If you are a fan of the Sunday morning political circuit, I certainly hope you saw Newt Gingrich on ABC’s This Week. He joined the growing chorus of Republicans criticizing Mitt Romney in a way that only Newt can do. Gingrich called Romney’s claim that he lost the election because he failed to give “gifts” to young people and minorities, “nuts” and pointed out that Romney did particularly bad among Asia-Americans, who, according to Gingrich, “ain’t into gifts.” Gingrich added:
“If it had been that simple, my question would be, ‘Why didn’t you outbid him?’ He had enough billionaire supporters, if buying the electorate was the key, he could have got all his super PAC friends together and said, don’t buy ads, give gifts,” Gingrich continued. “Be like the northwest Indians who have gift-giving ceremonies….Go town-by-town and say, ‘Come here, let me give you gifts. Here are Republican gifts.’ They could have an elephant coming in with gifts on it” (see http://abcnews.go.com/ABC_Univision/Politics/gingrich-calls-romneys-gift-comments-insulting/story?id=17760399#.UKqZ–S_K3M).
True to form, Gingrich paints an amusing picture and makes an important point. If the Republican Party cannot offer a compelling narrative to the general population, it will have difficulty winning at the national level.
Abandoning the narratives of the past is not easy to do. The Republican Party has gotten a lot of mileage out of Ronald Reagan’s conservative playbook, but clearly it no longer has sturdy legs in the contemporary political age. It is even harder to rewrite the Republican Party narrative in the wake of a huge missed opportunity – otherwise known as the Tea Party Movement. Initially, the movement mobilized citizens across the political spectrum around a broad set of ideas that, in fact, translated into electoral clout at the polls in 2010 in several states. However, instead of taking the movement and the people attracted to it seriously, the Republican Party co-opted the ideas and formalized the grassroots structure to accommodate party politics. The result? The Republican Party effectively chased away for individuals (libertarians, independents, and even some democrats) that were looking to create a new political voice. Some of these folks turned to the Occupy Movement as a way to engage in new political conversations and some simply went home.
What’s a Party to do? Apparently, fight amongst themselves over why their candidate lost and distance themselves from the loser. None of this, of course, changes the result or the prospects for the future.