GOP Needs To Rebrand Itself To Build A Lasting Majority

Original Article

With the majority of American people holding Washington in low esteem bordering on disdain, November elections will hopefully provide a corrective.

According to Gallup, CBS/New York Times and ABC/Washington Post, more than 80% of the American people polled disapprove of the job that Congress is doing, and the Republican Party that controls the House of Representatives has been labeled “the party of no.”

But that characterization may better describe the Democratic Party, where in the Senate, under Harry Reid’s leadership, 150 jobs-related bills passed by the House have been tabled — preventing any policy debate or vote.

Views of Republicans as the party of rich white elitists and Democrats as champions of the people are incorrect, even absurd., which tracks federal campaign contributions and lobbying, shows the GOP has lost out to Democratic Party fat cat contributors by $416 million over the last 25 years.

David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin think the funding disparity favoring progressives is even greater. In their recent book, “The New Leviathan,” they estimate the Republican Party is outspent in politics nearly 7-to-1, based on all the factors and indirect benefits the Democratic Party gets from the nonprofit sector, left-wing activism, public and private sector unions, Wall Street banks, universities and the media.

It turns out that the Koch brothers, owners of the second-largest private company in America — who get demonized for their support of grassroots Tea Party and conservative organizations such as Americans for Progress — are totally outgunned by the moneybags on the left.

The top 10 unions have given more than $335 million to the Democratic Party in the last 25 years, while the Kochs shoveled some $18 million to the Republican Party. In the same period, the top 10 Democrat donors gave over $485 million to their party, compared to $271 million given by the top 10 donors to the Republicans.

Polls show Americans identifying themselves as conservative outnumber those who identify themselves as liberal by a wide margin. It follows that in vote buying, liberals spend far more than conservatives. Which is another way of saying the general message of conservatives is an easier sell than that of liberals.

Money is always important, but what’s most important is having policies and ideas that resonate with the majority, and then aligning campaign messaging so the electorate really gets it.

The combination of the unpopularity of ObamaCare and the boom provided by energy resource discovery and technology-driven recovery provide a historic opportunity for the GOP to rebrand itself and educate the electorate in three areas of economic public policy.

Republican candidates would do well to re-establish the GOP as the party of freedom and opportunity. A good start would be to hammer home how ObamaCare was not just an ill-conceived policy that was poorly implemented, but a political scheme to expand control over peoples’ lives designed by Democratic Party elitists in Washington.

No tinkering with a bad law. ObamaCare must be repealed and replaced by reform that increases choices; improves quality and reduces costs through competition, tort reform and medical savings accounts; allows access to insurance providers across state lines; and provides for portability of coverage, independent of employer.

Next, the GOP should focus on energy and rebrand itself as the party of energy independence for the U.S. within five years. By advocating the responsible opening up of federal lands to modern and safe drilling technologies to develop vast new stores of oil and gas, energy prices would fall and tax revenues would increase.

Jobs would be created not only in the drilling and energy service industry, but in new energy-intensive factories being built and relocated to the U.S. — notably steel, aluminum and chemical production. At the same time, increasing U.S. energy export capacity would diminish threats from the Middle East and Russia.

Third, the GOP should rebrand itself as the party of the entrepreneur. Tax credits to encourage innovation, capital investment and repatriation of foreign-held capital in large companies have broad appeal.

Small-business enterprise is a natural constituency of Republicans if they champion regulatory reform that includes tax simplification and the relief and elimination of time-wasting and counterproductive regulations.

In short, the corrective that the majority of the electorate wants revolves around common-sense interests that diverge from many of the narrow issue choices and priorities of special interests in Washington.

By rebranding itself, the GOP can drive the real corrective this November by fielding and supporting candidates of character, principle and courage who put the people’s interest first in these three areas.

Combining new-found energy resources with entrepreneurial creativity would be a national and global game changer — delivering prosperity and national security for all Americans.

Scott S. Powell

Senior Fellow, Center on Wealth and Poverty
Scott Powell has enjoyed a career split between theory and practice with over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur and rainmaker in several industries. He joins the Discovery Institute after having been a fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution for six years and serving as a managing partner at a consulting firm, RemingtonRand. His research and writing has resulted in over 250 published articles on economics, business and regulation. Scott Powell graduated from the University of Chicago with honors (B.A. and M.A.) and received his Ph.D. in political and economic theory from Boston University in 1987, writing his dissertation on the determinants of entrepreneurial activity and economic growth.