Rob McKenna had an editorial in The Seattle Times over the weekend about how the Republican party can come back. I guess I’m doing metacommentary on it.
Op-ed: How Republicans need to change in Washington state
Spoiler, it’s not how they can adjust their policies to be decent, it’s about branding. Now, I won’t say branding is totally bad, but you can only make a bad product look good for so long.
DEFEATS like those suffered by many of my Republican colleagues and me last November are cause for sober reflection, as opposed to finger pointing. Rather than focus on blaming others for our defeats, party leaders and activists should instead consider how changing demographics, rapid technological change and relatively swift shifts in public attitudes have contributed to the Democrats’ recent successes in our state and nationally.
Also, how Democrats’ policy positions have been good for those groups of people. There has been a long move over the last century from the Democrats being the whites only party to being the party of everybody deserves a spot at the table. The GOP has let itself become the party of white male identity politics, and they can’t shake that off without changing policy.
The challenge and opportunity for Republicans is in offering bold solutions that encourage more voters to support GOP candidates.
Fortunately, I’ve seen that constructive approach offered in recent weeks by leaders such as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va., and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, among others. All have championed forward-looking policies that will benefit all Americans, not just those in battleground states or among narrow constituencies.
Policies that I will say exist, but won’t say what they are.
I heard the same approach last month when I hosted a roundtable with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and two dozen of our state’s most active campaigners. I came out of that meeting impressed that Northwest Republicans, despite our losses, remain motivated to build the party and offer real alternatives to Olympia’s stale political culture.
What same approach? You didn’t say what the approach was, only that you think it exists. Name some policy that you think will help move people rather than some people.
If we want to be trusted to improve our public schools, grow our economy and govern more effectively, then as Northwest Republicans we must build stronger governing coalitions — and we need to welcome new people inside our party’s tent to do so. As Priebus said, we will win through addition and multiplication in our ranks, not through subtraction and division.
I’m not inherently opposed to what he’s trying to say. But again, it’s the GOP policy that isn’t inclusive. It’s the policy that’s cruel. It’s the policy that people don’t want. And even here, he says schools and the economy are important but doesn’t mention any actual policy for improving them. Anyway, blah blah blah, the national party. I’m skipping that.
In the ethnic and minority communities I visited while running for governor, I invariably received a warm welcome and much encouragement.
So I hired someone with a history of making fun of Asians on Twitter. Also, I didn’t mention policy.
And to be clear, if you want to reach out to minority communities, you have to actually reach out to minority communities. The Democrats were once the party of white supremacy and were worse for minorities than the Republicans are now. But the Democrats took the long, difficult, sometimes painful road to inclusion. It cost us the solid South (LBJ said for a generation, but he seems to have underestimated it), and probably more than a few elections in the North. But the party transformed itself by listening, and by actually changing policies. As Darryl’s post this afternoon demonstrates, that’s not something the GOP seems to be willing to do right now.
In the Sikh temples, at Latino and Asian-American community events, in meetings with African-American education reformers, and on the Indian reservations I revisited during my campaign — in all these communities and places, people expressed their appreciation for my presence. But they also asked, “Where are the other Republicans”?
Maybe this would be a good time to mention a policy change that happened when you went to those communities and listened to what they had to say.
They would go on to say, we have seen you many times outside of campaign season, but often our elected officials (in both parties) wait until election year to come around. That must change. In the deepest sense, Republicans “must be present to win,” as in winning over more support in these communities.
Our candidates must improve their connection to our state’s many diverse communities. Before we can win their votes, we have to spend time in their communities, and not just in the few months before Election Day, to learn how their personal priorities align with Republican principles.
(a) Mention policy. (b) I love how this paragraph reads like like Rob McKenna knows that none of the GOP candidates might actually be from those communities he’s trying to get votes from. What we’re done with the part about trying to recruit minorities without mentioning policy? OK. I’m going to skip over most of the rest of it, and in fairness he will mention vague outlines of policy in his section on getting younger voters. I’d be remiss if I didn’t include this paragraph though:
Fortunately, we are starting from a competitive position in Washington state. In the governor’s race, I won majorities in five of 10 congressional districts, in 31 of the state’s 39 counties and collectively in the 47 legislative districts that were not located entirely within Seattle city limits. To put it in perspective, had fewer than 48,000 of the more than 3 million voters who cast ballots chosen differently, this would be a very different guest column.
TOO BAD WE LET SEATTLE VOTE. It’s always a great way to expand your votes by literally saying if we ignore a segment of the population, we’d have won.