Thursday, February 19, 2009

That's Some Catchy Hooks

RNC Chair Michael Steele has a new PR strategy:
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele says his party is going to launch an "off the hook" public relations campaign that will update the GOP’s image by translating it to "urban-suburban hip-hop settings."

The new GOP leader told the Washington Times that the party’s defeat in states such as North Carolina and Virginia made it clear they needed a new approach.

“We need messengers to really capture that region — young, Hispanic, black, a cross section…” he said in an interview published Thursday. “We want to convey that the modern-day GOP looks like the conservative party that stands on principles. But we want to apply them to urban-surburban hip-hop settings.”

He added, jokingly, that “we need to uptick our image with everyone, including one-armed midgets.”

Steele described the new multi-platform PR offensive as “avant-garde, technically. It will come to [the] table with things that will surprise everyone — off the hook.” Asked whether that meant cutting-edge tactics, Steele demurred. “I don't do 'cutting-edge,’” he said. “That's what Democrats are doing. We're going beyond cutting-edge.”

A for effort, but C- for too much effort. You're trying too hard, Mr. Steele. Nobody wants to hear their grandmother rap. A slanguage fail is worse than not trying at all.

The bizarre thing is this is precisely the sort of "outreach" towards people of color that Steele flaming when he was running for an office. It's still throwing a cocktail party, it's just changing the stereo settings. There's no indication that attracting people of color might involve, you know, actually policy modifications. Lay down the right beats, the argument seems to be, and they'll follow you wherever you might want to go.

1 comment:

PG said...

"There's no indication that attracting people of color might involve, you know, actually policy modifications."

I don't think it should have to. You really think Steele is going to get the GOP to go along with him if he says they're going to have to change their substantive philosophy? Uh uh. Steele's plan sounds idiotic, but the GOP really should be marketing its existing policies more cleverly. In appealing to young people (18-45), it should highlight where it is libertarian (e.g. support for school choice, reducing taxation of wages, etc.) and in appealing to older people it should highlight social conservatism (elderly people, including POC, aren't in favor of "abortion on demand," same-sex marriage,etc.).

In general, if the GOP doesn't mind losing centrist Latino voters, it can do very well playing the immigration issue as a matter of "we welcome immigrants who come to this country legally, following the rules. Our concern is about illegal immigrants who slip in and out." Unless they're wealthy enough that they see cheap illegal immigrant labor as something they want to buy, legal immigrants can resent illegal immigrants just as much native-born Americans do. The GOP just needs to get rid of the Pat Buchanan, "death of the West" freakazoids who hate all non-white immigrants impartially regardless of the legality of their status. No more of supporting judges who try to order Latino parents to speak only English in their own homes; no more panicking over La Raza.

The GOP doesn't need to change its policies in order to appeal to more voters, particularly more voters of color. It just needs to stop being so obviously and insultingly terrified of brown and black folks.