Monday, February 18, 2013

"Can The Republicans Be Saved From Obsolescence?"

The Sunday New York Times Magazine article, "Can the Republicans Be Saved From Obsolescence?" highlights the frustration of young Republicans regarding the GOP's lack of tech-savviness compared to the Democrats, made apparent during the presidential election, and its negative, backwards image in a changing America. Regardless, more than one young party activist made the point that the GOP has a "messaging issue...not a principal issue"–as if the problem is spin, not policy:

...The party brand — which is to say, its message and its messengers — has become practically abhorrent to emerging demographic groups like Latinos and African-Americans, not to mention an entire generation of young voters. As one of the party’s most highly respected strategists told me: “It ought to concern people that the most Republican part of the electorate under Ronald Reagan were 18-to-29-year-olds. And today, people I know who are under 40 are embarrassed to say they’re Republicans. They’re embarrassed! They get harassed for it, the same way we used to give liberals a hard time.”

…About an hour into the [focus group] session, [GOP pollster Kristen Soltis] Anderson walked up to a whiteboard and took out a magic marker. “I’m going to write down a word, and you guys free-associate with whatever comes to mind,” she said. The first word she wrote was “Democrat.”

“Young people,” one woman called out.

“Liberal,” another said. Followed by: “Diverse.” “Bill Clinton.”“Change.” “Open-minded.”“Spending.”“Handouts.”“Green.”“More science-based.”

When Anderson then wrote “Republican,” the outburst was immediate and vehement: “Corporate greed.”“Old.”“Middle-aged white men.” “Rich.” “Religious.” “Conservative.” “Hypocritical.” “Military retirees.” “Narrow-minded.” “Rigid.” “Not progressive.” “Polarizing.” “Stuck in their ways.” “Farmers.”

...In the previous few days, the pollster interviewed Latino voters in San Diego and young entrepreneurs in Orlando. The findings were virtually unanimous. No one could understand the G.O.P.’s hot-blooded opposition to gay marriage or its perceived affinity for invading foreign countries. Every group believed that the first place to cut spending was the defense budget. During the whiteboard drill, every focus group described Democrats as “open-minded” and Republicans as “rigid.”

“There is a brand,” the 28-year-old pollster concluded of her party with clinical finality. “And it’s that we’re not in the 21st century.”


Michael The Molar Maven said...

I've read the blog in reverse chronological order. This is precisely the message of Eric Cantor to which you alluded in a subsequent post. I do believe that if the republican party stood up to its ultra right wing fringe and moved just a little bit closer to the center, it could reconstitute itself as a relevant and important factor in public policy. But as long as the party believes it exists to reign in social progress in the name of fiscal responsibility (falsely, I might add, as they have proven to be as profligate, if not moreso, as they claim the democrats have been), they will continue to lose mainstream support.

Jeff Tone said...

What you're saying is especially true as the ultra right wing becomes less "fringe" in Republican politics.