Monday will be a big day for Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican Party. He will announce the results of a task force he convened, following last November's election, which he asked to "figure out what we can do to grow our party and win more elections."
The "Growth & Opportunity Project" (G.O.P) is chaired by five prominent Republicans, including Henry Barbour, the formidable nephew of former GOP chairman Governor Haley Barbour, and Ari Fleischer, the former White House press secretary under President George W. Bush. Priebus and members of the GOP reached out to party and elected officials, community leaders across the nation, as well as donors.
Priebus has posted a tape on the G.O.P. web site that gives supporters a hint of what's to come in Monday's event. "We are going to take the lead in technology, from data analytics to digital," he says, while announcing the party will hire a chief digital technology officer. Led by the efforts of President Barack Obama's campaign organization, Democrats are well ahead of Republicans with digital campaign tactics. Priebus also promises to "refocus our ground game", another Obama campaign strength, and to offer an "optimistic message." Really?
It appears that Chairman Priebus considers Republican shortcomings as nothing more than a messaging problem. That if Republicans could reach out to more Americans, extending a friendly hand and a warm smile, the party rolls would swell and it would win more elections. This has to be great news for Democrats.
As Priebus was putting the final touches on his task force report, Republican Congressman Paul Ryan, the losing vice presidential candidate, was announcing his latest federal budget proposal. His proposal, which he projects will cut government spending growth over the next decade by $5 trillion, hits the poor and middle class hard. Medicare would be voucherized, placing the burden on the elderly to find affordable quality care and pay for any cost differential. It would block grant Medicaid, shifting the problem to the states. Of course, the winners in Ryan's proposal are the wealthy.
So while Ryan's budget takes a huge whack at social programs, Republicans are still out of step with the majority of Americans on social issues. Florida Senator Marco Rubio drew a loud applause at the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) convention Thursday when he said, "The people who are actually closed-minded in American politics are the people who love to preach about science with regards to our climate but ignore the absolute fact that science has proven that life begins at conception." On gay marriage, he said, "Just because I believe that states should have the right to define marriage in the traditional way does not make me a bigot."
The Republican solution to immigration reform is more troops on the border and taller fences. The Republican solution to the epidemic of gun violence in America is more weapons. The Republican solution for reducing unemployment is to slash the government payroll during an anemic economic recovery. The Republican solution for federal debt is to balance the budget on the backs of the poor. The Republican solution for universal health care is the nearest hospital emergency room.
Also speaking at the CPAC convention was South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who bragged to thunderous applause, "Every election in our state now requires photo ID before your vote." That's because the Republican solution to its election losses is to disenfranchise minorities through photo ID laws and reduced voting booth access.
Memo to Democrats: remember the wise words of the great Republican strategist, Lee Atwater, who said when your opponent is self-destructing, just get out-of-the-way.
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