By Robert Schlesinger |
Karl Rove's efforts to remake the GOP is a good move, but a move that could also work against Republicans if it becomes a strategy to keep dysfunctional incumbents in office.
The party was indeed replete with too-far right candidates this past election season. Todd Akin's "legitimate rape" comments, as well as other candidates suffering from chronic foot-in-mouth disease eroded the party's electoral chances. The slate of candidates was illustrative of how far it had moved away from its founding values.
Moderation is a must if the party wants to retake control of the White House in 2016. It isn't going to be easy, which is why the furor over Rove's new approach sent level 10 shock waves through the Tea Party. This tumult is to be expected; change is never easy.
However, to achieve moderation, Rovian candidates must appeal to the silent majority, that mass of middle of the road voters who want more. American Crossroads must not pursue tactics that further entrench incumbents. They're not doing good jobs and are as culpable as the Tea Party in murdering bipartisanship.
Republicans seem to be trending toward changing their rules to prevent primary fights. However, to revamp the party there will need to be primary fights to usher in more qualified politicians. Those who can not only help improve the party's image, but also have an eye on the common good.
American Crossroads should recruit the next generation of conservatives to run for office: people who have great ideas and are in touch with today's society. Only funneling money into the old guard would just continue the status quo, and further empowering special interests.
We have to remember that Rove was the strategist who pioneered targeting the base during the 1990s, and this strategy helped move the party right. So don't expect American Crossroads to be the penultimate change agent.
The GOP must modernize its principles and tie them to attractive policies. No more exclusionary legislative agenda or actions that throw special favors around the Beltway. Policies must make sense and have broad appeal, and differ from Democrats. This will give voters clear choices, and that's much better for the democratic process than offering up a rebranded version of business as usual.
About Jamie Chandler Political Scientist at Hunter College
Ford O'Connell Republican Strategist, Conservative Activist, and Political Analyst
Lara Brown Author of 'Jockeying for the American Presidency: The Political Opportunism of Aspirants'