Published June 02, 2010
The Republican party is making a big mistake by following the Darrell Issa model for politicking. Darrell Issa might get a lot of attention for verbal bomb throwing, but fact is he is the wrong political model if Republicans want to win.
It was Issa, after all, who demanded a recall in the California governor’s election only to be granted it and then bow out of the race under confused circumstances to Schwarzenegger. Bottom line, you can generate a lot of publicity and anger and the people still won’t elect you. Issa might have cleared the way for another Republican, but his own brand was marked by negativity.
Why on earth does the party of Ronald Reagan want to follow this political brand model?
If your business is winning elections, you need to meet the needs of the electorate. And this starts with listening. The Republican party must re-style itself as the party that listens.
Unfortunately, the most recent flap over Sestak - that Issa and others are urging the entire party to embrace - is evidence of a party that risks turning not listening into a platform.
Even though, polls show that Americans are tired of back room deals, I think it will be obvious if and when they poll on the Sestak issue that most Americans couldn’t care less about pursuing this. Why should they?
It’s obvious to anyone outside the political pundit echo chamber that whatever happened a) it is probably not outside the scope of usual politics and b) even if it is, it’s far too complicated, circumstantial and open-ended to waste too much party energy on. Even former Attorney General under Bush, Michael Mukasey, said that it was “highly questionable if there’s any crime.”
But ahead of the polls and confirming a political marketing truth, just look at the Connecticut reaction to Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal, the state’s current attorney general. Blumenthal mis-spoke regarding his military service and created a firestorm as result. But this was punditocracy firestorm that didn’t translate to the electorate. In other words, he’s doing just fine with the voters in Connecticut.
Republicans must resist the urge to engage in the politics of personal attacks and become nitpickers of negativism. The most successful political brands have always been seen to take the high road. Not only does worrying about the Sestak issue seem like an non-event to the electorate but harping on it comes across as desperation –and no party ever wins by sounding desperate.
Here’s an idea. Instead of spending any more time trying to nail the next scandal and show the American people just how awful the Obama administration is, why not do what the opposition parties do in other democracies: deliver substantive alternatives to current administrative policies.
For example, tell the American people – especially the independents - exactly what the Republican position is on BP, off-shore drilling and environmental consequences. After all, the media has given Brand Obama a free ride so far on the BP disaster – he’s on vacation again! - but there’s clearly a vacuum that innovative, aggressive and, above all, positive Republican problem-solving can fill.
It’s time to get the Grand Ole Party to start doing Grand new things.
And, remember, things are always easier when you keep marketing and branding in mind.
John Tantillo is a marketing and branding expert and president of the Marketing Department of America who markets his own services as The Marketing Doctor. He is a frequent contributor to the Fox Forum and the author of a new book People Buy Brands, Not Companies.