The Ripon Forum

Volume 47, No. 4

Fall 2013 Issue

Boot the Zombies!

By on August 11, 2014 with 0 Comments


kalfanorfThis article is supposed to discuss how Republicans can win the women’s vote given their cavernous gender gap. Well, I am one of those stubborn women and, as we often do, I’m gonna change the subject.

First, it’s important to know this is mostly a federal problem. There are many Republican Governors enjoying just super approval ratings, including New Jersey’s Chris Christie (54% approval), New Mexico’s Susanna Martinez (60%), and Terry Branstad of Iowa (54%).

They know what Washington politicians don’t. This is not a fight for this demographic or that. It’s a fundamental structural problem. We’re crumbling under the weight of policies that haven’t been updated since poodle skirts. And it’s not just women. We stink with all kinds of voters, from minorities to millennials (I think there are still 714 old white guys that are very happy with us). And THAT’s the problem.

Republicans address each little demographic as if it exists only in its own tiny box. If you’re Hispanic, your issue is immigration. If you’re young, it’s jobs. Women only care about abortion. Yikes!

Folks, this is NOT your mamma’s electorate. Do you know what the top issue is for all three of these demographic groups? It’s education reform. To young parents, women, and immigrants, this issue — above most others — is transformative for their families and future. Sadly, education reform is probably the most “cutting edge” idea Republicans can offer these days, yet it isn’t cutting edge at all – it’s been around since the ‘80s. And now, Democrats have pretty much stolen it from us anyway.

 Contrary to the RNC’s infamous “autopsy” following last year’s election, the Republican Party doesn’t have a voter contact, GOTV, or messaging deficit. We have an idea deficit.

Contrary to the RNC’s infamous “autopsy” following last year’s election, the Republican Party doesn’t have a voter contact, or GOTV, or messaging deficit. We have an idea deficit. As far as voters go, Washington has become a bunch of Keystone Cops achieving nothing. And Republicans? We’ve become a caricature of our ideals, believing our core principles are our big ideas.

The Republicans’ central problem is not faulty organization or ham-handed communications – it’s that we are devoid of a fresh, modern view of the future, and can’t begin to articulate what it takes to get there. You can’t lead people with a bunch of moral values and rules – those are what we’re supposed to use to come up with the paradigm-shifting ideas. The principles of small government or personal liberty are nothing even remotely new. And offered alone, they don’t actually achieve anything. They remain our rock solid foundation, but are lying there begging for some new construction.

The Big Innovation Center in the United Kingdom proclaims their mission this way: “Turn zombies into innovators.” That pretty much sums up the challenge facing Republicans today. You want to close the gender gap? Boot the zombies and bring on the innovators. Women, imagine if we had a government that looked like this:

As President: Steve Jobs.
Vice President: Ronald Reagan.
White house spokesman: George Clooney. (Because who wouldn’t tune in to see George Clooney?)
Senators: Warren Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, Walt Disney, Oprah, Bruce Springsteen, Milton Friedman, Billy Graham…
In Congress: Michele Rhee, Isaac Newton, Jack Kemp, Newt Gingrich (the 90s version), Mother Teresa, Justin Bieber (yes the Biebs — Bieber fever = next generation), Ted Turner, Coco Chanel, Colin Powell…

There’d be no shutdowns from these folks! On day one, they’d lay waste to every institution and policy created before cable TV and start over.

 You want to close the gender gap? Boot the zombies and bring on the innovators.

Wouldn’t it be nice to hear President Jobs explain groundbreaking new technology that’s transformed education by delivering 100% customized curriculum directly to every child in America? (And is, by the way, much, much cheaper.)

Or to watch Warren Buffet and Oprah hashing out new fiscal policy? Or Isaac Newton and Jack Kemp working to overhaul entitlements?

Smaller government. Entrepreneurial freedom. Job creation. Schools where parents and local communities hold the power. This stuff is not new. It’s the ideal world Republicans have always fought to create.

But if we want to convince women, not to mention minorities and millennials, to join our movement, we’ve got to actually have one. People won’t follow the party of the government shutdown, or of 1950s views on “women’s” issues. They will follow hope. They’ll follow strength and confidence, and the party with a broad, optimistic vision, and with a new way — a better way — to get to that “shining city on a hill”.

Until we are that party — the NOT undead party — we’d better get used to women coming at us with torches and pitchforks instead of votes.  RF

Kim Alfano is the President and CEO of Alfano Communications, a Republican media consulting firm whose past clients have included former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels.

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