Sunday, December 07, 2008


As a result of a resounding loss at the polls in November, the leaders of the Republican Party have been pushing an intense effort to reexamine the Party and position it to win in the future. Some of the talk comes from talking heads on radio and television who claim affiliation with the Party but have no actual position within the leadership and have no elected position; they continue their rants about returning to the roots of the Party, being true to the ideals of Ronald Reagan, and defending American culture from further erosion. The talking heads seem to want to re-energize the base, to strengthen the appeal of the GOP to the existing Party members. The discussion that comes from people actually in the Party leadership or holding office is more subtle and looks for ways to broaden the appeal of the Party outside the base. In both cases, they often talk about the "brand" of the Republican Party.

A "brand" is a symbol of a corporation or organization that is intended to communicate the essence of the entity to a consumer. In modern practical usage, brands are often false. It is not true that using a certain shampoo, toothpaste, or car will make a consumer happier or more attractive to partners, but branding is often constructed to give precisely that impression. The essence of the company or the product remains unchanged while branding manipulates only the perception of the product.

When I combine these two ideas, it is clear that some "leaders" in the conservative movement of the US are attempting to redefine and change the perception of the Republican Party. They are not attempting to understand the underlying issues nor craft new proposals to solve the problems. They are not attempting to make their current positions more clear. They are changing the wrapping without changing the contents. Their goal is to win elections and thereby impose their will. This is not democracy and these leaders should be called to answer for their attempt to confuse and outwit those that they pretend to serve. Some of the self-described leaders of the Party are intellectually and ethically bankrupt if they think that changing the perception is the same as changing the reality.

Much better would be Republican leaders who revisit the principles that lead to the losses and the polls, determine if they are relevant or stale, and freshen the ideas of the Party. Instead of putting lipstick on the pig, they should think about an exercise program to get that pig lean and in shape for the next competition.

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