From snacks to sports teams, companies spend a tremendous amount of time, money, and energy on brand development. Take soda for example: For the most part, it’s just fizzy sugar water in a can or bottle. Despite this, soda companies design extensive strategies to ensure that consumers know that their products will provide them with happiness via an escape from their daily burdens.
The discipline in that approach has been thrown out the window by the current GOP. From a gun-wielding Missouri candidate for Senate saying that he will hunt down RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) to the Texas GOP writing a platform with a rigid list of stances, the GOP may be a brand that is meandering way too far outside the mainstream of American politics.
Using the Texas platform as a guide, the credentials for a good Republican means that they must believe the following:
The election was stolen from Donald Trump, and Joe Biden is not the legitimate President of the United States
Homosexuality is a choice, therefore those in the LGBTQ community are unethical
Prayer belongs in public school
Some books should be banned from school libraries
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 should be repealed
Owning one or more guns is an unequivocal American right
Life begins at conception, and abortion should be banned in all cases
The Federal Income Tax should be repealed
The Federal Minimum Wage should be repealed
COVID-19 mask mandates and vaccine requirements should be illegal
Critical Race Theory and the teaching of slavery or systematic discrimination should be banned from school curriculums
These are just the highlights. If you don’t buy into the entire list, you are not only not Republican, you simply aren’t American. It is this kind of self-righteous indignation that is not exactly welcoming, nor persuading the American public to vote in their favor.
Well, the conventional Inside the Beltway wisdom is that the economy and inflation will mask the GOP’s intentions, serving as a shield for any Republican candidate who is running within these lines. Then the Democrats will be on their heels defending Joe Biden, losing race after race within a bad economy. Not so fast, sparky!
Since the Dobbs decision, polls have come out showing that a swayed public is quickly moving in favor of the Democrats. In several races, including for the GOP nominations for Governor, Senator, and Secretary of State for Colorado, an election denier lost. Granted, Coloradoan independents can vote in the Republican primary. Though, it should be acknowledged that Andrew Giuliani was barely able to garner 23% of the vote in the New York Republican Primary for Governor.
We can look to history for an analogy: In 1983 and 84, the economy wasn’t so hot. In fact, on day 527 of his administration, Ronald Reagan’s approval rating reached 45% compared to Joe Biden’s 37% (fivethirtyeight.com). Unemployment was high, and inflation was around the same rate as it is today. Still, the GOP branded the Democrats as captives of special interests – labor unions, women’s groups, etc. They ran on it being “morning in America” and “stronger than the Bear (an analogy referencing the Soviet Union).” It worked, and the Reagan GOP brand was built.
In the 2020 election, down-ballot, Republicans branded Democrats as captives of the Defund the Police special interest. They also portrayed Black Lives Matter as a radical movement that didn’t care for, nor was concerned for the lives of other races.
To be successful in the 2022 election, the Democrats need to do some political Jiu-Jitsu. They need to flip the script; persuade and convince the current independents that this GOP is captive of its special interests. There is simply no wiggle room in the GOP Dogma for free, critical thinkers.
Recently, we have seen numbers reflecting that Americans, for the most part, are in favor of abortion, certainly before the second trimester ends. But, an overwhelming number of Americans —66.9% of the population— also received a COVID-19 vaccine and booster. People understand that the American virtues of freedom of religion and speech must be protected at every level. Moreover, except for the most ardent of Republicans, Americans believe that the 2020 Election was fair and that Joe Biden is the duly-elected President of the United States.
If the Democrats are successful in their use of this political playbook, and should the GOP Dogma prove to be a bridge too far for independent American voters, the Republican party will have a significant challenge in rebranding and rebuilding its coalition. They are going to have a tough time getting the political consumer to buy what they are selling. History shows that neither party is successful when it gives in to the extremes.
Jim Bloom is a marketing executive currently located in Dallas, TX. He has been involved with several digital, mobile, and social startups. Bloom also directed the marketing of the Moneyball era Oakland A’s and Toronto Blue Jays.