CHANGING THE MESSENGER DOESN’T CHANGE THE MESSAGE
Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, one of the classic rock radio stations in Chicago was WCKG. And just like most classic rock radio stations, WCKG played what appeared to be the same fifty or so songs over and over. When ratings were consistent, everything was business as usual. But if the ratings dipped, then changes were made. These changes were almost always limited to the firing of a disc jockey – or an occasional program director; the only constant was the same, tired fifty songs – the probable reason for the dip in the ratings. In other words, management believed that changing the messenger, not the message, would fix the problem.
Politics, like the radio industry, depends on market research. In both cases, they are failed attempts to be all things to all people. Unfortunately, the all-things-to-all-people mentality leads to a product that ends up being the opposite of what was intended.
When Karl Rove announced the creation of the Conservative Victory Project, many conservatives reacted negatively. The intention, they argue, is an attempt to purge the Republican Party of opinions that are not aligned with those of the ruling elite within the Party. These CVP-backed candidates would be new messengers who would deliver the same, tired establishment message.
The results of the 2012 elections were viewed as a blow to the GOP. In addition to the loss of Republican Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, there were a few Republican losses in the House of Representitives. However, there has been little mention of the fact that the four Republican losses in Illinois came after the Democrat-led Illinois General Assembly had redrawn the Congressional districts in favor of Democrats. One of the Republican Congressmen who had lost his seat, Bob Dold, had been running campaign commercials that were intended to make him appear as a moderate.
Spending money to endorse Republican candidates who are moderates – or want to be perceived as moderates – instead of running conservative candidates, could be called the “Dold Approach.” This is what conservatives fear is the real agenda of the CVP. Somehow, Barry Goldwater’s philosophy of picking the most-electable conservative candidates has been watered-down to picking what is believed to be the most-electable candidates.
The results of the Republican Party’s push to nominate the most electable candidates in 1996, 2008, and 2012: Bob Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney, should have been three warnings that perhaps, voters do not want candidates who either believe that they deserve to become President, such as Dole, or as in the cases of McCain and Romney, should win simply because they, “are not the other guy.” Keep in mind that another most-electable candidate, George W. Bush, barely won in 2000.
Speaking of George W. Bush, Rove served as a political strategist in the Bush Administration.
While making an appearance on the O’Reilly Factor in 2011, Rove criticized the Obama Administration for not speaking out against plans by General Electric to: outsource American medical equipment manufacturing jobs to China, and plan to create a joint venture with a Chinese aircraft company which would compete against Boeing. Rove also complained about the thirty-five percent corporate tax on American companies.
Didn’t the Bush Administration believe that outsourcing was good for the US economy? And, how come the corporate tax was not an issue during the Bush Administration?
From excessive spending, to patronage, the Bush years have been filled with a lot of disappointment for conservatives. The Bush years also highlighted the differences between conservatives, and establishment Republicans.
As for current political maneuvering, the establishment response for the unwillingness to address high-profile issues, such as entitlement cuts, and balancing the federal budget, is that the GOP needs to, “win the next election” in order to fix the big problems. In other words, the Republican Party is only interested in winning elections.
If the leaders of the Republican Party did not learn from the 2010 recall effort against Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker that voters will support politicians who are willing to fix problems in government – even if their political career is at risk, then there is little doubt that those leaders are more interested in self-preservation than expecting results from their politicians.
In his current self-defense campaign, Karl Rove has been trying to prove that he supports conservatives. Whether or not this is true, he has a difficult task in trying to change his image of being a self-serving elitist who would rather lose elections, than lose power within the Republican Party. If he chooses to not step aside in the name of stability within the Party, he will be perceived as a market research-dependent classic rock program director, with a habit of telling disk jockeys to play Freebird – and other tired songs every few hours, acting surprised as the ratings for WGOP continue to slide because of a tired format, and then firing his DJs for making the mistakes that he had told them to make.