Rand Paul

Rand Paul: GOP Brand "Sucks" Like Domino's Pizza

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Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) wants the GOP to avoid the political equivalent of the Domino's Pizza Noid.

The Noid was the late, ulamented mascot of Domino's Pizza long before the company admitted just how bad its pizza really was.

From The Hill:

Paul acknowledged Wednesday a problem that many Republicans admit only privately: their party brand "sucks."  

The weakness, Paul added, is particularly serious when it comes to appealing to black voters.

"Remember Domino's Pizza? They admitted, 'Hey, our pizza crust sucks.' The Republican Party brand sucks and so people don't want to be a Republican and for 80 years, African-Americans have had nothing to do with Republicans," he said.

"Why? Because of a perception," he said. "The problem is the perception is that no one in the Republican Party cares."

Read the whole thing.

Actually, I'd argue that the deeper problem is that the perception is actually pretty accurate. With the notable exception of school choice, the typical Republican politician doesn't spend a lot of time talking about public policies that would have a particularly positive affect on black communities. Some of that is understandable, given that blacks overwhelmingly vote for Democrats. But the failure to reach out to African Americans even rhetorically doesn't just sour black voters on the Party of Lincoln, either. It alienates a lot of moderates and independents who are bothered by the way in which Republicans seem indifferent, if not hostile, to blacks. While white Republicans have only marginally higher results on indices of negative racial attitudes than white Democrats, they are also dealing with a particularly charged recent history that includes Nixon's southern strategy, Barry Goldwater's willingness to pander to neo-Confederates, and even his father's racist newsletters. That sort of narrative isn't going to rewrite itself.

For more than the past year, Paul has been engaging black audiences around the country. It's precisely this sort of activity that helps make him "the most interesting man in politics" according to Time. And it's not simply on this issue, of course. He's actually pushing for new discussions on privacy, sentencing reform, military spending, domestic spending, foreign policy, and more.

In other words, he's taking the future of his party seriously. After the 2012 election and Mitt Romney's pathetic showing against the weakest sitting president in recent memory, that GOP promised a thorough, top-to-bottom overhaul of its messages and policies. Not much has really come of that effort. That's partly understandable: The Dems and Obama have been so relentlessly bad on so many things, all the GOP has to do is keep quiet and they can win back the Senate. But when Rand Paul and others point out that the party's limited-government rhetoric doesn't match its spending record, foreign policy, or respect for privacy and civil liberties, you'd think the reformers were preaching Menshevism or something.

Republicans can bitch and moan about how unfair it all is and how no, really, they've never done anything wrong (even increasing spending under George W. Bush by 55 percent in real dollars). But the fact is that even big wins next week won't change the party's long-term problems connecting with voters. Self-identification as Republican hit a 25-year low among voters this year. That's a sign of a "brand" that needs changing. Unsolicited advice: Try actually living up to your semi-libertarian rhetoric when it comes to reducing the size, scope, and spending of government at all levels. Even if you bank on the Democrats sucking all the time (not a bad gamble), people can always disaffiliate with either party out of disgust. Which is exactly what's happening.

In April 2013, Reason TV covered Paul's speech about race and politics at Howard University. That was the first stop in his continuing outreach to minority audiences that the GOP has ignored for years. Take a look at reactions: