GOP will have to rebrand after Trump

Donald Trump King LearWhat must Donald Trump be thinking deep inside as he staggers to a humiliating defeat?

He is impossible to figure, but could it be similar to these quotes from the mouth of Shakespeare’s great outcast, King Lear?

“I am a man more sinned against than sinning.”

“O, let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven.”

It is cruel irony that the great brand-master is lurching head long into destroying two great brands: his own and that of the Republican Party.

His campaign, like Lear’s exit from the throne, is increasingly bereft of reality. His wild taunts over the weekend that Hillary Clinton was on drugs – “all pumped up” — during the last debate was based on zero evidence. She looked even-keeled to me.

As a result, his brand, his major asset, is rapidly eroding in value. It is based on him being a shrewd winner, not a desperate loser. After all of his self-inflicted damage, what sponsor would put the Trump name on a product aimed at the broad market going forward? His brand may still have value for some segments, but not the up-scale tiers he has played in heretofore.

As for the Grand Old Party, it will have a major rebranding project on its hands come Nov. 9.

Republican leaders know that. In Wisconsin, most of them still offer token support for their nominee, but they stay as far from his coat tails as they can get. Rep. James Sensenbrenner and Sen. Ron Johnson were conspicuously absent when The Donald made his appearance in West Bend.

Gov. Walker has been mostly out of sight since he dropped out of the presidential race. His early exit was a smart decision to sit this one out. Expect him to resurface after the Clinton’s election.

Speaker Paul Ryan has cut bait and is taking major flak from Trump and his passionate supporters for doing so. In the end, as he tries to resuscitate the party, his tough call may serve him well. His integrity will be somewhat intact. But it is just as likely that Trump will take Ryan down with him. A big chunk of the party may never forgive Ryan for jumping off Trump’s sinking ship, principled though it may have been. A new face may have to take the reins for the reboot of the party.

The millions of voters for Trump and Bernie Sanders, though in a minority in each party, cannot be ignored in the rebranding process. The GOP must address the frustrations of their supporters if it is to remain a force in American politics.

Their main complaint is economic stagnation, not getting ahead. They don’t think their children will be better off than they are. They want solutions, not ideology. Trump and Sanders were short on realistic solutions, but they voiced the anger of the disenfranchised.

Brand experts would probably not recommend changing the name of the Republican Party, though that may be considered. But they would want to add a new tag line. I suggest: “The Pragmatic Party, the party that solves problems.”

It would avoid ideology. Voters are tired of cant. They want ideas that work at ground level, driven by the private sector wherever possible, not by more government programs.

Ryan has already worked up a pragmatic platform called “A Better Way.” It’s a good start, but it needs to be more bold and more clear about major challenges facing the country and its distressed poor and middle class.

Here are some examples of pragmatic possible solutions:

Corporate Taxes: Both parties have proposed cutting the corporate tax rate to around 25% from 34%, the highest in the industrial world. Get it done.
Individual Taxes: The Earned Income Tax Credit ties subsidies to work. Expand it, and smooth out the removal of subsidies that penalize people who go to work at entry wage levels. Most policy people concur.

Job Creation. We have learned that all net new jobs come from entrepreneurs. Expand tax credits at the federal and state levels for investors who have the guts to invest in risky startups. The credits are working in Wisconsin. Note: almost all our great employers started here. That is true in most states.

Immigration. Listen to business people who say they can’t operate without immigrants. Give the illegals a work permit, but not citizenship. Resolve this nagging issue.

Trade. China is the main trading challenge. Cut a bilateral deal with that nation that allows more exports to the U.S. only if they allow an equal amount of exports from us. It’s called balanced trade. Work similar bilateral deals where the trade deficit is significant in either direction. Multilateral deals take way too long to get done, and they are now toxic politically.

Student Debt. Greatly expand credits and deductions for paying college tuition. Keep the heat on universities to go lean, reduce costs and tuitions.

Health Care. Follow the lead of private companies that have driven costs under control. Costs are the main issue; high costs cause the access issue. Value Healthcare means: self-insurance by all kinds of employers, so they are directly responsible in ground level units for managing risks; improved incentives for healthy living and smart consumerism, like expanded HSAs; bundled, transparent prices; and proactive primary care. The bloated health care industry has eroded the prosperity of American households. Amend Obamacare to become Value Healthcare.

Republicans must lie awake nights hoping that Trump will fade from view after a big loss and that he will allow the party to regroup. After all, he was a Democrat or independent for many more years than he was a Republican.

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  • Duke

    John – with few exceptions you have written the platform for the political party that will succeed the GOP. On November 9th, the day after Trump burns down the Republican Party, there will be a new place for those of us (you included) that found the Republican nominee to be little more than a toady for the Clinton Mafia.

    There won’t be any “rebranding” of the GOP, just initially an adjunct Conservative (read pragmatic and problem-solving) party that believes in a small federal government that adheres to the Constitution, with most of the political power vested in the individual states. Without the support of this faction the Republicans will be placed on notice that they have caused their last trumpster-dumpster fire; if they have a desire to lose, just nominate another Trump. After a couple years and a couple elections I predict the new Unified Conservative Party will have a complete slate of its own candidates and the Republican dumpster fire will have burned out.

    I’ve read both of your books and I totally agree with your approach to health insurance (not the same as health care). What I totally oppose is the supposition that the federal government belongs in the health insurance business in any way, shape or form. Everything they touch turns to crap: case in point, ObamaCare!

    • JohnTorinus

      The GOP, not very grand at this point, has a ton of work to do.

  • Jerry

    John the GOP is really not about conservative values and small government but rather about control of government no matter its size by small numbers of wealthy individuals and corporate entities. Ryan doesn’t want to work across the aisle to find solutions to public problems. He wants to direct the play [BETTER WAY] but the Koch brothers and their nationwide political bank and organization own the actors [Republican congressmen and state legislators]. All they really want to do is cut taxes on the wealthy and corporate wealth to starve government of the funds needed for public service activities. Without sufficient revenue Ryan will naturally declare that cuts to entitlements , environment healthcare, education and above all regulations on banks, Wall Street, corporate and business regulations such as the EPA must occur. The final nail will then be to turn all of these public service functions over to private companies owned by you guessed it the very same people who own our legislative leaders. It’s not about returning government to the people or about diminishing the size of government it’s about diminishing the control of government to a small number of self serving elite wealthy individuals. The Walker/Vos supposed experiment in conservative governing in Wisconsin hasn’t reduced the size of Wisconsin’s government. Rather it has been about rule making centering political power in one party that is owned by wealthy elites, many from beyond Wisconsin’s borders and giving control to these wealthy special interests that have then diminished our environment, education and economy for their own profit. Conservatism is no longer about small government and individual freedom. It has been hijacked to be about cuts for corporations, free trade and deep cuts in entitlement programs. Paul Ryan talks of a “better way” and his “roadmap for America”, but all of this has always only been talk, his proposals are never fleshed out, because in the end they don’t serve all the people or even most of the people. In the end they serve the few people he wants to govern the rest of us!

    • JohnTorinus

      Pretty bleak outlook. The “elites” I know are working their butts off to keep their companies and communities alive and thriving. It ain’t that easy for most business owners. Where would we be without them?

  • Bob Dohnal

    Neither are even keel, read my article.

    • Bill Schalmo

      The Republican Party has failed us beyond repair; I doubt it will survive its stupidity. If the never Trumpers think the Trump base will come back , they’re delusional. In the future, possibly a new populist party may form and have a chance at knocking off the Obama/Clinton power machine. Who’s not absolutely astonished by Dems criminally taking control of all 3 branches of our government, plus the AG and FBI. Where is the Republican leadership? I hear Ryan leads fellow Republicans and Dems in early morning work out classes. While Trump may be the second to last person I’d ever support, he’s our best chance at stopping this insane liberal revolution. C’mon.

  • Bob Dohnal

    Jerr,y silyl. the big money goes to the Dems these days, do you research. The GOP is small guys etc. All you are doing is siting talking points.

    • Jerry

      Bob……..what world are you in. The typical household is still worse off today than it was in 2000, adjusted for inflation. Family assets of the typical family are less than in 1984. The Koch political bank is just south of $1billion. Major corporations are through the roof in earnings with CEO’S and shareholders doing great while the employees are left with empty hands. Both parties need to stand for more than just using tactics to seize and hold power. It’s long past time to reverse the declining incomes and wealth of most Americans. Unless our economy is rebalanced and American capitalism begins to reward all of us we will return to the Gilded Age. Only political courage can save us……………something that most politicians are in short supply of!

      • Bob Dohnal

        I agree, that is the result of the Obama policies.

  • Bill Kraus

    The “never again”movement has a very long agenda of systemic flaws that need correcting. The most obvious one is slating. The parties are pretty much powerless, but a step toward importance would be putting them, not lightly attended primaries or the Dems compromise, in charge of slating. The inability of the GOP to limit the field of wannabes made The Donald possible. The Dems buying into “It’s her turn” and forgetting how that worked for the GOP in 1964 made Hillary inevitable. These are systemic flaws accompanied by the “we know what’s good for you” arrogance of the Dems and the total surrender to states love affair with primaries by the GOB that got us to where we are and don’t want to be, voting for the least unlikable.

    • JohnTorinus

      Agree that the parties should have the power to head off candidacies like Trump’s. The parties need to be agents of cohesion, not divisiveness.