Editor’s note: This op-ed is by Bob Stannard, a lobbyist and author. This piece first appeared in the Bennington Banner.
His rotund self sits behind the microphone. His face is red. He is apoplectic. He is screaming endlessly at people he cannot see. “They (the GOP) think they got landslided (in 2012), but they didn’t.” “The Republican Party lost because it’s not conservative, it didn’t get its base out,” he said, adding, “People say they need to moderate their tone — they don’t.”
These are the words and the opinion of one Rush Limbaugh, conservative talk show host. He was responding to the new Republican National Committee report called the “Growth and Opportunity Project.” This report apparently was done as a result of a survey of voters who found the Republican Party to be “scary, narrow minded and out of touch” and that they are the party of “stuffy old men.”
Well, Mr. Limbaugh can bark until his head explodes, but the voters pretty much sum up what most people already think. So what is the poor GOP supposed to do? One might think that they would modify their positions to be, say, a little less scary, but don’t hold your breath.
What you can expect to see is a marketing program, a makeover. They have to find another way to sell their message to the voters, even if voters don’t like the message. The Republican Party of today is not the Republican Party of 30 years ago. The party has been hijacked by conservative radical extremists. This should come as no surprise to Karl Rove, who is now opining that things must change within the party even though he was the architect who helped to empower the extremists.
You may recall when Rove worked for George Bush the plan was to empower the evangelicals of this country, a group that heretofore was sidelined. Bush and Rove nurtured this constituency and gave them credibility. The results were the rise of people like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. Now, thanks to people like these two, Republicans are going to great extremes to be even more extreme. They oppose things like health care for diabetics while supporting things like kids drinking 22 ounce soft drinks laced with sugar. They support wars, yet turn their backs on wounded vets.
Can any amount of public relations and marketing gloss over the extreme positions held by national Republican leaders? That’s hard to say, but look at what happened last week at the Conservative Political Action Conference annual meeting. Defeated Republican candidate Mitt Romney re-emerged to introduce the new packaging of the Iraq War.
“Whenever you think of these interventions — the impulse behind every single one of them was liberation, not conquest,” Romney said.
Tell that to Dick Cheney, who we learned this week was more interested in Iraq’s oil than previously thought by some. Many people thought that the primary reason to go into Iraq was for their oil, and because President Bush was on a vendetta for Hussein’s murder attempt on Bush’s father.
Americans aren’t stupid. They can see pretty clearly the agenda being put forth by the leaders of the Republican Party. The party seems to be saying that the top 1% needs more help via tax cuts and that working Americans should help pay for these cuts. Most people think this is bunk, which is why Obama was re-elected. All the PR in the world isn’t going to change people’s opinion, or is it?
Here in Vermont we’re seeing sort of the same thing on a much smaller scale. After Peter Shumlin won his election we saw the emergence of a group called Campaign for Vermont. In their marketing they state that this is a non-partisan, non-political group. They want to start a conversation about feel-good issues everyone agrees with like “prosperity.”
Interestingly enough, the group was started by a former chief executive of Bear Stearns, one of the largest Wall Street firms that ended up as a sacrificial lamb when the economic bubble burst. A handful of people from Bear Stearns made a lot of money. Thousands of people lost millions. These folks who lost big probably would love to hear about how to be more prosperous from a senior executive of a company that ended up losing their money.
The group is going around the state holding town hall forums to talk about issues and how to make Vermont a better place by lowering all of our taxes and scaling back on regulations. Sound familiar?
Some of the more cynical people out there think that Campaign for Vermont is simply a campaign for its founder, Bruce Lisman, who allegedly has gubernatorial ambitions. It’s just about marketing.
It’s not that they’re wrong on the issues. It’s just that you poor, uneducated voters out there aren’t getting it. What you need is a new marketing program. One that helps you get by the scary feeling you get when you see a party lash out at women or work to cripple the middle class. Your problem is that you’re just not seeing the big picture.
Hopefully, some of that 1% money will buy a bigger and better campaign to clear this up for you.
That should make Rush happy.