Alex Massie

Rebranding Republicanism

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Nate Silver says that while the Democratic "brand" is of marginal value in about half the country, the Republican "brand" is pretty toxic across two thirds of those United States. So, he has an idea:

You can actually make the argument -- although maybe it's not a good one -- that Republicans should in fact find a way to pull a Blackwater and switch their party ID when nobody is looking, from Republican to capital-C Conservative. This would probably involve at least some degree of bona fide structural change, and undoubtedly some near-term trauma: an orchestrated chaos. But the 'conservative' brand is just as powerful as it ever was in America, whereas the Republican brand is as weak as it has been.

Actually, this isn't a terrible idea by any means. Now you may say that the Republican brand hasn't been eroded to quite that extent and who knows perhaps you'd be right. But I think that across large parts of the US you might well have a better time selling a "Conservative" candidate than the same fellow campaigning under the "Republican" banner. As Silver says, would Doug Hoffman be doing as well in NY-23 if he had been the GOP candidate all along? That point may be moot.

Now this isn't likely to happen, but there is a sense - at least amongst some voters - that the GOP needs to rebrand itself. That is, like "New Labour" and David Cameron's new model Tories, the GOP needs to pass through a detoxification process. A name change might not be the best or most appropriate way to demonstrate this, but it's not the daftest notion in the world either.

As I say, it won't happen, not least because,among other reasons, the structure of American politics is such that the out-of-office party actually has no leadership worth the name that could deliver such a project. (nd there is a Conservative party already). But the idea remains neat and, if nothing else, is a reminder that whatever the election results today the GOP still has serious problems to deal with.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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