Monday, 12 January 2009

Republicans all shook up

The race for Chairmanship of the Republican party shows just how disorientated Barack Obama has the Grand Old Party. Debates about two African-American candidates and, at the opposite end of the spectrum, a candidate who thinks it's acceptable to send out a CD containing the song 'Barack the Magic Negro' show a party in a tizz over the new president-elect.

For Jim Greer, Florida Republican Chairman, the election of a minority as Chairman would send out a 'credible message of inclusion.' That's all you have to do. Get a minority in the public gaze and hey presto, you are an inclusive party. This type of crass tokenism is characteristic of parties that just don't get it.

Far more astute are the comments by Joe Gaylord, a Republican strategist, who insists that what is needed is a Republican party that is far more 'future oriented, solutions orientated.'

They also have to rebuild a party that is demoralised by two enormous election defeats in 2006 and 2008. That is ideological, organisational, financial, and programmatic. There has to be a question whether the Republican party who warmed so effusively to Sarah Palin are capable of electing the type of candidate who could win come 2012. They may not be an off-the-shelf Reaganite neo-liberal, social conservative. The old purist candidates work on a district or state level but will have increasing difficulty on a national level given changes to the American demographic and geographical landscape. In other words, how do the Republicans prevent themselves becoming a regional rather than a national party?

So whether they select a minority to be Chairman is neither here nor there. Barack Obama did not win because he was African American. He won because he had the most credible narrative and leadership qualities backed up by a phenomenal campaign on November 4th. If I were the Republicans I would worry far more about the fundamentals than the ephemera.

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