Earlier today, Newt Gingrich appeared on CBS This Morning to explain just how far in the hole Republicans are in relation to Democrats in voter outreach. “You can’t just be an opposition party,” Gingrich warned. “You have to be a party that has a better alternative.” Even when the GOP has a better alternative, though, the party lost elections it should have won because of poor strategy and direction from its consultant class.
Gingrich isn’t just voicing that message on the airwaves. He met yesterday with Republican staffers on Capitol Hill on strategy and messaging, and a Congressional aide has passed along Gingrich’s handout at the meeting to Hot Air . Gingrich warned Republican staffers that Barack Obama has a strategy of “relentless cynicism” and demagoguery, designed to marginalize Republicans as “extreme,” and relying on the media to carry his water:
- There will be a permanent 24/7 campaign to dominate the media
- There will be a constant issue focus shifting to topics which isolate Republicans and arouse the President’s allies at the grassroots
- Relentless cynicism will characterize the manipulation of facts, the choice of issues and the willingness to harm the American people and American institutions ( “maximum pain for political gain” is the underlying system)
- The entire coalition of left wing allies will be mobilized over and over to overmatch the Republicans ( think Planned Parenthood, Sierra Club, unions, gay rights groups, etc etc)
- The Republican Party will be relentlessly attacked and defined in extremist language ( anti-immigrant, homophobic, racist, waging war on women, etc) so the collapse and isolation of the brand makes candidates unacceptable and unelected with no regard for their personal characteristics
- The 2012 turnout mechanisms will be modernized, improved and strengthened to try to make 2014 turnout resemble 2012 rather than 2010.
The first step toward countering this strategy, Gingrich warns, is to admit that the gap exists in the first place. Gingrich believes that Republicans still haven’t come to grips with the disparity between the two parties in speed and strength, and until the GOP gets past that denial, “they will continue to lose ground.” Republicans then need to “match or surpass the combination of data and behavioral science” that proved so effective for Team Obama in 2008 and especially 2012.
Forget “red and blue,” too, and although Gingrich doesn’t explicitly say it, the 47% argument, too. Republicans have to address the “311,000,000 Americans who deserve a better life than the Obama big government redistributionist model can give them.” The GOP has to have an alternative that they can “communicate effectively, emotionally and in a compelling human way,” and learn how to handle the media more effectively as well.
Demographics are a big concern with Gingrich, and the only path to success is broadening the GOP’s brand to minority voters. “Every Republican incumbent, leader and candidate,” Gingrich advises, “should allocate one third of their time meeting with minority Americans,” and be accountable to that in measurable data. That doesn’t just mean face time, either, but a “listen-learn-help-lead” model that requires real engagement and long-term commitment to constituencies on which the GOP gave up years ago.
This isn’t new, of course; Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan have urged the Republican Party to start going back to the urban centers that Democrats have had by default for decades, and I wrote after the election about the need to provide real solutions based on conservative principles that will actually help ordinary voters in these communities and address their concerns. That’s the “listen-learn-help-lead” model; if all we ever do is the first stage, it’s not much of a mystery why we fall behind. Gingrich put this into a concrete model for the GOP to follow in his briefing yesterday, and we will see whether anyone chooses to put this into action.
Here are the notes in full: