The Resistance To Republican Rebranding

by Patrick Appel

Chait wonders whether House Republicans will prevent the GOP from nominating a candidate who can rebrand the party:

Republicans can escape the damage inflicted by its Congressional wing by nominating a candidate who runs against it in 2016. That’s what the party did in 2000: George W. Bush made a few comments distancing himself from Congress, and that was enough to clear him of all the branding damage the Republicans Revolutionaries had done for a half dozen years and position himself as a moderate. It didn’t stop Bush from governing hand-in-glove with the selfsame Republican Congress once in office.

So the danger for Republicans isn’t that they’ll lose the House. It isn’t even that they’ll irrevocably poison their own brand. It’s that they’ll create an intra-party orthodoxy so strong it will prevent them from nominating a candidate who can distance himself from Steve King’s racial ideology and Paul Ryan’s economic ideology. In the meantime, they can inflict an awful lot of damage to the country at very little cost to themselves.

Humphreys thinks that the GOP has stopped listening:

As Mark Kleiman has noted, the American left lost on the crime issue starting in the 1960s and 1970s because it stopped listening to the public (not unlike how the left later lost the public education issue).

The extraordinary surge of crime that began in the 1960s caused enormous suffering. And when Americans are suffering, they get very angry when politicians tell them their suffering is no big deal (“Many neighborhoods are as safe as ever!”), or is really due to something else (“We don’t have a crime problem, we have a poverty problem!”), or that the public should apologize for being upset (“Complaining about crime is just coded racism”). Americans who feel unheard often express their anger by voting for some politician — any politician — who seems to be listening. And when it came to crime, for many years most of those politicians were conservative.

Liberals were in shock on crime policy for a long time afterwards. They had been talking amongst themselves when they should have been listening to people outside the bubble. California Republicans made the same mistake when they decided to go anti-immigrant in the 1980s. The Tea Party is committing the same blunder right now as they plan out where they will store all the roses the public will supposedly buy them if the federal government is shut down on October 1. Failure to listen isn’t a left or right thing. Rather, it’s a thoroughly human weakness about which political parties should be constantly vigilant.