Newt Gingrich has published a memo on The Challenge Confronting the Republican Party. He begins:
I wanted to share with you the following memo which I have written at the request of Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, and which he has distributed to RNC members this afternoon.
This is the beginning of a four to six month project considering what the Republican Party must do to become competitive in all 50 states.
It covers everything I’ve thought about and read since the election about what went wrong for Republicans, what the Democrats did to win, and what Republicans need to do now. But it goes much farther than anybody else, and it puts together so many different things that it makes my head spin. It is brilliant, and I urge you to read the whole thing. There is too much in it to summarize, but I’ll give you a few bits.
Gingrich begins with a useful history showing that the Republican Party has been in dire straits before and has made a comeback. Most dramatically,
After the devastating Watergate defeat of 1974 Chairwoman Mary Louise Smith led a courageous rethinking of the party’s strategies and structures. Her Executive Director, Eddie Mahe, undertook an exhaustive in depth look at a party which had dropped to 18% support among the American people( the lowest since the Great Depression).
Eighteen percent support! Yet just six years later Ronald Reagan won a decisive victory, and Gingrich gives much credit to the RNC for making that possible. The story in this case was one of bringing new and conservative ideas into the game and making sure people heard about them. For instance, they flew Jack Kemp around the country to talk about his supply side economic ideas; Ronald Reagan became a supply-sider and those ideas helped him win. And:
After Margaret Thatcher won the May, 1979 election, Brock brought her advertising team to the United Stares and we studied intensely how they had communicated complex ideas in simple, vivid language. I was honored as a freshman to be part of that group and I know it disseminated a new wave of ideas that along with Reagan’s adoption of them shaped the GOP for a generation.
He goes on to impress upon Republicans the monumental challenge we face and the vast superiority of the system the Democrats have set up. As he puts it,
Their organized efforts and networks simply dwarf anything Republicans and conservatives have developed. Furthermore, their coalition is a permanent system of activism while the Republican consultant model is campaign focused and therefore both episodic and isolated. An ongoing coalition can mass and focus more energy and resources than isolated short time-horizon campaigns.
Gingrich is deeply critical of Republicans’ failings, but that’s not his focus. As usual, he is future oriented and has about a thousand ideas on how to succeed. This is Gingrich at his best. He was not a very good candidate, and he was a flawed Speaker of the House, but he is a brilliant strategist and is at ease thinking big and long-term and meshing many ideas into a total plan.
I hope the RNC takes this memo to heart and implements its suggestions. I am very cheered by learning that Reince Priebus asked Newt Gingrich to write down his thoughts. It shows he is not defensive, but is interested in turning around the Republican Party so it can once more stand for principles that appeal to all Americans.
Hat tip: Cathy