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It’s Not Just The Messaging

Daniel Larison, who has been having a terrific run of blogging lately, makes the following excellent point about Bobby Jindal’s rebuke of Mitt Romney:

 Jindal is obviously a much less tone-deaf politician than Romney, but he is simply asserting that “our policies benefit every American who wants to pursue the American dream.” This could depend on what Jindal means by “our policies,” but if he’s talking about what the national GOP has done when it was in power in the last decade and what it proposes to do in the future it doesn’t appear to be true. Asserting that Republican policies benefit everyone doesn’t make the GOP more appealing. When it appears that these policies don’t even seem to benefit large numbers of the GOP’s reliable voters, telling people that they benefit from policies that do little or nothing for them isn’t the way to gain their trust or support. Not recognizing this is the root of the party’s weaknesses with voters.

This is true. Not only was it politically foolish for Romney to say that he only lost because Obama bribed certain demographic groups, but it was misleading. It implies that there is nothing wrong with GOP policies. As Daniel astutely points out, Jindal is right about the messaging, but if he thinks that’s all that needs to change, he’s deluding himself. Jindal’s published remarks this week saying that the GOP needs to take on big financial interests indicates that he is thinking more deeply than Daniel suggests. He had better be.

UPDATE: Michael Brendan Dougherty, yes, yes, yes! Excerpt:

While the GOP successfully internalized the cultural backlash of the 1960s, they never actually adopted the economic interests of this social base. And that is why it seemed so tin-eared to appeal to this base at the 2012 GOP convention as if they were all heroic entrepreneurs held back by government red-tape.

Wrong. Most of the GOP base are people that look for employment as a means to providing for a family. They see their economic interests threatened by Republicans who want to expose their retirements to the stock market, who want them to pay for their health-care out of their take home wages, who give massive bailouts to connected corporate interests, while singing about self-reliance to the working man. Social issues and the Great Society pushed enormous blocs of the New Deal coalition into the GOP. Eventually this transformation of the party transformed some of the people in it. The GOP used to be in league with family planners and the birth control movement, now it is mostly pro-life. But weirdly even as this new coalition changed the GOP on social issues, the party remained fixed to its 1930s style anti-New Dealism.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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