Does the GOP have a Jack Kemp today?

posted at 10:01 am on March 22, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

After the election, I wrote that what the Republican Party needs to expand its appeal isn’t a dramatic shift in policy as much as a concrete, practical set of policies that matter to voters who have historically shunned Republicans.  They have a model to follow — Jack Kemp, who set out to make conservatism practical and meaningful in core urban areas, in order to head off the disasters he knew would come, and which has already arrived in Detroit, for instance.  Rich Lowry wonders whether the Republican Party even has someone of Kemp’s vision on the bench these days:

And so much depends on substance. No “rebranding” will make a difference if Republican policy is not relevant to people’s lives. What the party desperately needs more than different marketing or new political consultants are a few Jack Kemps, political entrepreneurs willing to ignore orthodoxies and evangelize for new ideas.

Kemp did his most important work as a backbencher in the House. Where is his equivalent today? It’s too bad John Boehner, Eric Cantor and Kevin McCarthy don’t tell some promising member to spend the next three months coming up with 10 ideas for promoting work in America, or for a new welfare reform agenda, or for replacing Obamacare, or for making college affordable. Instead, it’s all federal debt, all the time. …

The Republican Party can study itself to death and hire the world’s best marketers, but without some Jack Kemps it will only be dressing up stasis.

“Rebranding” not only misses the point, it’s the problem.  The GOP has become all brand, no beef.  No one doubts the importance of dealing with the federal debt, but on practically all other issues, the Republican Party has become a gaggle of philosophers instead of crafters of specific policies.  We are entering a third year of GOP House control, and there hasn’t been much in the way of specific legislation to address these issues.  No one, it seems, wants to propose real policies based on living in those core urban communities to make the lives of voters better through conservative principles.  Small wonder those voters end up believing that Republicans don’t offer any solutions because they either have none or don’t really care about the issues in the first place.

Jack Kemp put his feet on the ground and worked to find solutions that would solve actual concrete problems.  That lack of focus since his time as Bob Dole’s running mate in 1996 has contributed mightily to the erosion of credibility the GOP has suffered in places that are costing them elections.  A political party that provides no solutions won’t remain relevant for long.

Speaking of which, though, the Democrats may be creating relevance issues of their own. In my column for The Fiscal Times yesterday, I note that while the “47 percent” remark turned the GOP into a caricature of itself, Democrats are busy living up to their own stereotype as the “tax and spend” party of old:

David Brooks, the moderate New York Times columnist, issued an alarm on Tuesday over the “progressive shift” in Democratic policies.  He looks at the House Democratic budget proposal, and notices that they want another tax hike – and a big one.  Instead of pushing the top rate just to 39.6 percent, as they managed to do in January, Democrats now want a top rate of 49 percent.

“There’d be new taxes on investment, inheritance, corporate income, financial transactions, banking activity and on and on,” Brooks explains.  “Today, especially after the recent tax increases, the total tax burden is already at historic highs. … In fact, the entire Democratic governing vision, from President Obama on down, is based on the notion that we can have a growing welfare state and pay for it by taxing the top 2 percent.”

Brooks isn’t the only commentator in the center making this point.  After years of pushing the notion that Republicans are protecting the wealthy from taxes, the ultra-liberal Bill Maher finally decided to check on who actually “pays the freight” in the US.  Surprise! It’s him:

“You know what?” Maher told his audience. “Rich people … actually do pay the freight in this country.  I just saw these statistics. I mean, something like 70 percent. And here in California, I just want to say liberals — you could actually lose me. It’s outrageous what we’re paying — over 50 percent. I’m willing to pay my share, but yeah, it’s ridiculous.”

Maybe both parties need to become their caricature to finally put them to rest.  It seems as though the GOP is farther along that path than Democrats — or are at least more aware of the problem.

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Speaking of which, though, the Democrats may be creating relevance issues of their own. In my column for The Fiscal Times yesterday, I note that while the “47 percent” remark turned the GOP into a caricature of itself, Democrats are busy living up to their own stereotype as the “tax and spend” party of old

The Dems’ problem could be far worse. First, because they’re spending way way way more than they’re taxing which has us on the path to bankruptcy. And second, because of all that spending, they have to either raise taxes on the middle class, soak the rich even more(which will drive that money to other countries as France showed us), or cut spending which will alienate their base.

Doughboy on March 22, 2013 at 10:04 AM

Jack Kemp would be branded a rino by the rabid conservative base today and run out of town.

John Huntsman seems like a Jack Kemp to me.

nonpartisan on March 22, 2013 at 10:05 AM

My money is on Cruz. Yeah yeah, he will probably confound and eventually disappoint me, but right now I’m keeping the faith. What else can you do, it’s not like the current clowns in Congress inspire any sort of hope and confidence, I’m simply picking the best of the worst.

Bishop on March 22, 2013 at 10:07 AM

‘Minority outreach.’ ‘Another Jack Kemp.’ ‘Rebranding.’

I think all of this totally misses the mark – much like the previous republican presidential campaign strategy missed the mark, as compared to the vastly superior ‘O’ I.T. early voting perpetual campaign machine.

The real problem is you have a majority of the electorate who is tone deaf, dumb and blind to even the definition of republican government (the form, not the party).

And I blame gub’mint school indoctrination. Literally.

locomotivebreath1901 on March 22, 2013 at 10:09 AM

Paul Ryan is the one, unless he’s changed too much over the years since he worked for Kemp.

Lightswitch on March 22, 2013 at 10:09 AM

The other problem is that today Kemp would be dismissed because he’s too white, too male, and is far too family oriented. Liberals are focused on those outward indicators, they couldn’t care less about experience or ability.

Bishop on March 22, 2013 at 10:14 AM

Jack Kemp would be branded a rino by the rabid conservative base today and run out of town.

John Huntsman seems like a Jack Kemp to me.

nonpartisan on March 22, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Hilarious. Thanks for the advice.

NJ Red on March 22, 2013 at 10:16 AM

Between intensive brainwashing by public schools, colleges, TV channels, and printed media, one’s chance to become a conservative upon growing up are vanishingly slim. One’s chances to develop common sense and critical thinking are even slimmer.

I said before, and will repeat again: unless and until Republicans invest in their own education-oriented TV channels – and I mean school level education, not Animal Planet hype – and expand from there, they are doomed for the history dustbin in two decades. That is, unless the entire country beats them to it.

Archivarix on March 22, 2013 at 10:25 AM

“Rebranding” not only misses the point, it’s the problem. The GOP has become all brand, no beef.

Can’t agree with this enough.

Want to see the worst-case scenario here, look to the UK. Tories spent all of the Blair years “rebranding” and “rebranding” again. Once they finally found the right “brand” to win (or as close to winning as one could call 2010), it was with all-time squish David Cameron leading a government of weaklings and statists that make Churchill roll in his grave wondering at what point the iron curtain shifted west to the North Atlantic.

Every step of “rebranding” was a step away from what worked under Thatcher for more than a decade. Our constant “rebranding” will only do the same, shifting us from the conservatism of the Reagan era. Dealing with an electorate that can at times be dumber than dogturds is never easy, but when given only the option between Marxism and Marxism-lite, they’re always going to go for the real thing.

Gingotts on March 22, 2013 at 10:30 AM

Jack Kemp would be branded a rino by the rabid conservative base today and run out of town.

nonpartisan on March 22, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Why do you liberals keep providing unwanted commentary and suggestions? We don’t care what you think.

And, BTW, you know the quickest way to be branded a RINO? Ignore social conservatives concerns and call them rabid or out-of-touch.

Happy Nomad on March 22, 2013 at 10:31 AM

Now which presidential race did Jack Kemp win? He was a likable fellow, no doubt, but the republican machine chose dinosaurs over him when they had the opportunity. And Jack although full of ideas, was a proponent of using government investments to cure inner city ill’s and was tagged with the moniker of being a bleeding heart conservative, the precursor to our compassionate conservative, George W. Bush.
It’s time we stopped looking for progressive Republicans to provide the nations with a democrat light candidate and put someone up with true vision and conservative credentials and the ability to communicate those values.

RAN58 on March 22, 2013 at 10:33 AM

Brooks isn’t the only commentator in the center making this point. After years of pushing the notion that Republicans are protecting the wealthy from taxes, the ultra-liberal Bill Maher finally decided to check on who actually “pays the freight” in the US. Surprise! It’s him:

“You know what?” Maher told his audience. “Rich people … actually do pay the freight in this country. I just saw these statistics. I mean, something like 70 percent. And here in California, I just want to say liberals — you could actually lose me. It’s outrageous what we’re paying — over 50 percent. I’m willing to pay my share, but yeah, it’s ridiculous.”

Well, well, well. Talk about being late to the party. Hey, Maher, this is how the Dems have always wanted things. You were too clueless to grasp it until they started wanting more out of your pocket.

Bitter Clinger on March 22, 2013 at 10:35 AM

unless and until Republicans invest in their own education-oriented TV channels – and I mean school level education, not Animal Planet hype – and expand from there, they are doomed for the history dustbin in two decades.

This. Instead of complaining into the next millenium about liberal media, the R’s should be taking your advice.

Lightswitch on March 22, 2013 at 10:35 AM

Happy Nomad on March 22, 2013 at 10:31 AM

I’m not a liberal. But your response is exactly the type of rabid foaming at mouth conservative that is ruining the republican partys chance of ever governing.

nonpartisan on March 22, 2013 at 10:35 AM

Archivarix on March 22, 2013 at 10:25 AM

Pol Pot and Mao Ze Dong would like to have a word with you about setting up ‘re-education’ camps.

nonpartisan on March 22, 2013 at 10:36 AM

RAN58 on March 22, 2013 at 10:33 AM

Do you think it’s possible that Kemp may have done better had he not been tied to Dole?

Lightswitch on March 22, 2013 at 10:37 AM

Jack Kemp would be branded a rino by the rabid conservative base today and run out of town.
John Huntsman seems like a Jack Kemp to me.
nonpartisan on March 22, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Thanks for a good laugh. Do you really think any of the lawmakers today are “rabid conservative”? They are just talking about reducing the growth in government.

As for Jon Huntsman – The guy who knows Mandarin? Same guy? Ha ha ha… You are funny.

antisocial on March 22, 2013 at 10:37 AM

There is probably no bigger Jack Kemp fan on this site than me. I frst heard him speak in 1978 and followed him ever after. I briefly worked for him when he was Secretary of HUD and helped implement some of his agenda there. Later, I met him when he spoke at some fundraisers I helped with in San Diego. My photo with him is one of my proudest possessions.

But the fact is, Jack Kemp got nowhere as a national Republican leader. The Party as a whole never embraced his ideas or philosophy. He was the “happy warrior” who always lost.

Paul Ryan is open about being a Kemp protege and wanting to carry on his legacy. Look up the speech he gave to the Kemp Foundation right after the election. Kemp himself could easily have given that speech. But Ryan chose not to make the Kemp agenda the focus of his career; he chose istead to be the budget guru and the numbers guy.

The vast majority of Republicans live in the suburbs and rural areas. They simply do not care about what happens in or to our cities, or to the people who live in them. The “we need another Jack Kemp” cries always come from the campaign pros in Washington who live in the city or near it and see how badly the GOP is getting crushed in urban areas. But actual Republican voters don’t care.

rockmom on March 22, 2013 at 10:37 AM

A lot has changed in 20 years.

And the idea that today’s Democrites care about or even want solutions – that do not coincide with their Big Government Welfare state takeover – is disgustingly NAIVE !.

FlaMurph on March 22, 2013 at 10:38 AM

Does the GOP have a Jack Kemp today?

Sadly, no. Which is why I feel lucky to have seen, and corresponded with that good man in my lifetime.

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on March 22, 2013 at 10:38 AM

How is the urban problem a problem that can be Constitutionally addressed by Congress? It is a state and local problem. The best thing Congress can do is remove themselves from the issue.

huckleberryfriend on March 22, 2013 at 10:38 AM

Jack Kemp would be branded a rino by the rabid conservative base today and run out of town.

John Huntsman seems like a Jack Kemp to me.

nonpartisan on March 22, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Hilarious. Thanks for the advice.

NJ Red on March 22, 2013 at 10:16 AM

+1000

Yeah, when I think of today’s Jack Kemp,
the guy with the Smirk permanently marring his face
is who I think of…

ToddPA on March 22, 2013 at 10:39 AM

Does the GOP have a Jack Kemp today?

…I’m more worried about…any of them having any ba11s today!

KOOLAID2 on March 22, 2013 at 10:39 AM

Now which presidential race did Jack Kemp win? He was a likable fellow, no doubt, but the republican machine chose dinosaurs over him when they had the opportunity. And Jack although full of ideas, was a proponent of using government investments to cure inner city ill’s and was tagged with the moniker of being a bleeding heart conservative, the precursor to our compassionate conservative, George W. Bush.
It’s time we stopped looking for progressive Republicans to provide the nations with a democrat light candidate and put someone up with true vision and conservative credentials and the ability to communicate those values.

RAN58 on March 22, 2013 at 10:33 AM

This. All Kemp wanted to do was federalize the process of cleaning up these cities. And the credit would have gone to the Dems from those cities who created their own messes in the first place.

Plus Kemp was a pro-choice guy. He didn’t bash the pro-life movement (as far as I know), but that doesn’t exactly mesh up with conservatism in my mind.

Bitter Clinger on March 22, 2013 at 10:40 AM

I’m not a liberal. But your response is exactly the type of rabid foaming at mouth conservative that is ruining the republican partys chance of ever governing.

nonpartisan on March 22, 2013 at 10:35 AM

Oh please! You could declare yourself the Queen of England but that wouldn’t make it true. And might I remind you that the GOP does control one half of the legislative branch and has the majority of Governors by far. So your talk of the GOP’s demise is as believable as the idea you are something more than a paid concern troll for OFA or one of the other media outlets controlled by America’s enemies.

Happy Nomad on March 22, 2013 at 10:41 AM

Does the GOP have a Jack Kemp today?

Yes, we have lots of high profile conservative Congressmen who will never become POTUS.

Valkyriepundit on March 22, 2013 at 10:42 AM

Gingotts on March 22, 2013 at 10:30 AM

Excellent post. Jack Kemp was a huge fan of Margaret Thatcher and in fact took some of his biggest ideas from her agenda, especially turning long-term public housing residents into homeowners and deregulation of industries like air travel and oil and gas. The best rebranding of conservatism was that done by Thatcher prior to her election. I was a College Republican when that was happening and we did some of the same rebranding stuff with young people leading up to Reagan’s election in 1980.

It’s a shame that most people remember Kemp only for his tax cut plan which Reagan adopted and later implemented.

rockmom on March 22, 2013 at 10:43 AM

I remember listening to a Hannity interview of Jack Kemp just before the first bank bailout.. during the 08 campaign.

They were discussing TARP. What I heard from Jack Kemp was pretty disappointing. Not only was he supporting TARP but he was mocking anyone who questioned TARP. He was angry during the interview and was directing his anger at anyone, including Hannity, who dared suggest it wasn’t needed.

He sounded like a hardcore big government lib. I heard this myself and was completely shocked at his tone and his ideology.

He died less than a year after that interview so maybe he had lost some of his insight. Or maybe he was old enough to where he just didn’t care anymore and was showing his true colors.

It would be pretty interesting if there was a way to listen to that interview again today.

JellyToast on March 22, 2013 at 10:43 AM

The other problem is that today Kemp would be dismissed because he’s too white, too male, and is far too family oriented. Liberals are focused on those outward indicators, they couldn’t care less about experience or ability.

Bishop on March 22, 2013 at 10:14 AM

Liberals know who the GOP base voter is and wants the GOP to pick candidates who do not reflect or identify with that base. So far they have been successful in the last two presidential elections.

They have a model to follow — Jack Kemp, who set out to make conservatism practical and meaningful in core urban areas, in order to head off the disasters he knew would come, and which has already arrived in Detroit, for instance.

I remember when the Dole/Kemp ticket carried Detroit in ’96. Oh, wait: two Southern white guys creamed Dole/Kemp in Detroit.

Wake up, Conservative Inc., and understand that Santa Claus always wins.

Punchenko on March 22, 2013 at 10:43 AM

That’s really an unflattering picture of Jack Kemp. Hot Air must be anti-conservative or something.

Happy Nomad on March 22, 2013 at 10:44 AM

The vast majority of Republicans live in the suburbs and rural areas. They simply do not care about what happens in or to our cities, or to the people who live in them. The “we need another Jack Kemp” cries always come from the campaign pros in Washington who live in the city or near it and see how badly the GOP is getting crushed in urban areas. But actual Republican voters don’t care.

rockmom on March 22, 2013 at 10:37 AM

The people in the urban areas are quite capable of getting off their s$$es and fixing some of their problems. But instead they wait for some savior to come along and fix it for them. There is no savior that is going to do that.

Bitter Clinger on March 22, 2013 at 10:44 AM

Jack Kemp would be branded a rino by the rabid conservative base today and run out of town.

John Huntsman seems like a Jack Kemp to me.

nonpartisan on March 22, 2013 at 10:05 AM

I’m not a liberal. But your response is exactly the type of rabid foaming at mouth conservative that is ruining the republican partys chance of ever governing.

nonpartisan on March 22, 2013 at 10:35 AM

Sorry. You’re a liberal.

BuckeyeSam on March 22, 2013 at 10:47 AM

The people in the urban areas are quite capable of getting off their s$$es and fixing some of their problems. But instead they wait for some savior to come along and fix it for them. There is no savior that is going to do that.

Bitter Clinger on March 22, 2013 at 10:44 AM

Kemp saw the issue as bringing jobs, property ownership, and economic development back to the cities. He believed that people who became homeowners, small business owners, and job creators would eventually vote conservative. He championed small things like allowing poor women to open a daycare in their home without having to have a degree in early childhood education or get expensive permits and such from local governments.

He came along at a time when de-industrialization was the big issue. The issue now with which conservatives are actually in alignment with inner-city residents is school choice and education reform. the “next Jack Kemp” will be the person who can really capture this issue and demonstrate how it will transform our cities and get people out of poverty.

Dr. Ben Carson, perhaps?

rockmom on March 22, 2013 at 10:52 AM

I’m sorry…David Brooks, a moderate? David Brooks, a centrist?

Egad.

Cylor on March 22, 2013 at 10:54 AM

Why do you liberals keep providing unwanted commentary and suggestions? We don’t care what you think.

And, BTW, you know the quickest way to be branded a RINO? Ignore social conservatives concerns and call them rabid or out-of-touch.

Happy Nomad on March 22, 2013 at 10:31 AM

This staid comment qualifies as rabid, foaming at the mouth conservative commentary according to nonpartisan?

O_o

The threshold seems…..low.

Bishop on March 22, 2013 at 10:56 AM

I’m not a liberal. But your response is exactly the type of rabid foaming at mouth conservative that is ruining the republican partys chance of ever governing.

nonpartisan on March 22, 2013 at 10:35 AM

What the hell is “governing” to you fools? Cutting checks to morons with money we do not have is not good governance. Turning the US into Detroit is certainly not good governance.

You and yours need to realize you’re on the wrong side of history, Mr. Nonpartisan. To be frank: The adults (me) will not be wiping your a** forever.

Sooner or later you’re going to have to live in Detroit and like it because I’m not working harder and paying more taxes to keep your suburb criminal-free and functional.

Punchenko on March 22, 2013 at 10:57 AM

Why do you liberals keep providing unwanted commentary and suggestions? We don’t care what you think.

And, BTW, you know the quickest way to be branded a RINO? Ignore social conservatives concerns and call them rabid or out-of-touch.

Happy Nomad on March 22, 2013 at 10:31 AM

Happy Nomad on March 22, 2013 at 10:31 AM

I’m not a liberal. But your response is exactly the type of rabid foaming at the mouth conservative that is ruining the republican Republican partys party’s chance of ever governing.

nonpartisan on March 22, 2013 at 10:35 AM

I can see why you are so upset. Happy Nomad really gave you a tongue lashing.

BuckeyeSam on March 22, 2013 at 10:59 AM

He believed that people who became homeowners, small business owners, and job creators would eventually vote conservative.

rockmom on March 22, 2013 at 10:52 AM

Now we know better, don’t we?

Punchenko on March 22, 2013 at 11:01 AM

Jack Kemp was a welfare-statist, as was Reagan. You can’t keep lowering tax rates if you are going to continue to increase the welfare-state.

rickv404 on March 22, 2013 at 11:02 AM

John Huntsman seems like a Jack Kemp to me.

nonpartisan on March 22, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Find a treatment center. You obviously have a substance abuse problem.

portlandon on March 22, 2013 at 11:09 AM

“You know what?” Maher told his audience. “Rich people … actually do pay the freight in this country. I just saw these statistics. I mean, something like 70 percent.

This suggests one of the many things I find troubling about the GOP. They never seem to have authoritative talking points to hammer home to people who stay remotely engaged. It’s March 2013 and Maher is only recently realizing how skewed the income tax revenue sources are? The point is that the U.S. doesn’t have even rich people to carry the rest of the country for what Democrats what to provide.

But on to the Jack Kemp point. Who cares? Voters of color do not want to listen to older white guys. I’ve read twice in the past week how the Romney camp either stifled or disregarded efforts to get the campaign into communities other than the base. Allen West complained about this, and Rep. Steve Pearce (R.-NM) did too.

For the welfare moochers, the message will be lost. But why the GOP doesn’t identify an army of black conservatives and send them out into black communities to talk about the alternatives of remaining in poverty or assuming personal responsibility and rising from one’s circumstances. Most conservative blacks I’ve seen have tremendous stories. Two issues that should resonate are K-12 education and the need to escape bad schools created by Democratic policies and the effect of minimum wage on black youth unemployment. Hispanics have the education issue, but I think Hispanic conservatives could also be in that community lauding legal immigration because amnesty violates the rule of law and it creates in government an arbitrary way of picking winners and losers.

BuckeyeSam on March 22, 2013 at 11:12 AM

I’m not a liberal. But your response is exactly the type of rabid foaming at mouth conservative that is ruining the republican partys chance of ever governing.

nonpartisan on March 22, 2013 at 10:35 AM
Oh please! You could declare yourself the Queen of England but that wouldn’t make it true. And might I remind you that the GOP does control one half of the legislative branch and has the majority of Governors by far. So your talk of the GOP’s demise is as believable as the idea you are something more than a paid concern troll for OFA or one of the other media outlets controlled by America’s enemies.

Happy Nomad on March 22, 2013 at 10:41 AM

Well said Happy Nomad. For those with selective memory, Jack Kemp was a Rino by all standards, even 25-years ago. Nice guy, but big government was not a fear he held dear!

tomshup on March 22, 2013 at 11:12 AM

tomshup on March 22, 2013 at 11:12 AM

nonpartisan on March 22, 2013 at 11:27 AM

^^

I just love being proven right :)

nonpartisan on March 22, 2013 at 11:28 AM

What is about this question of a present-day Jack Kemp that has attracted a moronic troll? Ah well…

Anyway, I’d love to see a pro-growth conservative populist emerge from the crowd. A “happy warrior” type of leader with a clear understanding of the huge benefits of smaller, less expensive, and less intrusive government is just who we really need. A leader who can make the “economic growth lifts all boats” argument. Unfortunately I just don’t see one yet, though Scott Walker is intriguing.

MTF on March 22, 2013 at 11:28 AM

“Rebranding” not only misses the point, it’s the problem. The GOP has become all brand, no beef.

Ding! Ding! DING!

Bingo.

Megadittoes

+100

petefrt on March 22, 2013 at 11:35 AM

rockmom on March 22, 2013 at 10:52 AM

He championed small things like allowing poor women to open a daycare in their home without having to have a degree in early childhood education or get expensive permits and such from local governments.

This is no small thing, imo. Thanks for posting it.

Kemp had a sunny optimism like Reagan had. I don’t think the idea of the article is to determine how conservative Kemp was or wasn’t. There hasn’t been a “cheerful warrior” to espouse general conservative principles in a long time, and Kemp was willing to take his ideas to the inner cities. Contrast that with the R’s who parachute in only at election time.

Lightswitch on March 22, 2013 at 11:39 AM

A kind of silly and moot question. For one, I’m not sure “Jack Kemp” was even Jack Kemp. And even if we had a Jack Kemp as we may be imagining him, was he or would his reimagined self be better equipped to deal with the Left? For this is the central challenge of our time. Whatever you have to offer, you will face the bristling cultural gatekeepers of the Left — whose numbers and viciousness will match the value (i.e., threat) of your message.

That’s why all these tortured self-analyses of rebranding and manifestos of Republican re-messaging are almost meaningless. They don’t grok the central challenge.

Michael Walsh summarizes the only lesson we need to understand and internalize into a “rebrand.”

“Fight. Fight them on every front, fight them in every state, fight them on television and in print and on the airwaves. Confront them at every opportunity, seek out and embrace conflict, and fear not bullies like Chuck Schumer (the living embodiment of the Lefty Sneer), Dick Durbin, and passive-aggressive corruptocrats like Harry Reid. Don’t make nice with them, don’t play fair with them, don’t reach across the aisle and above all, treat them and their ideas with exactly the same amount of respect with which they treat yours: none. Contempt is the only language they understand.”

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/343320/fight-michael-walsh

rrpjr on March 22, 2013 at 11:52 AM

The vast majority of Republicans live in the suburbs and rural areas. They simply do not care about what happens in or to our cities, or to the people who live in them. The “we need another Jack Kemp” cries always come from the campaign pros in Washington who live in the city or near it and see how badly the GOP is getting crushed in urban areas. But actual Republican voters don’t care.

rockmom on March 22, 2013 at 10:37 AM

The rural/suburban focus is part of the GOP’s demographic problem, as the country is growing more urban/suburban and rural counties are losing population. Here’s a good article on the issue:
http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/01/12/rural-decline-congress/1827407/

cam2 on March 22, 2013 at 12:08 PM

I remember when the Dole/Kemp ticket carried Detroit in ’96. Oh, wait: two Southern white guys creamed Dole/Kemp in Detroit.

Wake up, Conservative Inc., and understand that Santa Claus always wins.

Punchenko on March 22, 2013 at 10:43 AM

Bob Dole’s campaign was undercut by Clinton’s poll-driven “embrace” of welfare reform and subsequent “proclamation” that “the era of big government is over.” Plus Dole was the dullest and least inspiring candidate the GOP could have ever nominated, well, up until 2008…

Outside of JFK selecting LBJ as veep in 1960, can anyone really cite a VP nominee who actually influenced the campaign of the former? (McCant’s selection of Palin in 2008 kinda made an impact… until McCant suspended his campaign and endorsed TARP.)

Myron Falwell on March 22, 2013 at 12:32 PM

It’s March 2013 and Maher is only recently realizing how skewed the income tax revenue sources are? The point is that the U.S. doesn’t have even rich people to carry the rest of the country for what Democrats what to provide.

BuckeyeSam on March 22, 2013 at 11:12 AM

No, it’s 2013 and Bill Maher realizes why he has work in a Democrat-run town. The man is not stupid and will always sing for his supper.

But on to the Jack Kemp point. Who cares? Voters of color do not want to listen to older white guys. I’ve read twice in the past week how the Romney camp either stifled or disregarded efforts to get the campaign into communities other than the base. Allen West complained about this, and Rep. Steve Pearce (R.-NM) did too.

BuckeyeSam on March 22, 2013 at 11:12 AM

So you’re going to send in white college Republicans into Detroit to carry the message of taking personal responsibility and hard work? That’ll go over well.

Is Allen West going to go door to door, all by himself, to tell AA voters not to vote for the first AA president who will hand out more benefits and special privileges? Do you think this message will resonate? Do you think people who vote Democrat really want equality of opportunity over equality of outcome?

Not everyone, believe it or not, wants the same America as you do. Not everyone wants to work hard in the America that you want and are very content lounging about and having you foot the bill.

Like Bill Maher, these folks aren’t stupid — oh, and they’re winning. Government dependency is not slavery to these folks. No, slavery is going to work everyday, forking over your income, and paying for the true masters who get to lounge about and take advantage of special privileges whether they are Bill Maher or some lady with nine kids and an Obamaphone.

Meanwhile you jump through hoops, working, struggling, and spend your spare time trying to sell your vision of America to your masters in the hope they will vote for your party that would effectively take their power away. They’re not about to let that happen. And they have numerous organizations to remind them of what Buckeye Sam’s America looks like: work, hard work, and the spoils going to the smart and hard workers.

No one wants that — at least not those who vote Democrat.

For the welfare moochers, the message will be lost. But why the GOP doesn’t identify an army of black conservatives and send them out into black communities to talk about the alternatives of remaining in poverty or assuming personal responsibility and rising from one’s circumstances.

BuckeyeSam on March 22, 2013 at 11:12 AM

Some folks don’t see it as poverty when their basic needs, and then some, are taken cared of with minimal effort on their part. It’s actually quite nice to live in a community that you love and have other people taking care of you with no effort on your part. It’s like one, long extended summer vacation when you’re young and your parents take care of you.

Two issues that should resonate are K-12 education and the need to escape bad schools created by Democratic policies and the effect of minimum wage on black youth unemployment.

BuckeyeSam on March 22, 2013 at 11:12 AM

K-12 education begins with parenting. Good luck with teaching parenting skills. It’s also the job of the child to actually take an interest in his or her education like Dr. Carson did with good parenting. Without good parenting a natural curiosity (and work ethic), you’re not going to have good students.

Hispanics have the education issue, but I think Hispanic conservatives could also be in that community lauding legal immigration because amnesty violates the rule of law and it creates in government an arbitrary way of picking winners and losers.

BuckeyeSam on March 22, 2013 at 11:12 AM

Why would Hispanic conservatives be against more Hispanics? More Hispanics — voting Hispanics — only increases the value and power of the existing assimilated American citizen Hispanics and their consulting firms. You need to stop believing that everyone wants to live in your America — they don’t. They want to live in *their America* where they have all the money and the power — even if it comes at the expense of BuckeyeSam, his values, his property, and his liberty.

Stop thinking everyone is as noble as you are because they’re not.

Punchenko on March 22, 2013 at 12:42 PM

But on to the Jack Kemp point. Who cares? Voters of color do not want to listen to older white guys…But why the GOP doesn’t identify an army of black conservatives and send them out into black communities to talk about the alternatives of remaining in poverty or assuming personal responsibility and rising from one’s circumstances…I think Hispanic conservatives could also be in that community…Hispanics have the education issue…

BuckeyeSam on March 22, 2013 at 11:12 AM

I disagree, Mon Frere. To say that blacks and Latinos would shun a white visitor is like saying that Social Conservatives would never-ever-never consider voting for a moderate.

If you build it, they will come.

~ Field of Dreams

The first time I voted Republican circa 1990/1992, a young Irish Catholic running for State’s Attorney named Jack O’Malley came to the ‘hood, shaking hands, passing our “Back Jack!” buttons, and fastball pitching the GOP brand to crowds that came and went from noon til around 8.

He won in a landslide, the only Republican to win Statewide Office. And he garnered 31.5% of the black vote in 18 black Chicago wards.

Mr. O’Malley went on to become a Judge, and is now a Law Professor.

Eighty percent of success is showing up.

~ Woody Allen

Jack Kemp “showed up” on the South Side in ’96, the year he was V.P. nominee. He played to a packed house. His optimism, enthusiasm, and unvarnished faith in minority businesses earned thunderous applause. In the weeks following, I tried to pass along Mr. Kemp’s exciting proposals to business people, and wealthy relatives who were not in attendance. The most frequent response I got was: “Let me know when Bob Dole is coming. Then I’ll listen.”

Disheartened, I sent a letter to the D.C. Dole/Kemp headquarters, asking Mr. Kemp when his presidential nominee would be in Chicago to deliver a Community Empowerment message, too.

His response was overwhelming. Long story short: I’ve never received such a package of position papers (with the politician’s circling key points and scribbling personal notes in the sidelines). But it was clear that they were Jack Kemp’s own vision, and no, Mr. Dole wasn’t coming.

So I shut up about the whole thing and told myself that hey, they were gonna vote for Clinton/Gore anyway. My cherished package from Jack Kemp is a sweet and bitter reminder of how we all, all of us, seem to have given up on one another.

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on March 22, 2013 at 12:47 PM

Where’s Ed?

Blake on March 22, 2013 at 12:56 PM

I remember when the Dole/Kemp ticket carried Detroit in ’96. Oh, wait: two Southern white guys creamed Dole/Kemp in Detroit.

Wake up, Conservative Inc., and understand that Santa Claus always wins.

Punchenko on March 22, 2013 at 10:43 AM

Bob Dole’s campaign was undercut by Clinton’s poll-driven “embrace” of welfare reform and subsequent “proclamation” that “the era of big government is over.” Plus Dole was the dullest and least inspiring candidate the GOP could have ever nominated, well, up until 2008…

Outside of JFK selecting LBJ as veep in 1960, can anyone really cite a VP nominee who actually influenced the campaign of the former? (McCant’s selection of Palin in 2008 kinda made an impact… until McCant suspended his campaign and endorsed TARP.)

Myron Falwell on March 22, 2013 at 12:32 PM

My point is that pandering politicians like Kemp, who sell “limited government”, does not play well in minority communities. It’s that simple.

And all of the pandering and speeches (more like groveling) before the NAACP on “personal responsibility”, “alternatives”, and “limited government” has yet to move the needle for the GOP in those communities.

Oh, and the same message is also losing appeal in states like Iowa, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Minnesota which are Democrat. The voters said Obama care more about “people like them” than self-made Harvard man, Mitt Romney.

Again, like I said to BuckeyeSam, not everyone wants to live in your America. Many just want you to foot the bills and take the abuse in their America.

Punchenko on March 22, 2013 at 12:57 PM

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on March 22, 2013 at 12:47 PM

That’s a wonderful story, Ladysmith, and I wish it would move the needle for the GOP — but so far it hasn’t.

And even when we work hard placing conservative minorities in positions of power, the GOP is still knocked — very viciously — by the media, education, etc. as, well, you name it. And we still lose by huge margins with minority voters despite our best efforts.

And I personally have seen and worked first hand with a GOP outreach effort in a predominately poor and minority town; running an independent and conservative AA candidate; and reaching out to local churches.

We lost and lost bad. And I have been pretty pessimistic ever since that experience. I concluded the message just doesn’t sell and it is the economics and power of it all.

Personally,I just don’t see the GOP moving the needle — or winning elections before too long — unless they go back to “compassionate conservatism” on steroids and play the Democrats’ Santa Claus game. The trouble is we all know this is unsustainable and inevitably leads to Detroit.

Punchenko on March 22, 2013 at 1:10 PM

Punchenko on March 22, 2013 at 12:57 PM

With crappy, old, stodgy candidates that never wanted to embrace the message of conservatism in the first place, to say the message failed is ludicrous.

If the GOP ever nominated an actual conservative who is unashamed to say it, unafraid to espouse it, is youthful, vibrant, and able to articulate principles and policies without sounding like a wonk or a geek (sorry, Paul Ryan), and that candidate loses like Romney and McCant did… THEN we’ll agree that conservatism is unelectable in the urban areas.

But your point is based on the assumption that Dole, McCant and Romney were all bedrock conservatives that ran great campaigns, which I’m sorry, but that’s total fantasy. The GOP doesn’t win because they flat out don’t want to win and don’t want to make the effort to want to win. Reince’s disgraceful GOP autopsy this week proves that point for the whole world to see.

Myron Falwell on March 22, 2013 at 1:11 PM

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on March 22, 2013 at 12:47 PM

Again, Clinton played the GOP like a violin between 1995 and 1996. First assailing them non-stop for the “wanting to kill your children while pushing your cold, sick grandmother off a cliff while her face is stuffed with Alpo”, then forcing the government shutdown, and then doing a 180 on welfare reform and signing the bill after vetoing it twice. He succeeded in demogaging and then took away the central point of the GOP platform, paving the way for all Socialists to follow.

Quite frankly, that Dole preformed as well as he did was a minor miracle. He was a total contrast to Clinton. He was painted as old, boring, not inspiring, and depressing. Plus he was elevated to the nomination because it was “his turn,” and where have we heard that before?

Dole and Kemp never had a chance. Kemp, God bless him, could talk a good game, but he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Myron Falwell on March 22, 2013 at 1:20 PM

Punchenko on March 22, 2013 at 1:10 PM

I’m really sorry that your experience soured you. We will agree to disagree that what most minorities want is Santa Claus.

But I do heed your point that going to the NAACP is folly and just a show, for Republican politicians of any color. They are as insular, Country Club-ish, and out-of-touch as Mitt Romney going “Who let the dogs out Woof-Woof” to a bunch of black kids.

Your being a GOP worker for minority outreach is dandy. America needs 10,000 more like you. But even more, she needs Candidates who aren’t content to talk to a mirror, but come ’round to say “hi” like Jack Kemp did.

Heyyyy…Jack O’Malley/Jack Kemp? Maybe fearlessness is just a “Jack” thing.

To paraphrase George Will, post Romney/Ryan loss: ‘It’s bad when voters don’t like you. But it’s deadly when voters think you don’t like them.

Best to you, Punchenko.

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on March 22, 2013 at 1:39 PM

Dole and Kemp never had a chance. Kemp, God bless him, could talk a good game, but he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Myron Falwell on March 22, 2013 at 1:20 PM

True. But not just talk a good game, Mr. Kemp was a true believer. And yes, he was one of a kind, ahead of his time.

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on March 22, 2013 at 1:44 PM

With crappy, old, stodgy candidates that never wanted to embrace the message of conservatism in the first place, to say the message failed is ludicrous.

Myron Falwell on March 22, 2013 at 1:11 PM

The message did fail since Romney was not elected. More Americans, despite a lousy economy, thought Obama cared more about “people like them”. Hispanics also love, love, love Obamacare and the Obama campaign ran advertising highlighting Obamacare and its “benefits”.

Once again: The message failed, and it’s only going to get more challenging with demographic change that favors bigger and more generous government.

If the GOP ever nominated an actual conservative who is unashamed to say it, unafraid to espouse it, is youthful, vibrant, and able to articulate principles and policies without sounding like a wonk or a geek (sorry, Paul Ryan), and that candidate loses like Romney and McCant did… THEN we’ll agree that conservatism is unelectable in the urban areas.

Myron Falwell on March 22, 2013 at 1:11 PM

You mean… Marco Rubio? Hillary is currently beating him, and Jeb Bush (!), in Florida for 2016 according to the latest polls. Hillary is an old white lady, by the way, that doesn’t have the most charming personality or any charisma. Then again, Marco is not a real conservative is he — or so that will be excuse when Hillary trounces him; most especially with Hispanic voters in 2016.

So, why is Hillary beating both amnesty shills Rubio and Bush? Why do voters like her more?

But your point is based on the assumption that Dole, McCant and Romney were all bedrock conservatives that ran great campaigns, which I’m sorry, but that’s total fantasy. The GOP doesn’t win because they flat out don’t want to win and don’t want to make the effort to want to win. Reince’s disgraceful GOP autopsy this week proves that point for the whole world to see.

Myron Falwell on March 22, 2013 at 1:11 PM

No, my point is based on the facts, Myron: You either become Santa Claus, like the Democrats, or you continue to lose. Even the conservative gold standard himself, Ronald Reagan, lost AA voters 83% to 14% to Carter and Hispanics 56% to 37%. Reagan lost those voters despite the dismal Carter years, Myron. Reince and the Bush people are right and that big government “compassionate conservatism” is the only way forward now thanks to demographics.

http://washingtonexaminer.com/romney-wins-white-vote-by-same-margin-as-reagan-did-in-1980-landslide/article/2512819

But please, continue thinking limited government Reaganism will sell to minorities when clearly it didn’t even sell back when Reagan himself was pushing Reaganism. And no one — I mean no one! — could sell the American dream like Ronald Reagan. But then again, that was our American dream and not so much the American dream of Democrat voters.

Punchenko on March 22, 2013 at 2:10 PM

I’m really sorry that your experience soured you. We will agree to disagree that what most minorities want is Santa Claus.

But I do heed your point that going to the NAACP is folly and just a show, for Republican politicians of any color. They are as insular, Country Club-ish, and out-of-touch as Mitt Romney going “Who let the dogs out Woof-Woof” to a bunch of black kids.

Your being a GOP worker for minority outreach is dandy. America needs 10,000 more like you. But even more, she needs Candidates who aren’t content to talk to a mirror, but come ’round to say “hi” like Jack Kemp did.

Heyyyy…Jack O’Malley/Jack Kemp? Maybe fearlessness is just a “Jack” thing.

To paraphrase George Will, post Romney/Ryan loss: ‘It’s bad when voters don’t like you. But it’s deadly when voters think you don’t like them.

Best to you, Punchenko.

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on March 22, 2013 at 1:39 PM

We’ll see, Ladysmith. But like I said, I’m no longer optimistic that a limited government message can appeal to certain communities anymore and that maybe the Bush people were right all along.

I will most likely vote for either Rubio or Paul in ’16, but I just think it’s too late now to turn it around and shrink the power and growth of government.

Punchenko on March 22, 2013 at 2:18 PM

We’ll see, Ladysmith. But like I said, I’m no longer optimistic that a limited government message can appeal to certain communities anymore and that maybe the Bush people were right all along.

Punchenko on March 22, 2013 at 2:18 PM

It’s interesting you mention Mr. Bush. In his ’98 Gubernatorial race (reelection), he garnered 40% of Texas’ Latino vote, and 21% of the black vote. To wit: Stopping by to say hi to all the peeps may not put a candidate over the top but, like chicken soup for a cold, it couldn’t hurt.

;)

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on March 22, 2013 at 2:33 PM

With crappy, old, stodgy candidates that never wanted to embrace the message of conservatism in the first place, to say the message failed is ludicrous.

Myron Falwell on March 22, 2013 at 1:11 PM

The message did fail since Romney was not elected. More Americans, despite a lousy economy, thought Obama cared more about “people like them”. Hispanics also love, love, love Obamacare and the Obama campaign ran advertising highlighting Obamacare and its “benefits”.

Once again: The message failed, and it’s only going to get more challenging with demographic change that favors bigger and more generous government.

What part of “I am not ashamed of Romeycare” was conservative?

What part of “Obama is a nice guy… he’s just in over his head” was conservative?

What part of “he’s the Etch-A-Sketch candidate” was conservative?

If you really think that Romney campaigned on a message of conservatism, you need to get your head examined. And you should know better than to talk smack like that to me when I was goaded by your ilk into carrying the water for your failed moderate, non-conservative candidate.

If the GOP ever nominated an actual conservative who is unashamed to say it, unafraid to espouse it, is youthful, vibrant, and able to articulate principles and policies without sounding like a wonk or a geek (sorry, Paul Ryan), and that candidate loses like Romney and McCant did… THEN we’ll agree that conservatism is unelectable in the urban areas.

Myron Falwell on March 22, 2013 at 1:11 PM

You mean… Marco Rubio?

Nope. try again, bucko.

Hillary is currently beating him, and Jeb Bush (!), in Florida for 2016 according to the latest polls. Hillary is an old white lady, by the way, that doesn’t have the most charming personality or any charisma.

In polls three years before the fact. You are as bad as AP but without the melting bunny, the Humpbot or the snark.

Then again, Marco is not a real conservative is he — or so that will be excuse when Hillary trounces him; most especially with Hispanic voters in 2016.

Cry me a river, Rove-bot.

So, why is Hillary beating both amnesty shills Rubio and Bush? Why do voters like her more?

Or rather, do they see Rubio as NOT a conservative?

He is, after all, trying your advice, and it doesn’t seem to be working.

And why is that?

But your point is based on the assumption that Dole, McCant and Romney were all bedrock conservatives that ran great campaigns, which I’m sorry, but that’s total fantasy. The GOP doesn’t win because they flat out don’t want to win and don’t want to make the effort to want to win. Reince’s disgraceful GOP autopsy this week proves that point for the whole world to see.

Myron Falwell on March 22, 2013 at 1:11 PM

No, my point is based on the facts, Myron: You either become Santa Claus, like the Democrats, or you continue to lose. Even the conservative gold standard himself, Ronald Reagan, lost AA voters 83% to 14% to Carter and Hispanics 56% to 37%. Reagan lost those voters despite the dismal Carter years, Myron.

How many states did Reagan win again in 1980? And in 1984? And why is that?

Because the parties base turned out and voted for him.

Romney could get all the moderate votes in the world, but when the base abandons your preferred candidate like they did to him, you have no shot at winning. Do the math.

Reince and the Bush people are right and that big government “compassionate conservatism” is the only way forward now thanks to demographics.

http://washingtonexaminer.com/romney-wins-white-vote-by-same-margin-as-reagan-did-in-1980-landslide/article/2512819

Reince is a worthless, feckless little loser who is more intent on gaining power for himself. He doesn’t want to win. And what did eight years of “compassionate conservatism” get for us? Eight years of Obama.

That you even are promoting that argument renders you even more as a joke in my eyes.

But please, continue thinking limited government Reaganism will sell to minorities when clearly it didn’t even sell back when Reagan himself was pushing Reaganism. And no one — I mean no one! — could sell the American dream like Ronald Reagan. But then again, that was our American dream and not so much the American dream of Democrat voters.

Punchenko on March 22, 2013 at 2:10 PM

And keep dreaming of winning moderates, Hispanics and Dems when you tell your own parties’ base to take a hike. You are not on our side.

Myron Falwell on March 22, 2013 at 3:36 PM

And a PS: there is no way that a majority of African Americans will ever vote conservative. But if the GOP’s idea is to just paint themselves as sort-of liberal, sort-of big government statists in an attempt to curry favor with that group, they will never win another election of consequence in any of our lifetimes.

There are more provocative – and accurate – reasons for why this is the case. Bad non-conservative messaging by failed moderate POTUS candidates ranks waaaaaaaaaaaaay at the bottom of that list.

Myron Falwell on March 22, 2013 at 3:43 PM

Does the GOP have a Jack Kemp today?

Palin.

Palin 2016

ChuckTX on March 22, 2013 at 5:34 PM

Jack Kemp would be branded a rino by the rabid conservative base today and run out of town.

John Huntsman seems like a Jack Kemp to me.

nonpartisan on March 22, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Nonpartisan my tuchy. Kemp was an unabashed conservative that had morals and principles. Something that none of the current Repubelican leadership or members have. It is exactly why I, and many of my cohorts, left the party. Why do we need two Dimocrat parties? It is what we have.

What the Republicans need is someone who adheres to the conservative principles that are the core of the party philosophy and can communicate those principles as Kemp did. It obviously wasn’t Mitt Romney, and I’m not sure it is Marco Rubio, but he may be the best they have.

georgeofthedesert on March 23, 2013 at 5:44 PM