Can the Republican Party Rebrand Itself?

John Darkow, Columbia Daily Tribune, Missouri

Can the Republican Party rebrand itself after its big 2012 national election defeat, loss of growing demographic groups, and polls indicating many perceive it as out of touch and too extreme? The answer is yes. Will it? That answer is more iffy.

There are signs of movement.

Senate Republicans in the “Gang of 8″ reached a deal with Democrats on immigration reform. But will the Republican House dilute or stop it? Several top Republicans suggest the party must be more inclusive in tone. Notable non-Sarah Palin fan and Fox News bigwig Roger Ailes made the former Alaska Governor a lowball-contract-renewal offer she could and did refuse, in what many consider an Ailes effort to move Fox away from the Twilight Zone-ish far right. So Palin joins Glen Beck in Fox News exile.

To rebrand, the GOP must extricate itself from the talk radio political culture that celebrates political brinksmanship, snarkiness, over-the-top verbal demonization and division, and considers compromise “caving” and consensus as dated. The talk radio political culture, coupled with the Just Say No bitter political brew of Tea Partiers, have greatly damaged the GOP image — and brand.

If Republicans want to lose six out of seven Presidential elections come 2016, they should stay the course. There is a market in America thirsting for a thoughtful, substantive, Republican Party that offers a serious alternative to Democrats, rather than zinger-hurling politicians and activists seemingly auditioning to be Rush Limbaugh Show substitute hosts.

Current Republican Party rebranding efforts have been damaged by reports that in several states, and even at the national level, some GOPers may want to do what some Virginia Republicans are trying to do. Virginia Republicans tried to shove through a measure changing the way our political system operates by allocating electoral votes according to Congressional districts. Several pundits note that if this system had been in place nationally in 2012, Mitt Romney would have defeated Barack Obama — even though Romney lost by 4.4 million votes.

When Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus expressed interest in this idea, the story spread further and hurt the GOP brand — since to many Americans it (rightfully) made Republicans look like sore losers, willing to garbage-bag our accepted rules of the game to rig elections to win and maintain power. As the imagery damage became evident, more Republicans started voicing opposition to the idea, which even the Wall Street Journal headlined “divisive.”

Florida’s Republican House Speaker Will Weatherford told a reporter: “To me, that’s like saying in a football game, ‘We should have only three quarters, because we were winning after three quarters and they beat us in the fourth.’ I don’t think we need to change the rules of the game, I think we need to get better.”

You could say “no duh” — except there still are an awful lot of powerful “duhs” still out there.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal famously declared it’s time for the GOP to stop becoming known as the “stupid party.” The National Journal’s Charlie Cook suggested the party could use sensitivity training because Asians and Latinos were turned off by “shoot-from-the-lip remarks from various Republican candidates, conservative radio and cable television talk-show hosts, and guests who were seen by many as being, correctly or not, spokesmen for the Republican Party.”

So are the attempts to rig the Electoral College dead? Not totally.

If Republican dominated legislatures shove this through in even a couple of states, it will be a godsend to Democrats who have their own ideas on how to brand the GOP. And if Republicans ever did, in essence, gerrymander the electoral college so that they can maintain power without winning the popular vote, then the U.S. would be on its way to becoming a banana Republic — engineered by “stupid” banana Republicans.

Copyright 2013 Joe Gandelman. This weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

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  • dduck

    They will because they must.

  • zephyr

    Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal famously declared it’s time for the GOP to stop becoming known as the “stupid party.”

    Long past time. They have so much invested in it though… it won’t be easy.

  • slamfu

    Rebranding isn’t the issue. They really have to change their beliefs and assumptions about how this nation, and how the world works, to become a serious party again. As it stands now they are a group of people that operates from instinct and gut feelings and not facts and information. Its finally catching up to them. But it hasn’t yet, not really. They still insisted on running Romney, who basically wanted to do the same stuff Bush did, even after it clearly was a disastrous course of action. And the others in the GOP primary were even worse and more stubborn. They couldn’t get a reasonable person to get more than single digit support in the primaries, and had a series of extremists take the lead the whole time. It spoke volumes about the state of the GOP today. After ’14, IF the Tea Party folks get the boot, they can start working on “rebranding”, and not before.

  • roro80

    Totally slamfu. Renaming “Bag-O-Sh*t” to “Fecal Fantasy” doesn’t fool most folks. They still know what they’re buying…

  • http://www.americaincontext.com Barky

    I complain here all thr time that the GOP’s fundamntal problem is their lack of integrity/ethics. But another fundamental problem is the gerrymandering that keeps them empowered.

    And this is straight from the GOP talking points playbook, but when you lack competition, you stagnate. There needs to be a “free market” in elections to prevent stagnation, but gerrymandering preents that from happening.

    Their actions to lock them in certain seats is part of their own downfall.