A voter in the hand is worth two in the focus group
By Michael R. Shannon
web posted April 8, 2013
It's remarkable that the political party allegedly joined at the hip with Big Business has such an incredible problem with a basic operational task like marketing. Somehow when it came time to divvy up the commercial sector, the Republicans got all the boring accountants, while the Democrats scooped up all the cool art directors.
Confining Republican outreach efforts to shareholder annual meetings and Daughters of the American Revolution gatherings is obviously not working. We're going to have to get a "twitter" and compose some "twits" er, "tweets" if the GOP intends to become the happenin' party.
Fortunately, great minds are at work on this project and they have arrived at a solution. Over the next few years the GOP will be including up a storm. According to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, the party will be establishing "swearing–in citizenship teams" to approach the newly naturalized with the new, improved GOP message.
I have this mental picture of first contact that's a combination of ‘The Andromeda Strain' and ‘Alien' but I'm sure that's too harsh. No doubt the teams will be so earnest they squeak when they walk and they will have memorized an "elevator speech" for new citizens who get within range. Assuming Organizing for America and the SNAP people have not hogged all the good tables at the accompanying trade show.
But that's not all, this "not your grumpy old man's GOP" will also reach out to minorities who didn't get here by crossing a river. Priebus says, "We will talk regularly and openly with groups with which we've had minimal contact in the past: LULAC, the Urban League, the NAACP, NALEO, La Raza. And we will take our message to college campuses, with an especially strong focus on Historically Black Colleges and Universities." And I suppose if the communists were still around, Republicans would have coffee with the KGB.
What he expects to accomplish by reaching out to the already convinced remains to be seen. I don't recall being approached by a Honda salesman as I drove off the lot in my new Infiniti. A more useful approach to me would be contacting minority homeowners in suburban neighborhoods that are mixed racially and politically. Your chances of finding an open mind are vastly greater there than at the NAACP or Urban League.
Still, even if you find an open mind, there is the problem of party beliefs that are still a source of embarrassment to many in GOP leadership.
Which is why Priebus' handpicked committee has come up with a solution. All national Republicans have to do to achieve presidential success is become Democrats, or more specifically Southern Democrats, since we won't agree to spend as much money as the Yankee Dems.
And current or holdover members of the GOP base will be permitted to retain some conservative social views, but we are urged to avoid discussing our feelings in polite company or any gathering that includes representatives of the news media.
It's "don't ask, don't tell" applied to an entirely different demographic group.
Specifically, the Priebus group claims it is "not a policy committee" and then recommends "comprehensive immigration reform," which is code terminology for amnesty; and a change in "issues involving the treatment and the rights of gays," which is code for quit criticizing Adam and Steve if they want to get "married."
This is beyond strange. NRC big thinkers want the party to work hard to accommodate the views of two demographic groups that have no interest in voting for us so we will what? Get kinder treatment on MSNBC? Meanwhile the people composing the base of the party are alienated by their betters.
Undocumented Democrats are not going to vote Republican after receiving amnesty. You can get the details here. And homosexuals are not going to give up the best tables at trendy restaurants so they can break bread with Ralph Reed at CPAC. And speaking of Ralph, who is the founder of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, he takes a dim view of the report, "If the Republican Party tries to retreat from being a pro-marriage, pro-family party, the big tent is going to become a pup tent very fast." And he adds, "I am concerned that some in the party are going wobbly on this issue," which is putting it mildly.
As for amnesty, a Washington Post/ABC poll found that Republican party members opposed amnesty by a margin of 60 to 35 percent, with 5 percent refusing to answer since the question was not in Spanish.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, proposes to hit the GOP where it hurts when he says, ""I would not give my money to the national party, to the national Republican Party. I would not give it to the RNC, I would not give it to the Republican Senatorial Committee nor to the Republican Congressional Committee," which pretty much covers all the bases.
Good advice, particularly when you consider the recent lawsuit filed over entertainment problems in connection with last summer's Republican National Convention.
Now I'm not referring to the run–of–the–mill lawsuit involving some rookie advance man who plays an unauthorized version of In–A–Gadda–Da–Vida at a rally to get the crowd fired up. (Usually the 17–minute album version, since even the most ancient, establishment Republican officeholder can shuffle up to the stage in that length of time.)
When Tom Petty or Heart or John Mellencamp demands a GOP candidate stop using their song, it's not necessarily due to a disagreement on the issues. (Buying weed has taught them all about the free market and specifically the theory of supply & demand.) It's because they know if the public starts associating their music with the accountant party, instead of the art directors, any hope of a revival tour will dry up.
No, I'm referring to the lawsuit that reveals the people in charge of entertainment at the convention offered Lady Gaga $1 million to perform.
For those readers who still miss Anita Bryant and may not be up to speed on Gaga, here is a brief rundown of her background. She's a homosexual activist who supports homosexual marriage, the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," enjoys performing in her underwear before large crowds and appears in blasphemous music videos.
And if that wasn't enough, she thinks the rich don't pay enough taxes!
There is no tactful way to say this. These people are idiots and have no idea what they are doing. Money given to them is by definition wasted. Even if by some stroke of misfortune Gaga had agreed to appear, there is no telling what she would have done once she was on stage.
That would have been a real two–fer: national laughingstock and object of scorn by the delegates. Besides convention delegates don't go to hear Lawrence Welk or Wendy O. Williams. They go for the privilege of waiting in security lines, sitting on uncomfortable chairs, wearing silly hats, listening to obscure arguments and being bored by long–winded speakers.
Besides the panic currently being experienced by national GOP leadership is misplaced. As Michael Medved has helpfully pointed out the Republican vote among 18 to 29 year olds increased to 37 percent, a significant boost from 2008's 32 percent. Voters under 30 of the white persuasion went for Romney over Obama by a strong 7 percentage points. It was minority Obama generating sympathy and solidarity among minority youth that won him that demographic's vote. A situation unlikely to be repeated when the white brothers: Hillary or Joe, run in 2016.
Finally, if simple outreach and individual contact is the root of the problem, why don't we try marketing the existing recipe before we start tinkering with the product?
Meanwhile, if Chairman Priebus wants to generate excitement and attract more and trendier youth to GOP conventions, do what they do in Trinidad: Serve rum backed with plenty of drums.
Michael R. Shannon is a public relations and advertising consultant with corporate, government and political experience around the globe. He is a dynamic and entertaining keynote speaker. He can be reached at mandate.mmpr (at) gmail.com. He is also the author of the forthcoming book: "Funny Conservative" Is Not an Oxymoron. (Or any other type of moron.)