The Republican Party released a report of deep introspection this week, and the reactions to the “GOP Autopsy” continue. The report championed the need for the party to re-brand. Naturally, that kicked off more of the “grassroots versus party bosses” and “Tea Party versus Establishment” arguments that have waged for months.
Those are false arguments. The real failing of the “GOP Autopsy” is that it exists at all. The report has quite a few excellent ideas, but the first rule of re-branding is not to say you are re-branding. Making a big public show about a new image suggests that image is skin deep. Memos like this are best kept internal. When the memo inevitably leaks to the media, the right answer is, “Our party always looks at new ways to help great candidates bring their message to the people.”
The real answer to a political party’s woes – whether Republicans in 2012 or Democrats in 2004 – is to have party identity take a back seat to a good candidate that people can identify with. A more welcoming candidate than John Kerry could have beaten George W. Bush in 2004; a more welcoming candidate than Mitt Romney could have beaten Barack Obama in 2012. That makes organizing, candidate recruitment down ballot, messaging, and getting out the vote a lot easier.
(Sidebar: When discussing publicly the future of any political organization, it’s probably best not to refer to that discussion as the dissection of a dead body. A corpse is a bad metaphor for “new and revolutionary.”)