Government & Politics

The GOP Brand Is Becoming Toxic

It's about time Republicans returned to their roots.

Arnold Ahlert · Jan. 4, 2016

For the last few years, many people have been calling for the formation of a third political party. The latest budget deal demonstrated the error of that thinking: What America really needs is the formation of a second one.

After the deal was announced, the nation was forced to endure yet another round of media-trumpeted “bipartisanship.” Collusion is more like it, and the ones getting colluded against are average Americans who will be underwriting this 2,000-page paean to special interests. One that keeps upping an already unaffordable national debt, and makes a complete mockery of the notion we have at least one party dedicated to smaller, more responsible government. In fact the cheerleaders of this monstrosity ought to be required to answer a simple question:

What’s the compromise position between fiscal solvency and national bankruptcy?

Of course no one will ask such a question because it would force the surrenderist faction of the GOP to explain why they completely ignored the “stop Obama” mandate handed to them by voters in the 2014 mid-term elections. Economics aside, much of that mandate centered on public frustration with the de facto invasion occurring at our southern border. This bill just funded every progressive agenda item that aids and abets that invasion, including illegal alien resettlement programs, and Barack Obama’s constitutionally suspect executive amnesty agenda.

“There is a reason that GOP voters are in open rebellion,” explains Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL). “They have come to believe that their party’s elites are not only uninterested in defending their interests but — as with this legislation, and fast-tracking the president’s international trade pact — openly hostile to them.”

That’s because they are. And while those elites and their media allies ring their collective hands over the success of Donald Trump, it apparently hasn’t occurred to them that they are the primary architects of Trump’s success.

A political party is two things: a conglomeration of people with a similar ideological agenda, and a brand. The Establishment GOP is on the verge of discovering a very uncomfortable truth: when you water down your ideology, you destroy your brand.

When the GOP had complete control of the federal government during the first six years of the Bush administration, they embarked on an unconscionable spending spree that remained the gold standard for fiscal irresponsibility until the Obama administration topped it. Even worse, they expected their base to be gulled into believing that “compassionate conservatism” was a different animal than “tax-and-spend liberalism.”

It wasn’t then, and it isn’t now. In 2000, the national debt was $5.6 trillion. Today it is $18.7 trillion — and the new budget will add another $830 billion to the national tab.

During his speech at the Republican National Convention in 2012, then-Vice Presidential Candidate Paul Ryan stated a simple truth: “We need to stop spending money we don’t have.” Here’s a simpler truth: Americans are sick of voting for politicians who promise one thing when they campaign, and do another after they’re elected. Now-House Speaker Ryan has precious little time to prove he’s not John Boehner Jr., and that he’ll practice what he preaches. So far, not so good.

Whether or not Trump ends up as the GOP standard-bearer, one thing is certain: If Republicans can’t beat a candidate like Hillary Clinton, a serial liar who has compromised national security — when she wasn’t busy implementing one of the worst foreign policy agendas in the history of the nation during her tenure as secretary of state — they may be all done at the national level.

None of this downward spiral happened overnight. For decades the GOP has allowed Democrats, with an ample assist from their media water-carriers, to define both the Republican Party itself and frame the issues. As a result, the GOP supposedly became the “party of Wall Street” inhabited primarily by “old, white, country club racists” looking out for no one but themselves and their well-connected buddies. That George W. Bush appointed a more diverse set of Cabinet members and top advisers than any president in history? That the GOP established itself as the anti-slavery party, while Democrats were busy establishing the Ku Klux Klan and turning the South into a stronghold of white racism that endured for decades? That at one point, no one took more money from Wall Street than Obama, or that Clinton has deep ties to the same deep pockets? History is apparently irrelevant, even when the GOP’s brand is getting trashed on a regular basis.

As for issues, when Democrats painted any attempt to require voter ID as racist, Republicans meekly responded by stating that it wasn’t. A real opposition party would have reframed the issue by pointing out nothing is more racist than a political party that assumes an entire ethnic group is fundamentally incapable of procuring the same voter ID as every other group of Americans. The so-called war on women? For the very first time, a Republican candidate named Trump has made it clear to Democrats that if they insist on playing that game, serial philanderer/sexual predator Bill Clinton will be an integral part of the conversation.

One doesn’t have to be a supporter of Trump to admire a GOP politician willing to fight at the same gut level Democrats have been plumbing for decades, while their GOP opponents embraced a Marquis de Queensberry flaccidness that routinely infuriated their base. A flaccidness that has done more to destroy the Republican brand than anything else.

Recently, the fast-food restaurant chain Chipotle discovered what happens to its brand when it poisons its customers with E. coli. The Establishment GOP may soon discover what happens to its brand after years of poisoning the base with promises that bear no semblance whatsoever to what it actually delivers. Nothing has facilitated the current success of so-called GOP “outsiders” more than an American electorate completely fed up with the idea that voting for the “lesser of two evils” is the best they can do.

This year, that message couldn’t be clearer. A Republican Party that rejects or ignores it is pushing its brand to toxic levels. A healthy political system necessitates opposing points of view. Anything less is ruling class tyranny. It’s real simple, GOP: embrace your roots — or embrace your extinction.

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