    The Democrats are expect to hold the Senate seat in North Carolina and are competing for the seat in Georgia. However, the Republicans can still not win an election for dog catcher in California. If the Republicans are spending money in Georgia, North Carolina and are not competitve in Virginia, then the trend is for the Republicans to fade away. Even if the Republicans get to 51 seats in the Senate, they will definitely lose the majority in 2016. All of the long term trends are going for the Democrats. That is why the Democrats do not get excited about short term set backs.

  12. Siegfried Heydrich says:

    The GOP now has 2 years to show the public that they’re over teh Krazees, and teh Krazees are not going to like being gotten over. This is going to be a really nasty divorce, I think. Teh Krazee base has only one objective, and that’s to destroy Obama in any way they can. They hate government, and will be looking to tear it down while the RINOs want to build it back up in their image. This is going to be a major problem for the GOP.

    But if the GOP is going to show that they’re actually capable of governance, whether they take the Senate or not, they’re going to have to reach accommodations and compromise with the democrats and Obama. And that will set the base’s hair on fire. If the GOP doesn’t shed their base, or at least wean them off the hate meth they’re addicted to, their future is very bleak.

    The crazies are in all probability, about to be purged, and the party will suddenly develop a need to actually govern and legislate in order to rehabilitate themselves in the eyes of the sane constituencies if they want to survive. What Kansas has shown is that the Tea Party extremism is essentially un-American and is a miserable failure. When the reddest state in the country repudiates them, the GOP knows it’s in BIG trouble, their Senatorial successes notwithstanding.

    As soon as the midterms are over, the party doesn’t need to run against Obama any longer, they’ll have to change their ways. There very simply aren’t enough angry old white people out there to carry a national election, and the republicans know it. And without Obama to use as a bogeyman, well, the hate they need to keep the base really motivated will be sorely lacking.

    All those zany Tea Party have only one job left to do, and that’s to vote republican in this election, which (they hope) will be enough hand them the Senate. But as soon as that’s over and done with, they become a liability. An albatross around the GOP’s neck. Dead weight. And so the party is going to loudly and publicly repudiate them if they have any sense at all. They’re going to throw them out along with the rest of the useless trash from failed campaigns. They’re so . . . ’10, and the GOP is looking forward, towards ’16. Old fogeys like them are just not in favor any longer. If they don’t attract a younger and more diverse voter base, they’re dead and they know it. So it’s time to throw out the old, useless, failed trash

    The Tea Party caucus members in the House will get choice assignments on the Rat Catching, Paper Clip Counting, and Grease Trap Cleaning House committees, and you can bet Boehner will have a grin on his face as he hands out these assignments that would make the Grinch gulp in disbelief. Boehner and McConnell both despise the Tea Party base, and paybacks next congress are going to be a real beeyatch

    In short, all you Bagros? There’s a bus leaving town on November 5th. Be under it.

  13. Rafer Janders says:

    “Why? Because of a perception,” he said. “The problem is the perception is that no one in the Republican Party cares.”

    No, because of a reality. The problem is that the reality is that no one in the Republican Party cares.

  14. wr says:

    Gosh, maybe if Rand Paul wants to convince black people he cares about them, he should try to stop his party from passing laws making it more difficult for them to vote.

  15. Ben says:

    @superdestroyer:

    You’re right, I forgot about North Carolina. Georgia is done and buried, 538 has that one at 70% for Perdue right now. And I don’t get why people are counting Kansas as a Democrat pickup. Orman has already said he’s going to caucus with the majority party, which will be the Republicans. Iowa is flipping back red. The Democrats are pretty much giving back every single electoral gain they had in 2008.

  16. James Pearce says:

    Unsolicited advice: Try actually living up to your semi-libertarian rhetoric when it comes to reducing the size, scope, and spending of government at all levels.

    Further proof that Libertarians are perhaps a bit too naive for their own good. They are, perhaps, the only faction in American political life that actually believes the GOP stands for “reducing the size, scope, and spending of the government at all levels.” Conservatives know that only applies to certain things and is not some kind of over-arching principle, and liberals recognize it as the rhetorical BS that it is.

    Paul’s outreach efforts to the black community are worthy of praise, but they’re ultimately self-serving and hollow. It’s all about getting people to vote Republican, not necessarily about the Republican party serving people’s needs.

  17. stonetools says:

    @Ben:

    I wish more people would talk about the repeated failures of the Democratic party to win any office above dog catcher in Jesusland.

    Mary Landreiu began the conversation here,

    “I’ll be very, very honest with you. The South has not always been the friendliest place for African Americans,” Landrieu told NBC’s Chuck Todd on Thursday. “It’s been a difficult time for the president to present himself in a very positive light as a leader.”

    Right wing talking heads promptly began exploding, but Landrieu to her credit didn’t back down:

    repeated those sentiments in a statement issued this afternoon:

    The main reason the president has struggled here is because his energy policies are not in line with the people of Louisiana. We are a pro-drilling, pro-oil, gas state. The offshore moratorium was extremely unpopular and, in my opinion, wholly unwarranted. It made a lot of people angry and put many businesses at risk. In addition, the South has not always been the friendliest or easiest place for African Americans to advance, and it’s been a difficult place for women to be recognized as the leaders we are. Everyone knows this is the truth, and I will continue to speak the truth even as some would twist my words seeking political advantage.

    I’m hoping we’ll see similar straight talk from Obama and the Democrats in the future, now that he is not running for anything else.
    I’ll be blunt: I see no way for the Democrats to make substantial inroads in the South unless they again embrace a white supremacist agenda. I think the South is lost to Democrats for at least a generation.
    Fortunately, the Democrats can regularly win the White House by reproducing the Obama 2012 map. With Clinton, they may be even able to pry away a Georgia or North Carolina. But otherwise the South is closed to the Democrats.

  18. stonetools says:

    @MBunge:

    I just saw Chris Matthews on TV this morning essentially echoing McConnell, saying that a GOP run Senate could pass a bunch of bipartisan legislation

    The Beltway media believe in the gospel of “Reasonable Bipartisan Compromise” as a matter of religious dogma, despite all evidence to the contrary. It’s easier to blame Obama’s “leadership style” , rather than to simply recognize that the parties are fundamentally different than the ones they grew up with.
    To a certain extent, too, the media hold on to this because Obama himself believed and preached this gospel for his first three years. It was in 2012 that he began to say that the two parties had fundamentally different visions for America, and that was the reason why there was no compromise. He tended to mute such statements afterwards but maybe he will clearer about this.
    In meantime, though, expect Matthews and the pundits to continue to hold to the One True Faith, until they get replaced by pundits who actually look at evidence, not memories.

  19. superdestroyer says:

    @James Pearce:

    If politics is going to be about unrestrained government spending, a growing list of entitlements, and a growing safety net, then the Democrats are going to dominate. If people want a big spending, big entitlement party, they can always vote for the Democrats. Karl Rove thought the Republicans could be the second big spending party and was wrong.

    If the Republicans have to understand that some groups are just going to hate them and that either they cut government services to make the level of taxes we have now or they raise taxes to fund the level of government people want. The worst thing the Republicans ever did was deficit spend because it put the U.S. on the pathway to being a one party state.

  20. James Pearce says:

    @superdestroyer:

    the U.S. on the pathway to being a one party state.

    If the Republicans take Congress this week, as expected, what will that mean for your “one party state” hypothesis?

    What it should mean: Your “one party state” hypothesis is bunk and should be retired.

    What it will probably mean: The one party state will emerge after the next election.

    At some point, the GOP’s reputation will catch up to the reality. They are not interested in restraining spending. They’re fine with entitlements and the safety net. I mean, did you sleep through the Bush administration or what?

  21. legion says:

    @superdestroyer:

    why alienate people who actually do vote for you, middle class married whites, to pursue a group that does not vote for you, blacks and Latinos

    SD, you ignorant twat, WHY DO YOU THINK BLACKS AND LATINOS DON’T VOTE REPUBLICAN?

    Hint: It’s because the explicit GOP platform is to make their lives markedly _worse_. If you don’t remember that, try these lines on for size:
    – Remove worker/workplace protections
    – Remove wage protections
    – Encourage companies’ low wages thru tax subsidies
    – Remove the social safety net for people who can’t get sufficient/any work
    – Suppress their votes so they can’t ever change society

  22. Gustopher says:

    Republicans tend to support keeping economic power exactly as it is, far more than Democrats. That’s a pretty hard sell for people who keep ending up on the bottom, like African-Americans and other minorities.

    Pro-consumer policies are pro-African-American policies. ObamaCare, the consumer financial protection agency that I am blanking on the name of, basically everything that helps the little guy — because, financially, African-Americans tend to be the little guy.

    And, it’s easy to take a noble stance against affirmative action as reverse discrimination when you basically never face discrimination.

    I have heard nothing from the Republicans on how to break a cycle of generational poverty faced by anyone, let alone one reinforced by discrimination. Republicans care very deeply that a bakery might have to bake a cake for gay people, but they don’t raise a whisper about black men having a harder time finding a job (except occasionally to blame Obama).

    I don’t see how outreach can really help the Republicans when they have those policies. I could be wrong, I’m as white as Rand Paul, but I think you have to offer people something for their support.

  23. stonetools says:

    More on Democratic failure here:

    “Building a brand is telling a clear, credible and compelling story about what you’ve done and what you’ve done and what you are going to do,” explains David Srere, chief strategy officer at Siegel + Gale, another leading brand consultancy. “It says that come hell or high water, this is what we are going to be about.” It’s the simple, enduring idea that cuts through the escalating noise in the marketplace, overcomes the rampant cynicism among consumers and allows companies to recover from the inevitable bad luck of missteps.

    What’s true for companies also applies to political parties. And from that standpoint, the performance of the Obama White House and his party’s congressional candidates has largely been a case study in how to destroy brand equity: Democratic candidates begging the Democratic president not to campaign for them and, in one memorable instance, refusing even to say whether she voted for him. The president and candidates rarely mentioning, let alone defending, their landmark health reform legislation. Party leaders pleading with the president not to take executive actions on immigration or climate change before the election. A Democratic Senate willing to put off action on urgent or popular issues out of fear that Republicans will force tough votes on controversial amendments.

    Now, on the eve of the election, Democratic candidates find themselves caught in a vicious cycle in which their refusal to embrace and defend their party’s brand is discouraging the faithful and turning away the undecided, threatening their election prospects still further. What Benjamin Franklin said of revolutions also applies to political campaigns: Those who don’t hang together will surely hang separately

    Bottom line: the Republican brand sucks because their product sucks. The Democratic brand sucks because they don’t defend their product.

  24. C. Clavin says:

    Last week Paul proposed a foreign policy that looks just like what Obama doing.
    This week he says Republucans suck.
    What’s next? Health care reform based on a Heritage Foundation plan that Romney instituted in MA?

  25. Hal_10000 says:

    @stonetools:

    This is the Democratic answer to the Republican “we need better messaging!”. People don’t like their product either, including, as Paul notes, their approach to education policy and criminal justice issues,

  26. stonetools says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Oh, I dunno. Polls consistiently show that the public prefer the Democratic position on most issues. Even on the dreaded Obamacare, the public likes its provisions-so long as you don’t call it Obamacare. So no, its more of a messaging problem, IMO. And the Democrats consistiently suck at messaging, starting from the top with Obama, who is just too d@mn too cool for school.
    The Democrats have not had a unified message all year. Perlstein takes a stab at it:

    “I’m a Democrat. In economic terms, that means I believe we need an active, competent government to ensure that prosperity is broadly shared by protecting ordinary people from the occasional excesses of markets and the undue power of businesses. That’s why Democrats are for raising the minimum wage, closing down corporate tax scams, putting tighter regulation on Wall Street and providing adequate funding for a world-class public education system from pre-K through college. And it’s why we are proud to have passed legislation to ensure that all Americans finally have a basic health insurance plan regardless of income or health or which company they work for. With oil and gas prices falling, it means I’m even willing to raise energy taxes by a few pennies per gallon so we can reinvest in the infrastructure — highways, ports, airports, subway systems, the electric grid, the Internet — on which all of us and the economy depend. Republicans are uninterested in, or unwilling to do, any of these things or in making any of these investments. Are you with them, or are you with us Democrats?”

  27. ernieyeball says:

    Dandy Randy Paul sez:

    “The problem is the perception is that no one in the Republican Party cares.”

    Can’t imagine why anyone would percieve such a thing.
    Like when he chokes on his hamburger to get away from the Dreamers he cares so much about.
    Later Citizen Paul claims he was scheduled for another interview when the Dreamers “Kamakazied” him and King. I am sure this will go over well with Americans of Japanese descent.
    As far as I know the reporter he had to meet for the scheduled interview has not been identified.
    http://www.politico.com/story/2014/08/steve-king-rand-paul-dreamers-immigration-109725.html
    Any fool can see Dandy Randy is not pleased to hear the words “I am a Dreamer..” as he bolts from the table.

  28. Hal_10000 says:

    @stonetools:

    Ah, yes, that poll. The poll that shows that everyone likes the stuff in Obamacare … except for the taxes and mandates required to make it work. The problem is that it doesn’t work that way. Legislation comes as a package, not as a sushi menu. If I promised to give you a million dollars, a night with Heidi Klum and a porsche but you had to have your eyes gouged out, you’d turn it down even though you might like 75% of the provisions. In fact, I would say one of the biggest problems with our Republic is precisely that: people wanting all the benefits of government (“free” healthcare, wars, two million people in cages) and not wanting to pay the price (taxes) or wanting other people to pay it.

    Here’s the thing: Democratic candidates have lots of data on the popularity of positions, down to the street level. If they are running away from their record, it’s because they have good information that their record is unpopular

    And it should be. Over the last few years, Democrats have given us spending without the taxes, economic “stimulus” that’s mostly crony capitalism, a banking reform bill written by two men so tight with the banking industry their poop comes out in coin sleeves, zero prosecutions of high-level financial criminals, more criminalization, more law enforcement, education reform cooked up by corporate shills like Arne Duncan. They’re better on a few issues (gay rights, abortion) but those don’t carry a lot of water. I’m not saying Republicans are better. But for the most part, our election is a matter of picking which rich entitled backers you care to empower.

  29. stonetools says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Ah, yes, that poll. The poll that shows that everyone likes the stuff in Obamacare … except for the taxes and mandates required to make it work. The problem is that it doesn’t work that way. Legislation comes as a package, not as a sushi menu. If I

    (shrug)

    This makes Obamacare like every legislative package there ever was-a mix of popular and unpopular provisions. The difference is the virulent and dishonest campaign waged against it by a Republican Party that explicitly identified it with the black devil in the White House and hinted that said devil was going to take away Medicare benefits from frightened white seniors and give it to “those people.”( I saw another ad repeating that lie just the other day).

    Over the last few years, Democrats have given us spending without the taxes, economic “stimulus” that’s mostly crony capitalism, a banking reform bill written by two men so tight with the banking industry their poop comes out in coin sleeves, zero prosecutions of high-level financial criminals, more criminalization, more law enforcement, education reform cooked up by corporate shills like Arne Duncan

    IOW, there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the two parties, Mr. Purist Independent Voter? I’m sorry, we saw that movie back in 2000 and we know how it ends. Won’t get fooled again by that phony independent shtick. The Republicans are worse-sometimes much worse-on those issues than the Democrats, even assuming your cockeyed interpretation of the record is correct.

    I’m not saying Republicans are better

    Actually, they’re worse-which means voting for Democrats is logically the better choice. But go ahead not voting for the better choice, because they don’t fill all the squares on the Purist Independent Voter Bingo Card.

  30. al-Ameda says:

    @MBunge:

    He also flatly blamed Obama’s leadership style for nothing getting done and completely skipped over the last 6 years of irresponsible and contemptible behavior by McConnell and the rest of the Republicans.

    Chris Matthews – Republican complaints notwithstanding – is a typical Washington Insider – and those guys revel in “both sides do it.”

    So, one side shuts down government 2 times in 5 years, and tries to leverage a threatened default on federal debt securities against their demand that Obama rescind ACA – and Matthews probably finds Obama at fault because he didn’t cut a deal with Republicans to avert those shutdowns.

    Yeah, if one side does it 95 times the other side does it 5 times, it is technically correct to say both sides do it, but it’s disingenuous, and it’s the political equivalent of empty calories.

  31. gVOR08 says:

    In amongst everything else, @superdestroyer: does understand one key point.

    A more general question is why alienate people who actually do vote for you, middle class married whites, to pursue a group that does not vote for you, blacks and Latinos

    A long time ago Richard Nixon seized opportunity and launched the Southern Strategy. It proved an effective way for Republicans to win national elections and is now even more necessary. Were Republican honest, they would campaign on, “My sponsors don’t want to pay taxes; they want to be free to cheat you, con you, and destroy the environment; and oh, they also want you to give them lots of money generally and bail out their banks every now and again.” Not likely to be a winning slogan. But running against minorities and hippies still works. They’ve been running on racial resentment for over forty years. How do they back out of it without losing SD?

  32. Gustopher says:

    @gVOR08: But, superdestroyer also recognizes that he and his kind are not enough to keep the Republican Party viable — this is his entire one party state jive.

    The Republicans either need to make inroads with women or minorities, or hope for a huge demographic shift, if they plan on being viable. Honestly, I think they have a better chance with women, but ask me again after six years of a woman president.

    Birthers really exposed the Republican Party to be either run by racists, willing to coddle racists, or afraid of racists. Individual Republicans might have been appalled (the fine folks who run this site, for instance), but the party leadership never had a problem with it. A public response of “what the hell is wrong with you people?” would have gone a long way to making the party seem less racist.

    I blame John McCain.

  33. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @Rafer Janders: As @superdestroyer himself pointed out so, so very eloquently. A masterful reveal!

  34. superdestroyer says:

    @legion:

    The easiest way for employers to avoid OSHA regulation is to hire a massive number of illegal aliens who cannot complain. Also, another easy way to avoid workplace protections is to establish a culture of “No Snitching” that the Democrats seem to be pushing.

    The easiest way to keep wages low is to have a porous border, a massive number of legal immigrants, and keep up the competition for the good jobs. If an employer has to search through 100 resume to hire someone, they will not feel compelled to pay very much. And no, raising the minimum wage does not trump supply and demand. It just means that the floor quickly becomes the ceiling.

    The safety net keeps expanding with no thought to long term sustainability. When the long term plan to pay for government is to pretend that taxes have no effect on anything in the economy (risk taking, wages, purchasing behavior), then there is no way to the left can claim to be “reality-based.”

    Also, I find it odd that Democrats get excited about voter suppression when states like California have virtually no competitive elections, the primaries are set to keep incumbents in power, and the ballot box has no effect on policy or governance. Adding millions of third world immigrants who will automatically vote for Democrats is having a much greater effect that Voter ID bills that the Republicans have pushed.

  35. superdestroyer says:

    @gVOR08:

    Of course, what you wrote is a gross characterization of the right but like the left is just a party that wants to tell you where to live, (new urbanism), what to drive (environmental laws), how to educate your children. The left is also a party that wants to ask a citizen their gender, race, and ethnicity and then decide what standard to hold that person. What is amazing is how many of the left either believe that they will be the order givers in the future or who think that they are clever enough to take advantage of a massive, big spending, high entitlement government. What is also amazing is how much support the left is willing to grifters and short term thinkers while going out of their way to punish honest, long term thinkers.

  36. superdestroyer says:

    @Gustopher:

    When you say appeal to women, you actually mean appeal to single women. The Republicans actually get the majority of married women votes. And no, there is no way that any form of a conservative party can make inroads to single women or to minority women. Whatever the Republicans can do to pander to single women, the Democrats can easily match. And if the Republicans go too far to pander to single women, then the conservatives will just alienate white men.

    Also, you are reinforcing the idea that whatever a single Republican says applies to all Republicans but that a Democrats says does not apply to any other Democrats. How many times have I read a Democrat say that crack was a CIA conspiracy or that race-based reparations are constitutional, or that speech codes are constitutional. Yet, no one ever ask the Democratic establish about those issues.

  37. legion says:

    @superdestroyer: Literally, EVERYTHING you said is a complete fantasy.

    The easiest way for employers to avoid OSHA regulation is to hire a massive number of illegal aliens who cannot complain.

    Only if your company requires _nothing_ but unskilled labor and has literally _no_ employees besides those immigrants. It’s easier to simply not care, due to the low number of OSHA inspectors, the rarity of actual inspections, and the wrist-slap nature of the penalties.

    The easiest way to keep wages low is to have a porous border, a massive number of legal immigrants, and keep up the competition for the good jobs.

    Actually, economic research shows that’s not true. Also,

    If an employer has to search through 100 resume to hire someone, they will not feel compelled to pay very much.

    Just how many immigrants do you imagine sneak across the border, resume in-hand?

    The safety net keeps expanding with no thought to long term sustainability.

    The safety net is _supposed_ to be funded by taxes. If you enforce tax laws, and actually require _companies_ to pay appropriate taxes on their operations, then the money coming in from employers and employees funds the system. but if you cut corporate taxes below the level of the burden they place on the system, you cut off your own revenue supply. Pretty simple, actually.

    I find it odd that Democrats get excited about voter suppression when states like California have virtually no competitive elections,

    That’s because Democrats care about the _entire_ country, not just the parts populated by people of look, act, and think exactly like us. We’re not stupid enough to imagine the US can continue to exist without diversity. Finally,

    Adding millions of third world immigrants who will automatically vote for Democrats

    Illegal immigrants can’t vote for _anyone_ dip. They don’t show up on voter rolls, they can’t qualify for absentee ballots, and if they really, collectively _wanted_ to affect elections that badly, getting a fake ID that would get past _any_ voter ID law in the country would be cake. You are completely, 100%, full of garbage.

  38. Eric Florack says:

    I wrote this a few years ago, and it applies to this conversation directly…..

    Think of it this way; If we ‘update’ our ideas/ideals/principles away from conservatism, what are we really doing, but willingly changing them so as to be more like liberals?
    You want fresh approaches? Well, let’s try ‘compassionate conservatism’. Oops. Been done, already, huh? What did that do except grow government?
    Similarly, the movement away from our conservative values is what caused John McCain to be nominated, and what caused him to lose in the general. In a choice between socialism and socialism lite,apparently the choice is for the real thing, or nothing.
    We keep getting ‘moderates’ who encourage us to move left, and guess what? Every time we do, we move farther away from where we want to be. Perhaps the change that needs to take place is moving back that 30 years that John speaks of, and thereby to a 200-some-odd year old agenda that I’ve heard of, once upon a time.
    The argument should not be focused on the idea that we need to change in order to be relevant… what needs to improve is our commitment to relating how our positions are already relevant, and should never have been given up.
    I see this as an ongoing process. Chesterton, I think it was, painted a word picture about a white post. If you want to keep it white, you’ve gotta keep painit or at least cleaning the thing. It’s a maintainence thing. We need to keep poinding on the principles of the thing, keep reselling them, keep the idea high in the public eye that our principles, our agenda of freedom, was, is, and always will be valid.

    what I’m suggesting is, that we haven’t done a good enough job of explaining ourselves to minorities and whatnot. It comes down to salesmanship really.