An old story, possibly apocryphal, claims that a beggar once stopped Emperor Hadrian to make a complaint as he traveled through a small town somewhere in the Roman Empire. "I haven't the time for your problems" he informed her, to which she quickly replied "Then you have ceased to be Emperor."
Two years ago Hillary Clinton, in a particularly cheesy stunt, went on a highly-publicized "listening tour" as a means of building a personal connection between the electorate and the famously stiff Senator. As gimmicky as that was, the act of political figures creating the impression that they want to hear our problems and suggestions is fundamental to government at all levels. Even if said politicians aren't actually listening the root of electoral success is making the effort. Some in the conservative movement have suggested that it is time for the GOP to undertake a similar stunt to help the downtrodden party figure out what the little people want.
Needless to say this call has not been heeded. Instead the party's opinion leaders want to focus on one of two things. The first is "rebranding," or essentially doing a marketing campaign. They insist that nothing about the party has changed, nor has anything about the electorate. GOP 2009 is no different than GOP 1980. The party's complete failure in the past two elections has nothing to do with the message, which Americans universally adore. They think they just need to sell it better. So they believe that the product is good but the box it comes in is driving away potential customers.
What they've decided to do is waste a lot of money on "study groups" full of aged hacks, has beens, and failures who will whip up a new and exciting ad campaign. Using the moniker "Resurgent Republic" strategic geniuses like Haley Barbour are in the process of devising a new game plan, such as:
Resurgent Republic will promote market-oriented policies, lower taxes and economic growth, and strong national security policies.
Sounds original, guys! And I so was not expecting that.
The second proposal, straight from the
horse's big fat pill popping serially divorced blowhard Rush Limbaugh's Deep Blue-caliber mind, is to forget this "listening" nonsense and go on "a Teaching Tour."
Look, folks, it's this simple. We do not need a listening tour. We need a teaching tour. That is what the Republican Party/conservative movement needs to focus on. Listening tour ain't it. Teaching tour is more apt.
See, the GOP already has all of the answers. They know that they're right about everything. The problem is you. You just don't understand that Republicans are for low taxes. Thus the party's goal is to win over middle America with information about the stunningly novel suggestion stated in the previous section.
Only the modern GOP could ever be this dumb. The solution to their problems, according to their figurehead and demigod, is an authoritatian lecture tour on which select GOP operatives will remind us all that they "support a balanced budget," don't like abortion, and want lower taxes. We just don't realize – or refuse to do so – how awesome they are. No policy changes, no new ideas; just new slogans and ham-handed repetition of the same ideological agenda we have heard for forty years.
Everybody screws up. Sometimes we even screw up big. But I can think of nothing less likely to pull the party out of its torpor than to say "Well we're perfect, so obviously we don't need to change." The longer they persist in this reasoning, if it can be so described, the longer they will be clinging to dear life on their small remaining foothold in Washingon. And it will continue to be everybody else's fault, at least in the heads of the people who successfully ran the entire movement into the ground over the last two years. Lecturing crowds about why they should like you is a recipe for success so obvious that I can't imagine why so few elected officals (or hopefuls) have implemented it.