RNC ‘autopsy’ on 2012 Shows Shocking Self Awareness
The Republican National Committee today released a study of why they lost the 2012 Presidential election, several Senate races they should have won easily, and their House majority shrank, and rather than the usual blame game of the “liberal media,” “free stuff,” or the usual resentments, it actually shows realism and adult self awareness:
President Obama’s campaign staff boasted throughout the 2012 race that the GOP’s dismissal of minority concerns, intolerance towards gays, celebration of wealth, and fetishism of Ronald Reagan would doom them in November. Today the RNC released their official response: “You were right.”
If you watched the Republican primaries and Mitt Romney’s general election campaign last year, the findings from the RNC’s study on why they lost the election are stunning. They’re the kinds of things that would have gotten you thrown out of the room in a GOP debate. They don’t come lightly either: The report was based on interviews with over 2,600 people as well as individual focus groups and polls with demographics like Hispanic voters and former Republicans. It was authored by Henry Barbour, Sally Bradshaw, Ari Fleischer, Zori Fonalledas, and Glenn McCall.
All six of the takeaways are really important, but this is the one that summarizes it best:
4. Epistemic Closure Is Real
There’s been a long running debate on the intellectual right about whether the GOP suffers from “epistemic closure,” a condition in which conservatives block out all dissenting voices until eventually their own arguments sound nonsensical to anyone who doesn’t already agree with them. The RNC report concludes this is a real and growing problem.
“The Republican Party needs to stop talking to itself,” its authors write. “We have become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly we have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with us on every issue. Instead of driving around in circles on an ideological cul-de-sac, we need a Party whose brand of conservatism invites and inspires new people to visit us.”
As if the suggestion that Republicans are close-minded isn’t wading into delicate enough territory, the same section suggests that the party’s obsessive focus on Ronald Reagan may be harmful as well.
“Ronald Reagan is a Republican hero and role model who was first elected 33 years ago — meaning no one under the age of 51 today was old enough to vote for Reagan when he first ran for President,” it reads. It approvingly quotes columnists Michael Gerson and Pete Wehner, who wrote last month, “It is no wonder that Republican policies can seem stale; they are very nearly identical to those offered up by the Party more than 30 years ago.”
The Republican Party has needed a Sister Souljah moment every since Rush Limbaugh became a prominent figure more than 20 years ago, and several other clones followed in his footsteps, followed by the launch of Fox “News,” and still later the right wing blogosphere. The fact that any Republican is saying things like this in such a straightforward way is important, but the real question is whether they will be able actually act on these suggestions, or continue feeding at the trough of fear, loathing, igorance, and stupidity.