Monday, March 2, 2009

Pre-branding

The conservative movement needs a makeover; not a revolution, not an evolution, just some image consulting.

Oh, and some new leadership.For the past eight years, we've been painted as the party of George W. Bush and, through no effort of our own, John McCain. And while both of them have done their best to keep America safe and prosperous, they simply weren't the men for the job. Many Republicans didn't even want them for the job.

Nor was Sarah Palin the woman for the job. It's true that she fought corruption in the Alaskan GOP and did her best in the face of massive media opposition, but she simply wasn't ready to be put on the national stage.

Governor Bobby Jindal would have been a better fit. More so than Palin or RNC Chairman Michael Steele, he reflects that the Republican Party is not just the party of old white male Protestants. He's the children of immigrants who rose to become one of the strongest leaders in Louisiana politics, either Republican or Democrat. He's the leader that conservatives wish had been in charge during Katrina.

Eric Cantor, the House Minority Whip from my home state of Virginia, is another example. He was able to convince House Republicans to stand by "conservative" principles of fiscal responsibility that have been lacking in the last couple of decades. "Deficit hawk" used to be a term worn by the GOP until the Bush administration. Now, leaders like Cantor are helping conservatives earn that title back.

And then there's my personal favorite, Mitt Romney, who won the conservative straw poll at CPAC for the third year running this last week. With his incredible business acumen, his governorship of one of the most liberal states in the country, his record of salvaging (nearly) lost industries and businesses and turning them into successes (not the least of which was the 2002 Winter Olympics), he could have been the president that George W. Bush was supposed to be. With his economic credentials, he'd certainly have done better in this last election than John McCain did.

Marketing types call it "rebranding". I call it "prebranding", returning to the previous brand. The conservative movement has gotten away from its founding principles of economic stability, prosperity for all and not just the rich, strong families, and a strong national defense. We haven't been the leaders we should have been, and that's on us. I'm not dedicated to ending the conservative movement; I'm dedicated to reinventing it.

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