The plan to grow the Republican Party, released Monday by the GOP's national chairman, is advertised as a deep digging, honest review of the 2012 election cycle. Cleverly titled "Growth & Opportunity Project," the 100-page document purports to lay out a path forward the Republican Party can take to ensure success in winning more elections.
Requested by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, who hails from Wisconsin and recently won a second term as national party chairman, the GOP report listed recommendations in eight categories—messaging, demographic partners, campaign mechanics, friends and allies, fundraising, campaign finance and the primary process—the party can take to staunch the beating it's taken in national races, of which it's lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential races—which has taken a toll, evidenced by the lowest percentage in modern times of Americans who see the party positively.
According to a CNN/ORC International poll, less than three in ten say they view the GOP in a favorable light. Americans [54%] have an unfavorable view of the Republican Party.
While the report is replete with well intentioned recommendations drawn from data that represents the shifts in voter sentiments from last year's presidential election, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, arguably one the GOP's starting first-team possible presidential candidates four years hence, may have summed it up best last week during the speech he delivered at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
"We don't need a new idea. There is an idea. The idea is called America, and it still works."
Democrats have interpreted comments from Sen. Rubio and others that, even though Mitt Romney wasn't the ideal conservative candidate and the message of working your way up the economic ladder wasn't told as it should have been, the most cherished GOP ideals of independence, personal responsibility and self-sufficiency, private trumps public and government must always be handmaiden to private interests least it zap will and ambition will remain the same.
In voting from CPAC, Sen. Rubio landed 23 percent to Kentucky Senator and Tea Party movement favorite Rand Paul’s 25. Of the 23 potential candidates on the ballot including 44 write-ins, Paul and Rubio were the only two people to score in double digits. One reason that helps explain the vote is that many of today’s college Republicans lean libertarian. Rand Paul won the 2013 vote just like his father, retired Texas Congressman Ron Paul, won CPAC's vote last year.
In the four months since the nation rehired President Obama for a second and final term, Republicans and their allies and enemies have taken to dissecting why Mitt Romney and his running mate, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, were sent packing when they believed to the bitter end that that's what Barack Obama and family would be doing.
Just last week Congressman Ryan released his newest and even more austere budget, a document the Democrats are holding up a proof the GOP is either blind or defiant to why President Obama is still living in the White House instead of his home in Chicago.
Republicans in the House of Representatives, led by House Budget Chairman Congressman Ryan, will "vote to give the wealthiest Americans a massive tax cut paid for by seniors, middle-class families, and students," Florida Congressman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said in an email.
"This is a wake-up call. Last year's election didn't make the Republicans' policies any less extreme, and it didn't make them any less eager to enact them," she said, further defining the Democratic strategy to let Republicans be Republicans. Wasserman Schultz asks Americans to stand with "President Obama and my Democratic colleagues to make good on the progress Americans voted for this past November ..."
"We've accomplished a tremendous amount together over the past four years, but it couldn't be more clear that our opponents will roll all of that progress back if we give them a chance. Let's not give them one," she said.
Writing in the Washington Post, Greg Sargent said Republican intransigence on taxes will result in Republicans falling short of the entitlement cuts they long for as they demand President Obama prosecuting their interests on Congressional Democrats to relent on adjustments to Medicare and Social Security a majority of Americans say they don't want enacted.
From House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, new revenue is a non-starters for the GOP conference. Continued GOP opposition to the White House on this and other issues from immigration to gun violence control to a healthcare will only reinforce why the party lost badly to every demographic group except aging white men.
Republicans, who President Obama engaged in a series of meetings last week the media dubbed his "charm offensive" to seek common ground with them, are pushing Rep. Ryan's budget, which analysts say is even more harsh than the one the GOP lost on last November. Jonathan Weisman, writing in The New York Times, summed it up this way, " ... with no regrets and few efforts to reframe it even rhetorically…Republicans in the House and Senate are standing firmly in the way of Mr. Obama's second-term agenda, with a message that is striking when set against the results of an election just four months ago: Mr. President, you have to come to us."
As appealing as the GOP's GOP project is, a thorough reading dissuades anyone from thinking Republicans are about to change their value or ideological spots, held over decades, enough to provide voters with a clear choice between today's Tea Party movement driven Republicans and Republicans of days gone by, like Ronald Reagan who raised taxes nearly a dozen times or even Richard Nixon, whose history is packed with programs and policies like the Environmental Protection Agency and Housing and Urban Development, which by today's CPAC-oriented advocates would be verboten.
Today's tussle between President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans over the federal budget underscores the wide abyss between the reigning majority parties.
In Sen. Rubio's speech at CPAC, he defended traditional marriage, opposed abortion and showed his conservative bona fides by expressing skepticism on climate change. Even though he didn’t dwell on these topics, last fall's election showed that unless and until the GOP offers up candidates, policies and programs that align with a growing majority of Americans who increasingly are accepting positions the GOP long thought were trump cards by opposing them, it's own rebuilding plan could become the Democrats best wrecking ball, as it hopes to boost its brand as soon as the 2014 midterm elections at the expense of a fractured GOP.
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