As previously stated, I thought Mitt Romney to be a better candidate than did many observers. That said, the recent revelations in news articles that claim to chronicle the Romney campaign reinforce the idea that the “silk underwear” branch of the GOP just doesn’t get it.
The emerging story of a candidate who really didn’t want to run in the first place and consultants who never listened to pleas from his own family to humanize the man so that everyday people could “feel like he understands them” just makes conservatives and the GOP faithful sick. They once again spent their hard-earned money and endless time backing another Republican nominee who had no prayer of connecting with the average voter. Never mind that he was, at closer examination, a young man of privilege who outgrew his silver spoon to create his own hard-earned fortune. His case was never properly made.
And why is that? The answer is the current class of Republican “experts” and “consultants” who constantly blow into somewhere outside of their self-indulgent D.C. bubble and believe that they really do understand the “average American” in the 21st century.
They do not.
Same for the well-entrenched elected officials, many of whom have gone from scrappy challengers of the status quo to fat and happy potentates. The so-called “experts” just sell any sort of snake oil a candidate or elected official and his loyal leeches will swallow. Hence, terrible focus-group-driven commercials, poor strategy in message and a “get out the vote” effort about as technologically advanced as the telegraph and with all the planning for contingencies as the Hurricane Katrina emergency efforts.
Until Republicans get rid of the inherent haughtiness of their operations, nothing will change. I’ve always described the GOP Establishment as a bunch who will hold a fundraiser, say, with an incumbent Republican president (don’t hold your breath for that again anytime soon) or a nominee, or a governor’s inauguration — you name it — with one unmentioned thing in mind: themselves. They inevitably make the event like one of those toys with endless boxes within boxes, each smaller than the one before it. That’s how they do their big “fundraisers.” There’s the massive box, holding the masses — where from the distance of a football field one might catch a fleeting glimpse or hear a bit of a speech or event.
From there on, the boxes get smaller and smaller — and more elaborate. One huge amount gets you into a private reception; the next more expensive one warrants a 10 second photograph with the political star; then there’s the price-busting one that gets you a 30 person private audience — in which every dupe there fails to note that the leader of the free world or the top person in their state listens, speaks, leaves and likely forgets the whole thing five minutes later.
Oh, and then there is that last box. It’s reserved for the same snooty creatures who have run everything in their subdivision of the GOP forever. They often are there because they helped take everyone else’s money! But regardless, they are there, in the most private of rooms with the highest of public leaders, just hanging out. They are a small, cozy group — the elite of the elite. Sort of like today’s Republican Party — a small, cozy group.
If I have to read one more story about some Republican official’s great golf handicap or how much they all enjoy the private company of one another, I think I’ll be sick.
Republicans need to retool their image and their mindset. Just shed all the king’s trappings and some of the king’s men. Keep the hardworking and in-touch ones, bring in fresh faces, understand the mindset of the next generation, but more than anything articulate what they stand for and, damn it, stand for it.
A little fire in the belly and purpose for being elected and holding office in the first place could at least start to get the GOP turned around before it really is too late.
Matt Towery heads the polling and political information firm InsiderAdvantage.