By Dave Stancliff/For The Times-Standard
The majority of Republicans today recognize they have to change the party’s brand if they want to get back into the White House.
Many are still stunned that their candidate was so decisively beaten in all the demographics that mattered. There are however, a minority of Republicans who would rather change election rules than admit their message didn’t resonate with the majority of Americans.
The 150 members of the Republican National Committee met on Jan. 23, and re-elected Reince Priebus as their National Chairman. They discussed the best ways for the party to go forward. Priebus appeared to give the okay to some proposed changes to the Electoral College system when the subject came up:
“I think it’s something that a lot of states that have been consistently blue and are fully controlled red ought to be looking at,” he was quoted as saying in the Washington Post.
The members looking to change the system were from the battleground states the Democrats won in the last two presidential elections. According to the Washington Post, Republicans in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia proposed awarding their Electoral College votes by congressional district instead of the winner-take-all approach used by every state except for two - Maine and Nebraska.
The reason was blatantly apparent; the proposed changes would have given them a victory against President Obama in the last election, and would be a real advantage for the next GOP presidential candidate.
The Republican Party currently has the battleground states firmly in control at the state level. The cover story for voters is a song-and-dance about smaller communities getting more of a voice in those states.
Since the RNC meeting however, Virginia decided not to join the other states when Republican Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell opposed the idea. Joining him in opposition was Republican Sen. Ralph Smith, Bedford County, and Subcommittee chairwoman Jill Vogel.
I applaud Virginia for not going along with this naked attempt to change the rules. It goes to show there are Republicans who recognize things need to change, but not by changing the rules.
Everyone within the Republican Party agrees change is in order if they want a future as a viable party. The problem is the leaders are at odds over too many issues.
In a recent AP interview, Michael Hudome, a national GOP media strategist said, “We don’t look organized, we look chaotic, we look like wussies, like we’re caving in to the President. We’re not fighting properly. The Republican caucus appears fractured.”
When you look at Priebus’s response to changing the game in those battleground states, you can see even he was torn after initially giving it a nod. He turned around and also said “…those proposed changes are short-sighted for two reasons. One, the Republicans pushing for them are all but acknowledging their party problems heading into 2016 are so significant that they have to change the rules to win. In other words, they are throwing in the towel and trying to rig the system.
“Two, the proposed changes would only speed up efforts to have a popular vote - and not an Electoral College - decide presidential contests, because many would see that as a fair system.”
The last thing the GOP Party wants is a Presidential election by popular vote. One of the many challenges facing the Republican Party’s re-branding is reaching out to minorities. Even the most stubborn conservative pundits have come to that conclusion. But how to reach out to a majority they hardly know and understand? They can’t afford to rely on angry white men to win in 2016.
One of the most obvious ways for Republicans to gain people’s confidence would be to quit trying to cheat their way into power. Blatantly changing the rules doesn’t make the GOP look like the people’s party. It’s just another example of why the brand has faded into a group of quarreling ideologues who are more obstructionists than nation builders.
Hudome’s hope for the GOP’s credibility lies with Congress hanging together in coming negotiations with President Obama and getting “…some serious spending cuts,” in places sacred to the party. He feels that will go a long way in restoring the brand. Maybe so. But I think the brand will need a lot more than that to change most people’s perception. It’s time GOP party members roll up their sleeves and hit the streets if they hope to get the middle class and minorities to vote for them.
As It Stands, I know one thing for sure, if the GOP offers up another slate of reactionaries like this last time they can kiss all their efforts goodbye!