Rich Lowry has written an important column at National Review Online. He covers the RNC and asks a question we have been asking here: Where is today’s Jack Kemp?
Here are the parts you need to know:
The harsh assessment of the RNC “autopsy” committee would be that it talked to 2,600 people, yet one of its top proposals is reviving a minority inclusion council from the 1990s. It takes months of research to come up with this stuff?
But that would be too harsh. The autopsy is a good-faith effort to stare the Republican predicament straight in the face.
The RNC autopsy has stirred up another round in an intraparty debate that is yeasty and entertaining, and will surely prove largely irrelevant to the Republican future.
One facet of that ongoing debate is the fight between the grassroots and the establishment over Senate primaries, which has been raging for months and got more fuel when speakers at the annual conservative gathering, the Conservative Political Action Conference, savaged the Republican consultant class. Rarely has so much heat been generated with so little light.
Consider Ted Cruz of Texas, whose smarts and fearlessness are making him the most dangerous man in the U.S. Senate. He proves that you can be anti-establishment — he ran a grassroots insurgency in his Republican primary — and yet talented and electable.
And so much depends on substance. No “rebranding” will make a difference if Republican policy is not relevant to people’s lives. What the party desperately needs more than different marketing or new consultants are a few Jack Kemps, political entrepreneurs willing to ignore orthodoxies and evangelize for new ideas.
Kemp did his most important work as a backbencher in the House. Where is his equivalent today? Two possible Republican contenders in 2016 have demonstrated some of his entrepreneurial spirit. No committee ever would have come up with the idea for Rand Paul’s filibuster. It showed gumption and creativity, and it caught people’s imagination. But it was in a cause — preventing drone attacks on U.S. citizens — that is not pertinent to the everyday life of anyone not on the run in Yemen.
For his part, Rubio has begun to talk about college affordability, an issue that should be part of a new conservative agenda aimed at concrete middle-class concerns. All the action, though, is around Rubio’s other cause of comprehensive immigration reform.
The Republican party can study itself to death, but without some Jack Kemps, it will remain in its current stasis for the duration.
This is another reminder that there is a Jack Kemp Project forthcoming from us here at GPH Consulting. Be sure you’re on the list to be notified first about what’s going on.