Six years ago today I published an op ed about the need for Republicans to bring private sector/non-political talent into the political arena in order to help get “the message out on Republican alternatives to growing government and increasing regulations.” Back then, as you’ll recall, the GOP held the White House and power in Congress, and our state Republican leaders were in their second year of being out-of-power.
Six years later we’d be in much better shape if our leaders back then had retained “the services of professional marketing, public relations, and advertising agencies that understand how to connect with 2004 America.”
Due to the marvelous national and state policy think tanks, Republicans have never lacked for excellent policy proposals. What they have lacked is the institutional knowledge for how to advance the reform agenda after they were elected to office.
One of the supreme ironies of the recently passed ObamaCare legislation is that in the early 1990s when HillaryCare was defeated, Congressman Dennis Hastert was one of the point people helping to make the case for its rejection. Hastert understood the health care issue, but after he was elevated to the Speakership, he failed completely to engage the public and see to it that Republican majorities passed the right kind of comprehensive reform.
Six years ago I wrote:
“Unless the new [General Assembly] leadership starts to do something differently than the old, we’re destined for another eight years of minority status.”
I also said:
“Since most political types already think they’ve got everything figured out, my suggestion will probably fall on deaf ears. Outsiders aren’t welcome or needed, especially when their proposals would require a new way of thinking and more work from elected officials set in tired old ways.”
This year we all know how the failures of the Republican Party and the successes of the Obama Administration have caused the beginnings of an uprising. That doesn’t mean victory is guaranteed for the good guys come this November. To win, our side must improve its game in a big way. I still think outside help is in order. As I noted in another article in 2004 –
“We have thousands of private sector advertising, marketing, and public relations professionals all over the country that know how to sell a good idea to a busy population.
All p.r., advertising, and marketing evolves and improves – except that in the arena of politics. We’re supposed to be in the business of marketing ideas – and the fact that Illinois voters can’t tell the difference between the Democrats and the Republicans shows what a poor job we’re doing.
This isn’t a campaign against people – it’s against failed policies and institutions. Those who defend failure shouldn’t. If you’re in office and aren’t up to the task ahead, it’s time for you to retire.
If you are up to the task, then it’s time for you to get in the game.”
Once again here’s the question I keep asking: How many people are we really reaching and how persuasive is the information we’re delivering?
Some of us have know for a long time that the answer to both parts of that question has been – not enough. Supporters of limited government and traditional values (the GOP Platform) also know it – and our leaders should seek out and be open to all the new, outside help they can get.