Why GOP needs to remake their image

The Republican Party has an image problem.  Really, anyone who follows politics knows it.  Years upon years of corporatist policies has lead to people who really believe things like this quote that was in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

“I hadn’t paid attention to the race, but I’m voting the Democratic ticket,” said Bryan Dabruzzi, a 43-year-old from Atlanta who is finishing a degree in nuclear engineering. “I’m not rich, so I can’t vote Republican.”

Now, Dabruzzi is probably a pretty bright guy.  After all, I’m not even close to finishing a degree in nuclear engineering.  At 43 years old, he’s also not likely to be some kid who just doesn’t know any better.  No, most likely, this is an opinion based on years of observation.  For what it’s worth, this quote was made in reference to a governor’s race here in Georgia.

It’s easy to discount Dabruzzi’s quote as someone who, while maybe not unintelligent, just doesn’t understand politics.  However, one would think that a member of Forbes staff might look at things a bit different.  One would be wrong though, according to John Tamny:

Having lost an eminently winnable presidential election to a failed president in Obama, the Republicans are a Party desperately seeking a message, image, and probably both.

Not surprisingly, many are saying that the Republicans should soften their ways. If the Republicans show the compassionate side of capitalism while not being so rigid in their pro-growth ideology, some say this will expand the tent on the way to electoral success. No, it won’t. The Republicans should run as fast as they can from ‘me-too’ politics. Better yet, Republicans should embrace their “Party of the Rich” label.

Of course, Tamny is wrong.  After all, there is already a perception that they’re the “Party of the Rich”, and if saying stuff to the contrary to that won’t win elections, why on Earth would anyone expect to say, “We’re all about the rich!” to actually work better?

In July, 2013, CBS reported that 80 percent of the American population has to deal with poverty, joblessness, and other problems of the “poor”.  A lot of those people remember what it was like to be poor, even when they get out of that hole.  They don’t want to crap on the poor because they’re not necessarily sure that they won’t be there again.

The GOP needs to recognize this.  They need to get out front and start the process of shifting the perception of the GOP brand,” if you will.  Rather than do as Tamny suggested last summer, they need to begin the process now of working toward how to address issues like poverty.  They need to get out in front and offer solutions besides repealing programs so many see as the primary means of combatting poverty.

Democrats seem to control the debate on poverty, in part because of their close relationship with the media.  However, plenty of media outlets will be glad to give the Republicans the opportunity to share their new proposals, if for no other reason than to continue to appear to be unbiased.

Republicans need to learn how to turn their backs on big business and embrace small business.  That means learning how to argue that deregulation of many industries actually does more good for small businesses than large corporations.  They need to frame discussions of regulation by their impact to small businesses, and press back against Democrat efforts for regulation as an attempt to destroy the middle class.

Whatever they do though, they have got to fight the perception that someone can’t vote Republican because they’re not rich.  They’ve got to convince voters that if they want to be successful and enjoy that success, then they need to vote Republican.  It’s a significant difference, and one Republicans have completely failed at establishing.

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