Writings and observations

rainey BARRETT
RAINEY

 
Second
Thoughts

“Will they try to change the pizza inside or the box it came in?”

I’ve forgotten who asked that when Republicans announced shortly after the November election defeat they’d be trying to figure out what went wrong. But now the official GOP post-mortem has been published and the question is more relevant that ever. Also easier to answer. The box.

The apparent centerpiece of the Republican Party’s new effort for 2014 is the request $10 million to be set aside to hire more staff to do “fieldwork.” The idea is to put more GOP staff on the streets and in neighborhoods to spread messages of inclusion and cooperation. Of meaningful change. Create converts, as it were. Normally a good plan.

Leadership also wants to hire a technology guru – with support staff – to try to catch Democrats in the use of polling and social media. Reince Priebus and company want a reduction in the number of presidential debates and to move the national nominating convention earlier in the year than August because the races are pretty much over by then.

I’ve read the autopsy report at length. As a plan to redesign the box the pizza came in, it’s pretty much what you’d expect. The problem is, I can’t find any recommendations for a more positive message or to eliminate the social issues that’ve angered voters and cost the GOP recent elections. No new plans for improving the quality of candidates fielded or concrete steps for real inclusion and outreach. Nothing to improve the pizza inside. It’s all remodeling the box.

There’s no mention of ending Republican-sponsored efforts to erect barriers to minority voting, for example The report talks about “connecting” with minorities. But how to you do that truthfully when the Party has been proven to be the sponsor of congressional and legislative attempts to keep minorities from the polls?

You won’t find a new, more moderate position on gay marriage, either. How do you tell the LBGT community you want to include them for their votes but you deny them access to CPAC or other Republican programs?

I found nothing about outreach to low income families with messages of how the Party can be a “home” for them. Hard to do that when you’re the political party trying to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and even women’s health care. What kind of “home” is that?

Respected political writer Charlie Cook has been looking at Republicans and their plans for the future. He’s come up with an intriguing finding which could really sink what the Party is trying to do to attract minorities. Congressional Republicans used the 2010 census to gerrymander election districts. Fact. Democrats probably would’ve done the same if they’d had a majority.

When the GOP set up new, redrawn districts to assure Republican protection for current officeholders, it twisted the lines big time so the Republican base would be inside and would exclude those likely to vote for a Democrat. Minorities were cut out wherever possible. Problem with that, according to Cook, is inside those lines you have a lot of older, white voters and very few minorities. The GOP base. So, as a future candidate of a party trying to attract minority voters with a new message, even if you convince them, they can’t vote for you. They’re in the heavily Democrat districts the GOP created. And the old, white base is shrinking quickly. “Hoist on your own petard” as the saying goes.

The new “autopsy report” isn’t good news for thinking Republicans who want their party’s fortunes to improve. It’s new paint and new recaps on a 1983 Plymouth. No matter how good it looks outside, the running parts inside are all 30 years old. Add what this report proposes to the gibberish, rejected candidates and one-liners from the CPAC meeting, and underlying messages aren’t going to appeal to more voters than they did in 2012.

About all the money spent on this Republican plan has done is give Democrat professionals even more reason to look for major party gains in 2014. And 2016. And 2020. And???

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Rainey

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BUDGET INTERACTIVE Should’ve been the state, specifically the legislature, doing this. But there’s nothing wrong with the effort by the Seattle Times: An interactive that allows people to make their own choices about what the state budget should look like. Budget choices are priority choices, after all. The Times introduces its interactive this way: “State lawmakers have a big problem: The next two-year state budget faces a shortfall of up to $1.3 billion. And on top of that, the state Supreme Court has said Washington isn’t meeting its obligation to fully fund basic education. Meeting that mandate could cost an additional $500 million to $1.7 billion over the next two years, depending on whom you ask. Here’s your chance to decide how you would balance the state budget and increase education funding at the same time.” But did they have to call it a budget “game”?

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