Republicans and Talking to Folks

Neil King and Victoria McGrane have some thoughts.  They cite various conservatives, for instance:

[A]ctivists—including tea-party activists but also some mainline Republicans—say the party should adopt a more populist tone, one that places more emphasis on ways Republican policies would help the middle class.


The critique from these Republicans suggests that the party should change some policies—such as adopting a more skeptical posture toward big banks—as well as the way it talks about economic issues.


Mr. Romney’s lopsided loss among the country’s expanding universe of minority voters has fanned fears within the party that its main challenge is demographic, though others dismiss that worry as secondary.

But these are short-sighted and outright wrong.  The “others” are right; the problem is Republicans’ and conservatives’ general failure to talk to all Americans, regardless of ethnicity.  Republicans and conservative need to get out and talk to people in the neighborhoods in which they live—all of those neighborhoods—as I pointed out here and here.

Ex-Mississippi Governor and erstwhile GOP Chairman Haley Barbour has the right of it.  He understands that conservative policies aren’t the problem.

We do very well when our policies for economic growth and job creation are put in place.  But we often don’t talk about those policies in ways that the middle class and working class see as in their interest.

And they don’t talk at all about those policies where Americans physically live.

The other critiquers, though (the ones who are concerned with the content of the message as well as where it’s delivered), also have a point—apart from attempts to change those policies.

The Republicans’ approach to dealing with the nation’s largest financial firms illustrates the tension.  GOP leaders oppose the Dodd-Frank financial-overhaul law as regulatory overreach and want it scrapped, partly because they say it codifies certain institutions as being too big to fail.  But so far, they haven’t rallied around an alternative means to reining in the big banks.

Or establishing the need for government to “rein in” the big banks.  Which points up another aspect of message content.  In addition to their failure clearly to articulate what they would do differently vis-à-vis Dodd-Frank, their mantra concerning Obamacare is woefully inadequate:  “Repeal and replace.”  Replace with what?

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