“It’s a mealy-mouthed sop to the tea party movement that is rife with platitudes and little on substance, I have yet to see one person who is wholly impressed with it.”—Andrew Ian Dodge, Maine state coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots.
That’s the consequence of raising expectations that the GOP has learned its lesson in the wilderness after being turned out of office four years ago. But while the TEA party movement is energizing the election process on both sides of the aisle, the Republicans have been thumped in their recent round of primaries because the independents who largely make up the TEA party movement just don’t believe many of these entrenched incumbents in reds states any more than they do the Democrats in blue states.
So the Pledge for America was designed to lay out a manifesto for what the GOP would do if voters just gave them another change. But instead of rolling out the Young Guns who symbolize the future of the party the GOP had John Boehner, the House minority leader—and would be speaker of the house—do the talking.
That was the sound of channel surfing as viewers and voters switched to something else. And then the comedians moved in with the ice picks to lay waste to the public relations gimmick. “Your fresh new ideas, sound slightly – I’m sorry, did I say slightly? – sound EXACTLY like your old ones,” said Jon Stewart slicing the GOP into minced meat.
This is not overconfidence by the Republicans that a landslide election result is already in the bag. This is worse—it is the voters’ worst fears that there really is NO DIFFERENCE between old donkeys and old elephants. That is why the TEA party has momentum.
So what should the GOP do?
Start fresh and dump the GOP leaders in Congress just like the Dems will surely do. Pass the leadership to the new generation of Young Guns with fresh ideas and a closer to Main Street sense of the public mood. Then republish the Pledge after fixing the missing or lame elements to demonstrate they mean business. The tea party contract calls for a balanced budget, repeal of the health care law, tax reform, an end to earmarks and a rejection of a cap and trade energy plan. That would be a good place for the GOP to say “ Me too!”