McCain and the Republican Party Brand
Posted by Ryan on May 21, 2008
I just read this Politico piece by John Feehery on the Republican Party’s relationship with McCain. His take is that Bush stalwarts like Hastert, Lott, and Delay are no longer on the scene and McCain, ever the frustrating maverick, is now the presumptive GOP nominee. Hence, the maverick becomes the savior in lieu of the Republican’s crushing Congressional defeats of late.
My take is simple: whenever the Republican Party gets wimpy and vague, it is going to lose. After seventy years of playing identity/socialist politics, the Dems have the (undeserved) reputation of being the “nice” ones. Republicans don’t have that reputation because ever since FDR, Americans have elected Republicans to do the dirty work of cleaning up Democrat messes (Ike was elected to fix the Korean War, Nixon was elected to fix Vietnam, Reagan was elected to fix everything Carter did, Dubya was elected to fix our image after BJ). So if we’re going to run a campaign with pale pastels against the Dems, the folks go with the trusty nice people: the Dems. Ugh. Running to the middle has been our problem because the American people see no differences or alternatives: hence an animus towards the Party in the White House… us!
It’s not that conservatism has failed, it’s that the potential practitioners wussed out before doing enough great or significant things, falling victim to the Washington big-government=power/popularity culture. The pale pastel approach will lead to serious electoral disaster this Fall, as it has in those three districts, especially with a potentially jazzed Obama base with a tested 50-state organization, ready to pound McCain and the Republican brand name into serious minority status.