Since that fateful election day in November, Republicans have been struggling with their apparent obsolescence in the face of voters empowered by the Obama campaign to cast a ballot while reserving their critical thinking for other matters, like Justin Bieber. It’s become obvious that failing to embrace a rapidly changing culture is one of the key problems of the conservative message. And judging by the civil war now taking place inside conservative structures, no one really has a clue how to address the problem, other than to assume those darned kids will all just have to grow up sometime, or to continue the effort of putting khaki-pants-and-blue-blazer-sporting college Republicans in front of young audiences and assuming the spirit of Reagan will shine through their preppy exteriors and warm the very hearts of the cynical consumers of modern culture.
These ideas have, to put it in marketing terms, a slim return on investment, unless you’re happy to preach to the converted, as, of course, GOP movers, shakers and, most importantly, donors seem to be. The key, instead, seems to be following Marco Rubio’s lead, and in the footsteps of the most successful “liberal” cultural endeavors: injecting humor, self-parody and subtle themes into material that is genuinely entertaining, permeating the collective consciousness by embracing trends, using them and taking to heart that entertainment is now a core consumer value. Cultural consumers and “low-information voters,” as they’ve come to be known, now see political elections the same way they see any contest played out on reality television — as something to be viewed, enjoyed and participated in on their own terms — where personal brands and relationships matter.