In the past two weeks, various contenders for 2016 have been making news. Newt is being his typical a-hole self, attacking Romney and everyone else with bombastic and unconstructive verbal jabs meant make people think Newt be smarts. Chris Christie has been trying to explain why embracing Obama the day before the election wasn’t a problem. Paul Ryan is trying to fight Obama for the good of the country, which I can respect but is not my preferred strategy at the moment. Marco Rubio went to Iowa and assured us he does love rap.
Meanwhile, Bobby Jindal has been giving interviews all over the place and gave a solid speech as the incoming Chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association. What has impressed me with Jindal is that he seems to get it.
Jindal called on the party to “stop being the stupid party” and to make an effort to attract a broad swath of voters. As he put it, we need to “campaign for every single vote.” Absolutely. Unfortunately, that is something many conservatives don’t understand as they continue to talk about us losing because we didn’t get out the vote. A party that wants to represent America must actually represent America, not just one shrinking part of it.
And in that regard, Jindal noted that we need to come to terms with liking the people we are seeking to attract. And the first step in that is to stop insulting them: “You don't start to like people by insulting them and saying their votes were bought. . . We also don't need to be saying stupid things.” His second comment there was a direct reference to Indiana and Missouri, but it applies much more broadly too. It applies to all the things we talked about the other day which come across as hateful, racist, sexist and religiously exclusive. It applies to what Jindal called “dumbed-down conservatism” and “simplistic” and “bizarre comments” which “insult the intelligence of voters.”
But even more importantly, Jindal beat the same drum I’ve been beating for a long time: “Simply being the anti-Obama party didn’t work. You can’t beat something with nothing.”
Hallelujah! I’ve been making this point for a long time and I am deeply frustrated that the party doesn’t get this. Romney had a platform, though he didn’t sell it well. But beyond him, the party really doesn’t stand for anything people want. Yes, it produced an official “platform” – the one which whines about abortion and censoring the internet to save the children, but beyond that the party has produced no ideas since the age of Jack Kemp and his enterprise zones. Seriously, if you think about it, tell me what you think the Republican Party is offering other than the status quo and opposition to the Democrats. Are you satisfied with the state of the country? Doubt it. So why do you think a platform of “we’ll make sure nothing changes” will resonate with anyone?
We need to put forward a bold, yet simple to understand and easy to personalize, series of policies that promise to improve: (1) the jobs market, (2) the small business environment, (3) individual economic security, (4) the housing market, (5) retirement, (6) health care, (7) education, (8) national security, and (9) the environment. We need to tell people how our policies will make their lives better!
And as we think about this, we need to focus on the people who really do matter to this country: the middle class. Our policies need to tell the poor how they will become middle class, tell the middle class how we will protect what they have earned, and tell the aspirational class how we’ve cleared the way for them to benefit from the risks they take. Indeed, we need to tell the artists, the inventors, and the entrepreneurs that the government will stop punishing them, stop trying to stop them, and stop taking the benefits of their efforts. The one thing we do NOT need to do is to promise to protect the rich and powerful. Again, Bobby Jindal put this well:
“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. We cannot be, we must not be, the party that simply protects the rich so they get to keep their toys.”This is exactly the point. But sadly, right now we have it backwards. Right now, the Republicans have become the party of Wall Street, of the rich, and of Big Oil. Those are the only groups that are guaranteed to get a blank-check defense from Republicans and that needs to stop.
I’m liking Jindal’s new approach a lot. There is much wisdom here and we need to see if he can transform his ideas into policies. Let’s hope he succeeds.
As a final aside, Rick “the socialist” Santorum wrote an editorial this week as well. In it, he blames Romney while saying we shouldn’t blame Romney. Then he endorses the get-out-the-vote argument as the reason we lost. He shoots down the idea of Hispanic outreach as “analyses coming largely from the academic and pundit crowd.” And he suggests that what we really need to do if we’re going to win is to promote policies that “encourage family stability.” Retard.