by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
If you listened with interest last week as longtime marketing executive Mark McNeilly described for a John Locke Foundation audience the process Republicans could employ to rebrand their party, you might appreciate TIME magazine’s coverage of the same topic.
Most party chairmen try to avoid the headlines. But in recent weeks, Priebus has adopted a pose of brutal candor, trying to stir up his party with dire predictions and frank language. “Our message was weak. Our ground game was insufficient. We weren’t inclusive. We were behind in both data and digital. Our primary and debate process needed improvement,” he said, diagnosing all that went wrong in last year’s campaign. “There’s no one solution,” Priebus continued. “There’s a long list of them.”
The solutions Priebus proposed include an overhaul not just of campaign mechanics but also the basic DNA that has helped to define the party of Reagan, Bush and Romney over three decades. Stop attacking popular culture, and start becoming a part of it, he says. Open a party office near San Francisco to attract high-tech hipsters. Cut the number of primary debates in half. Spend $10 million a year to send full-time organizers into minority communities. Dump or moderate the policy positions that are turning off the next generation of voters. …
… Republican leaders say they like the proposed changes. House Speaker John Boehner and majority leader Eric Cantor have embraced the report; so has former House Speaker and occasional presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. The question now is whether the conservative base of the party is willing to come along for a big and bold ride. Some of the immediate reviews are not so positive. John Tate, the 2012 campaign manager for Ron Paul, said the Priebus plans to shorten the primary process and move away from caucuses could tilt the playing field to well-funded establishment candidates. “They are recommending doing exactly the opposite of what they should be doing to reactivate the grassroots and increase the base of the party,” he said.