The latest GOP rebranding – actual change, or a political facelift?


In 2009 and 2010, the Tea Party movement rocked the political establishment in both parties. 2011 saw Washington desperately scramble to adjust to the damage it took, though in 2012 the establishment garnered victories in various races across the nation, including the Presidential race.

 The last few weeks have seen a rebranding of the Republican Party throughout the country. Karl Rove’s new organization, the unwillingness of the House to hold fast on the debt ceiling, and the willingness of Republicans in the Senate to revisit controversial gun and immigration policies have been part of the GOP’s rebranding.

 On Friday, Ezra Klein of The Washington Post Wonk Blog took these and other threads and pointed out what final picture they create: The re-trenching of the GOP establishment. From his post:

Dick Morris and Sarah Palin are out at Fox News. Rep. Paul Ryan is helping House Speaker John Boehner talk his caucus down from the debt-ceiling ledge. Sen. Marco Rubio is going from one conservative talk-radio host to another to sell them on bipartisan immigration reform. Louisiana’s Gov. Bobby Jindal is telling Republicans to cease being “the stupid party.” Tea Party icon Jim DeMint left the Senate, while FreedomWorks, a Tea Party catalyst, went through a nasty, costly divorce with its figurehead, Dick Armey. Karl Rove’s super-PAC is turning its formidable financial artillery toward helping Republicans win primary elections against Tea Party insurgents.

According to one former Congressman, it’s about eliminating the Tea Party-minded people from the GOP:

“We’ve had a period of this movement at the grass-roots level, call it Tea Party or something else, and it seems to me we’re seeing the normal progression of a grass-roots populist movement,” said Vin Weber, a former Republican congressman from Minnesota. “It ran out of control for a few years — that’s why we call it a movement rather than an organization. But it’s receding a bit now. That’s allowing natural leaders to reassert themselves, and institutional forces to reassert themselves.”

Klein’s two major points are interesting ones. Firsts, he points out that many (such as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA)) are trying to rebrand the GOP without creating new policy proposals. Klein is not a fiscal hawk by any means, so his policy proposals are often not in line with Tea Party-minded activists. However, he is correct that the GOP is rebranding without really rebranding; otherwise, we’d be seeing major budget cuts, tax reform, and regulatory relief, as well as the repeal of Obamacare.

Second, he makes the simplest, most important argument against the establishment taking back control: “That’s the problem with the Republican establishment reasserting control. They’re still the establishment.” In a time of national crisis regarding jobs and the debt, the establishment is talking about Tea Party issues with a fraction of the interest (and even fewer of the policy proposals) they deserve. Instead of working on overspending and national debt, both parties are willing to spend time on less pressing issues like gun control and illegal immigration.

What can activists do to prevent this reboot of establishment control? So far this year, Tea Party Patriots has  begun a series of Patriot Town Halls, which are bringing in those who knew anti-establishment President Ronald Reagan best to explain President Reagan’s tactics, strategies, and principles to activists around the country. We also continue to work closely with local and state coordinators in order to bring Tea Party values to as many Americans as possible.

What would you do to prevent a return of establishment power? Additionally, what action(s) do you recommend to Tea Party Patriots? Let us know in the comments.