Thursday, October 11, 2007

Shooting your elephant in the foot

Like the Democrats, the Republican Party has a lot of room for improvement. Alongside the sanctimonious über-conservative wing, many of their more moderate members are walking into the same trap that their opposition stepped into in the 2004 election. In the 2004 campaign, the dems went on the road without having a genuinely positive offering, settling for "ABB" -- "Anybody But Bush". Now, I'm hearing from some of my conservative friends that they'll settle for "ABC" -- "Anybody But Clinton (Hillary)."

This is hardly a winning strategy, especially for the party which has struggled so hard to rebuild its reputation for Reaganesque optimism.

There were, to all appearances, several good men standing on the dais on Tuesday, answering questions from the moderators from MSNBC and CNBC -- some of them even gave a few of Chris Matthews' questions more dignity than they deserved. All in all, except for the flaming loon who believes in conspiracy theories, the party has a pretty fair offering. With a little time, a little patience, and some good lighting, they might even be brilliant. And not a one of them has advocated anything remotely radically anti-American, unconstitutional, or even particularly unrealistically nonconservative.

Except for the flaming loon who believes in conspiracy theories.

Still, there's a lot of that going around, ever since the days when kids dropped acid.

But I digress.

The Republicans are making a couple of mistakes. The first one is the "ABC" crowd's non-choice choice.

Then there is the hard-right base, taking the view that, if our guy isn't perfect, we'll split the party and let the office go to the opposition. Well, that's using your noodle! If you can't find somebody far enough to the right on every single issue, then let somebody from the far left take over and make things worse (in your perspective). Following that kind of logic, the next time I get a pimple, I should simply peel away all my skin.

It's fine and dandy, in the early days of primary-election campaigning, to have an open debate as to whether or not a candidate will meet your hopes and ambitions, for party and nation. It's quite another thing to announce that if the party doesn't go the way you want it to, you'll boycott the election -- or support a third-party candidate, which can do even more damage (think Ross Perot).

Part of living in this representative democracy is learning a little give-and-take.

The elephant party hasn't always been filled with the smug self-righteous. Once upon a time, most were genuinely righteous idealists -- they were the political power behind the civil rights movement, the women's suffrage movement, and even supported some of the early labor union activities (before the decline of many unions, as they slid toward socialism, communism, anarchy and thuggery). There was no room for priggish negativity.

There still isn't.

It’s time the Republicans got off their whiny behinds and acted like the positive force they once were. The party of Lincoln has a long history of leadership, and therefore, of setting positive examples for the rest of us. There is no need to go on the attack against other persons or parties -- simply present your views in a clear, coherent fashion. Leave home the pie charts and other graphics, though. They never sold anything but colored ink, as far as I can tell.

Here, in running for the White House, all candidates are in the process of selling themselves as the best thing since sliced bread. It’s time these guys --most of them with a business background -- got a clue, and presented themselves as men of vision and Madison Avenue products, to use both to their best advantage. It’s time the party’s leaders figured out that the most popular carbonated beverage in the Western hemisphere didn’t get to the top by saying, “We’re not the other cola,” and they don’t maintain brand loyalty by saying, “If you don’t like what we’re selling you can go buy theirs.” They learned their lesson the hard way, with “New Coke”. When they saw what they’d done, they went back to the original plan: first, they produced what a large portion of their public wanted (instead of trying to reproduce what the other guys sold), and then they worked hard to maintain high enough quality to keep us buying the stuff even when the competitor offers a deep discount and tap water is available for free.

Can we please have this same serious, pragmatic approach from Republican party leadership? Quit trying to turn yourselves into the bickering, divisive party of little tiny factions, pretending to be for unity while partitioning all. I’d like to actually believe the fantasy that there is a difference between the two parties, for a little while longer.

1 comment:

JeanneW said...

Superb, as usual, Rebecca. You gave me a good and much needed slap upside the head with this one and I'll be sharing it with others thinking of switching to the other Cola knowing darn well it's a very poor substitute and will never be what we want and need! TOO BAD THE LOCAL NEWSPAPER DOESN"T PUBLISH YOU ANY MORE! YOUR COLUMN WAS THE ONLY REASON I BOUGHT THE PAPER! They can kiss me goodbye!