The Corner

Priebus: Republicans Must ‘Embrace Permanent Politics’

Here, next to the the decommissioned World War-II battleship, the USS Alabama, the Young Republicans are having their annual gala, and Republican party chairman, Reince Priebus is the keynote speaker.

In his speech, Priebus aggressively set out his vision for the future of the RNC. We need a “turnaround,” Priebus argued. “The party needs to be better than it has been in the past.” He described the RNC as a “complete disaster that got back on the rails about 18 months ago.” Without naming names, Priebus made it clear that his predecessor had a lot to answer for.

“People have different theories of what happened in ‘12, and what I need to tackle.”  He started by observing that Republicans ”have got to understand that we can’t show up a few months before elections and move mountains,” he observed. “We live in a world of permanent politics. We need to have a presence in Asian communities, in Hispanic communities, and in African-American communities. We need to be a year-round party. If you don’t have the presence you don’t make the sale…We need a permanent year-round ground game that never quits and doesn’t turn up every four years like locusts…This is what the other side does.” They got started “three and a half years ago,” Priebus argued, “with people from the local area…They’re permanently there. Although the world of permanent politics, of politics as a vocation hasn’t been popular in our party, we need to embrace it.”

As important as the ground game, Priebus contended, is that Republicans have “lost the history of [their] party,” suffering from a problem of “branding.” “We’re the party of equality and freedom,” Priebus argued, to applause. “We’re the Republican Party! But we don’t tell anyone. We might want to defend the word ‘Republican.’ The umbrella brand matters in our party, but we let people say, ‘Oh, I’m not a Republican, I’m a conservative,’ or ‘I’m a libertarian.’ We need to educate people about this party. We need to go to colleges, churches, festivals, and tell people the history of this party. We are the party that believes in unlimited opportunity for everyone.” Perhaps following the example if the Mormon church, Priebus suggested a campaign of “ads across the country: ‘I’m a Republican because. . .’”

Priebus also took on the primary system. “Our primary system is a disaster,” he complained. “Why do we allow a traveling circus in front of moderators who are in the business of making us look bad? We need to get control over our debates.” He made sure to pre-empted criticism from skeptics, insisting that “this is not an establishment takeover, it’s using your brain.”

“We need to move our convention from the end of August to the end of June so we don’t torture our candidates,” so they can “spend their money earlier,” he added. There’s no longer any need “for a late convention,” now that “nobody takes public funding.” And who should those candidates be? “People in this country want real people. You have to have candidates that people relate to, that people like, that people understand. In Wisconsin we call it the beer test.” (When Priebus mentioned Scott Walker, many ears pricked up.)

Priebus urged attendees to “go big,” contending that there is no point in being involved in politics unless one is prepared to “be the best you can be.” His parting message: We cannot go back to the days in which “we are 26 million dollars in debt and our party credit cards are suspended months before an election.”

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More