Reince Priebus: Republican Party Image Needs a Makeover

Reince Priebus and the Republican National Committee have just released a strategy paper for the future of the Republican Party. It was immediately met with criticism from Rush Limbaugh in just another example of the “Great Divide” in the conservative movement and subsequently the Republican Party.

Never has there been such a great divide between the operatives, the financiers, the candidates and the communication teams of the conservative movement and the Republican Party and it is all owed to the loss of the 2012 election. If the GOP had just listened to the liberals and progressives they would know that running a big tent is more than lip service. It requires real tolerance and acceptance for opposing ideas and a willingness to know when it is time to move over and let a new generation lead.

The Great Divide in the Republican Party continues to grow and the civil war for control of its destiny has never been more obvious than this weekend. Over the weekend pundits and elected officials representing the various factions in the conservative movement and the Republican Party took turns taking shots at each other.

“Public perception of the Party is at record lows. Young voters are increasingly rolling their eyes at what the Party represents, and many minorities wrongly think that Republicans do not like them or want them in the country. When someone rolls their eyes at us, they are not likely to open their ears to us.”

That is not a liberal or progressive critique of the party, that is the findings of the RNC as documented in Growth and Opportunity the position paper released by the RNC.

After Senator Rand Paul’s well-received filibuster the establishment wing of the party represented by Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham took aim at the junior senator. Graham called the filibuster “ill-informed.” For his part, McCain dismissed Paul’s efforts accusing him of not being serious.

McCain said, “If Mr. Paul wants to be taken seriously he needs to do more than pull political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids in their college dorms.”

McCain then went so far as to call the Tea Party/libertarian standard-bearers, Paul, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and U.S. Representative Justin Amash “wacko birds.” That didn’t set well with the wacko birds.

Taking the stage at CPAC, Paul responded by calling the wing represented by McCain “stale and moss-covered.”

Cruz made his feelings known during the CPAC keynote address, declaring, “If standing for liberty and standing for the Constitution makes you a wacko bird, then count me a proud wacko bird.” The barbs between the elected officials is an example of the fight going on between the candidates representing the traditional establishment bloc of social, national security, and fiscal conservatives and the rising tide represented by the Tea Party/libertarian bloc.

The Great Divide is also starting to affect the financiers, operatives, communication and media personnel of the conservative movement and the Republican Party. Karl Rove’s Conservative Victory Project wants to be a vetting group for conservative candidates, an idea that hasn’t sit well with people like Sarah Palin, FreedomWorks President and CEO Matt Kibbe, and Media Research Center founder Brent Bozell. Palin and Bozell took the opportunity to fire shots at Rove’s idea at CPAC, while on Fox News Sunday Kibbe debated former Rep. Steve LaTourette, President and CEO of the Republican Main Street Partnership on the future of the GOP. LaTourette said that the Tea Party/libertarian wing of the party is important but they need to learn how to govern.

“My difficulty is at the end of the day, you have to govern. Just saying no doesn't get you anything, and it creates these false crises,” said LaTourette.

Kibbe pointed out that it was the Tea Party/libertarian bloc that forced the debt and deficit to the top of the issues list. Kibble made his case for the Tea Party saying, “the Tea Party doesn't bat a thousand, but at least we’re winning elections.”

The Republican Party is having trouble finding its sea legs after losing the 2012 general election to President Obama. It marked the fifth time in six elections that the party lost the popular vote. If you remember pundits like George Will, Bill Kristol, and Laura Ingraham pronounced that if the Party couldn't win in 2012 then that would signal big problems for the future.

They appear to have been correct.

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Frank Hagler

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