How Republicans Can Rebrand
While listening to conservative pundits lamenting Mitt Romney's defeat, incredulous that three million Republicans didn't vote -- ostensibly because the GOP (Grand Old Party) had failed to get out the vote -- the real problem hit me: cultural infantilism. Liberalism, and its pillars entitlement and dependency, is now so pervasive, corrosive, and infectious that many of America's adults have regressed.
The GOP shouldn't have to "get out the vote" in any election. Responsible adults know that voting is a civic duty, a responsibility, an obligation, a self-directed act. We tell children to fulfill their obligations, right? Barack Obama exhorted his sycophantic base to vote, even instructing them that voting is the best revenge. Although he won, Obama received 10 million fewer votes in 2012 than he did in 2008.
Adults, conversely, get themselves out to vote. They take responsibility for their lives, make difficult choices and sacrifices, fight to limit government, and control their own destinies. Adults respect the laws of finance and accounting, resent wealth confiscation and redistribution, and loathe unpayable debt.
Alas, there are few adults in socialistic America; that's why Barack Obama, the Candy Man, appeals so much to Candylanders, who childishly accept free candy in exchange for their own freedom. President Obama understands the infantilism of his base and, accordingly, crafted a simple re-election strategy: promise and deliver them free candy; they will overlook my failures and vote for me with messianic zeal. It worked.
What freedoms has America lost? Two recent examples: 1) in the past 90 days, Obama's administration has posted 6,125 regulations and notices, averaging 68 per day; 2) a record-high number of Americans, 47.1M, are now using food stamps, shackled by dependence on government. When citizens depend on government and eagerly live according to its overbearing rules, they exemplify infantilism.
As a branding consultant, I know that the GOP has many problems, that Romney was too reticent to counter Barack Obama's mistruths, both in intensity and frequency, in the brawl for the White House. Obama brought a gun to a knife fight; Romney brought a water pistol but needed a cannon. Mitt Romney chose dignity and class against his unpresidential opponent, a strategy that only adults appreciated.
Despite Romney's mistakes, he's clearly a talented, experienced, proven executive who could have led America back to prosperity. Yet Obama, who has no management experience and whose record reeks of failure and deception, won all "the groups": single women, Hispanics, gays, Jews, blacks, the under-30s, Muslims, Mormons, and Catholics. So much for America, land of the individual. Romney won white men and white married couples over 30, now irrelevant in America. Amazingly, he didn't even win all the Republicans, as RepublicansForObama.org indicates!
So if the three million stay-at-home so-called Republicans decided to "punish" Romney for not being conservative enough or Christian enough or libertarian enough or whatever enough, they lost. The last laugh is on them -- and the rest of us: America is now fiscally unfixable, freedom is at an all-time low, and government is more powerful and oppressive than ever. Purposely ruining America, by voting or not voting, is pure infantilism. Refusing to acknowledge the now-fractured union is pure infantilism.
Even though Mitt Romney correctly characterized Candylanders in his "47% speech," which he delivered to what he thought was a private audience behind closed doors, explaining that half the country is entitled and will vote for Obama no matter what, he later apologized for making these remarks. By retreating, by changing his story, by selling out, Romney missed a golden opportunity to display boldness, uniqueness. He was right: Obama did win these Candylanders. Romney had nothing to lose and everything to gain by being honest: respect, votes from the remaining 53% of America, and a seat in the Oval Office.
The Republican Party, and its pollsters, failed to comprehend Candyland. It failed to grasp the source of Candyland: America's union-controlled schools. Children, who know more about global warming than free enterprise, are indoctrinated with socialism and Obama. College students, voting for the first time, are alarmingly socialistic and ignorant about government and current events. It's no coincidence that our youth reflexively flock to politicians sounding just like their left-leaning teachers.
Some are calling for reform and moderation, for Republicans to become more like Democrats. Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, said on Fox News: "It won't kill the country if we raise taxes a little bit on millionaires." Anyone with a brain, and a calculator, knows this is nonsense: the top 10 percent of earners already pay 70 percent of the income taxes. Only a redistributor, who cares nothing about the sanctity of private property, wants more from the productive members of society. Retreat in defeat? Why not just become a one-party tyranny? This is not how to restore America.
Returning to Basics
If the GOP is to reoccupy 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, it must return to basics. In Article 4, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution, we find: The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government. When did you last hear this in a union-controlled school or a university?
America was founded as a state-centric union, a constitutional republic whose citizens (not groups) wield power through their elected representatives. The republican form of government is predicated on a nation of well-informed, proactive adults -- individuals -- who eschew freedom-killing power concentrated in one place, one branch, one person, or any union.
In 1790, Thomas Jefferson wrote, in a letter to William Hunter, the mayor of Alexandria, Virginia: "The republican is the only form of government which is not eternally at open or secret war with the rights of mankind." Think of Jefferson's truth the next time you try to buy a 100-watt lightbulb or a big soda in a New York City movie theater.
The GOP is now at a crossroads. Obama's Candyland will fail, because socialism always fails, but those hooked on candy will beg for more. Republicans must, therefore, lay the groundwork now to reemerge with strength. If, instead, they wallow in self-pity and let critical time pass, they will lose again in 2016. They must present a refreshed face to the country.
The GOP can rebrand as the GNP, the Grand New Party, to end Candyland once and for all. How? Republicans must become republicans, those who faithfully defend the republic and honor the individual. Grand New Party and gross national product (also GNP) must become synonymous!
Continuing to make adult speeches about small government to infantile voters, hoping to get their votes, is futile. The GNP must teach "children of all ages" about the U.S. Constitution, republican basics, free enterprise, failed socialism, and adulthood responsibilities. Change the narrative, massively.
Or the GOP can cowardly close its doors, in retreat, to join the Democratic Party. What Republicans cannot do, if they want to survive and thrive, is forget why they're not Democrats.