I’m not exactly sure whom this latest GOP rebranding effort is supposed to convince. But Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal and former Florida governor Jeb Bush (one or both of whom may seek the 2016 presidential nomination) have lent their support.
The obvious question arises: how is a New Republican different from an Old (or “Classic”) Republican? To try and find an answer I consulted a convenient list of 67 things “We Believe.”
The first thing I noticed is that the list is extremely repetitive and could easily be edited down by about half. Then I noticed an apparent effort to appeal to a younger demographic by using words like “organic” and “natural” in a Republican way:
We believe in natural and organic ways of addressing social challenges, not political and artificial controls directed by Washington.
We believe in natural and organic economic growth: We believe in planting the seeds of growth in the fertile soil of your economy, where you live, work, invest, and dream, not in the barren concrete of Washington.
We believe it is best to look at our economy as a living system, to be grown bottom-up, naturally and organically; not top-down, politically and artificially from Washington.
Aside from the wording, not much “new” there.
I’m not sure what this means:
We believe Washington should stay out of our wallets, and out of our bedrooms.
It might imply support for gay rights (as Republicans, they are understandably reluctant to make that explicit), except that Jindal in particular is not exactly a fearless champion.
Then there’s this, which might suggest a break from the GOP’s traditional ties to corporate elite:
We believe we should not be the party of “big.” We are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, or big anything.
We believe in ending corporate welfare.
We believe big business sends lobbyists to Washington for the same reason Willie Sutton robbed banks: That’s where the money is. We believe the Democratic Party’s constant expansion of big, top-down government in Washington betrays the interest of working Americans and has turned Washington into a financial playground for the big-business elite.
But again that contrasts with Jindal’s generosity to large corporations at the expense of ordinary Louisianans.
According to Politico, NewRepublican.org is the creation of Republican strategist Alex Castellanos.
Castellanos created the group last year after the party’s losses in 2012, when he felt there was too much focus on attacking Barack Obama without a clear vision for where conservatives want to take the country.
“Being the party that says ‘don’t touch the hot stove’ only gets us so far. We have to cook something,” he said in a phone interview Thursday. “Burning the other guy’s house down is fine, but we need to build a house that gives people a better place to live.”
Republicans have talked for years about presenting a positive agenda for change instead of simply being “the party of no.” Not much evidence of that here.
Whatever you thought of it, the “New Labour” rebranding was a political success. I suspect NewRepublican.org will fall down the same memory hole as this project.
Update: So which video will be more damaging to their 2016 presidential prospects? Rand Paul accusing Dick Cheney of advocating the invasion of Iraq as vice president to serve the interests of Halliburton? (As much as I despise Cheney, I can’t agree with that.) Or Jeb Bush saying illegal immigration to the US is sometimes an “act of love”? (A dangerously compassionate thing for a Republican to say.)