Republicans aren’t shifting further to the center as fast as quickly or sharply as defeated Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney discarded past positions– even NASCAR racers at the Daytona 500 can’t move that fast — but our Quote of the Day comes from Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, whose comments to The Politico are indicative of an emerging parade of GOPers who are trying to reposition themselves and their party away from polarizing talk radio political culture conservatism that many believe last week sunk — and WILL sink — the GOP.
For months “going moderate” has been said by Republicans with a sneer or about-to-vomit expression. Republicans who are now gingerly trying to change their or the party’s position, however, are doing precisely that after looking at election results that showed the Republican Party in danger of being overtaken and perhaps politically obliterated by demographics the party seems to have kissed off. Failed GOP Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan is insisting he lost not due to his positions but to losing the “urban vote.” Some may debate that. But one certainty: election results show Barack Obama won a big chunk of moderate voters which fit in nicely with the other pieces of the strong coalition that swept him back into office during a year when most believed a tepid economy made him destined to be a one term President.
Just listen to Jindal:
“We’ve got to make sure that we are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, big anything,” Jindal told POLITICO in a 45-minute telephone interview. “We cannot be, we must not be, the party that simply protects the rich so they get to keep their toys.”
He was just as blunt on how the GOP should speak to voters, criticizing his party for offending and speaking down to much of the electorate.
“It is no secret we had a number of Republicans damage our brand this year with offensive, bizarre comments — enough of that,” Jindal said. “It’s not going to be the last time anyone says something stupid within our party, but it can’t be tolerated within our party. We’ve also had enough of this dumbed-down conservatism. We need to stop being simplistic, we need to trust the intelligence of the American people and we need to stop insulting the intelligence of the voters.”
The bottom line is that “dumbed-down conservatism” has lead to screwed up election results for the GOP — causing teeny-weeny things, such as losing what seemed to be easy-to-win Senate seats in several elections. Or control of the Senate.
Calling on the GOP to be “the party of ideas, details and intelligent solutions,” the Louisianan urged the party to “stop reducing everything to mindless slogans, tag lines, 30-second ads that all begin to sound the same. “
But it’s so much easier to parrot Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, or some blogger who says something that sounds tough and/or good.
He added: “Simply being the anti-Obama party didn’t work. You can’t beat something with nothing. The reality is we have to be a party of solutions and not just bumper-sticker slogans but real detailed policy solutions.”
Now in his second-term as governor, Jindal, 41, will formally take over the Republican Governors Association this week at the group’s annual post-election conference. He has kept quiet in the days following the GOP’s defeat last week, but his pointed comments reflect his intent on playing an active role in the party’s conversation and perhaps to pursue a presidential bid when his term is up at the start of 2016.
Note that last sentence again.
He may be thinking of running in 2016. But rather than screaming “We built that!” he’s urging his party to be more populist and to expand a tent currently noted more by its bouncers than a “GRAND OPENING” sign.
It’s a further sign of the civil war within the GOP that has already started among those who continue to want the party to take a truly “severely conservative” line and those who feel the party must move to the center to survive which means some changes in terms of tone and substance. When New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie praised Obama’s help on Hurricane Sandy and refused to tone his praise down it might have been a tip off that some GOPers had enough with 24/7 rage and resentment and wanted to move on to a new era when they would present a specific, affirmative list of things they and their party could offer voters as Republicans.
“Going moderate” may still be a dirty word in the GOP.
But in terms of national political surival, it may increasingly more chic…
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.