Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will serve as the keynote speaker at the Missouri Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Banquet next weekend in St. Louis.
It will be interesting to see what kind of reception the “tell it like it is” Jindal, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, receives in the Show-Me state.
Jindal created some waves last month at the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting when he said that the GOP needed to “stop being the stupid party” and rethink how they’re talking to Americans.
He counseled his colleagues to talk “like adults” and cut out the type of “offensive and bizarre” rhetoric that had damaged the party’s chances in a number of Senate contests last cycle.
Jindal was specifically referring to Missouri Rep. Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock of Indiana who both lost their Senate races in November after making controversial comments about rape. But he was also addressing the larger issue of the GOP message in the last election and on a range of other pressing issues.
The “stupid” remark drew immediate criticism from some elements in the Republican ranks who thought the term went too far. Members of the Tea Party pounced on him.
You can quibble with Jindal’s word choice but there is no denying that Republicans need to rethink their message. What else can you conclude about a party that lost decisively in the November elections. What else can you say about a party whose approval rating is 26 percent in a recent poll.
The Republican party needs a makeover. It needs a rebranding. It needs to be less rigid and more agile.
The Republican Party’s center of gravity has shifted dramatically to the right in recent decades, which has left it ill-suited to cope with cultural and demographic changes that have occurred in the country. The party needs to move ideologically away from the far right fringe of the party that has held it hostage for too long.
That won’t be easy. The loudest voices in the party inhabit the far right. They don’t believe in looking in the mirror or circumspection of any kind. To many right wing true believers, there is no compromise.
Some have already repudiated Jindal’s arguments as nothing more than capitulation. They miss the point. What the party doesn’t need to do is abandon its core principals which still resonate with the majority of Americans. Politically, we are still a center-right country.
Polls consistently show the majority of Americans consider themselves moderate or conservative. The same majority of Americans want smaller government. They believe in the conservative principles of self-reliance, faith in the individual, trust in the family, and accountability in government.
Yet, as Jindal points out, they still voted for President Obama the last two elections.
So Jindal and other high-profile Republican leaders such as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and vice-president candidate Paul Ryan are making the rounds saying that the GOP must reposition itself if it is to re-establish itself as a governing force.
They are making the case for GOP unity and a new message that incorporates empathy over extremism on a host of issues.
Jindal has the answers. And no one should confuse him for anything but a conservative. The question is, are Republicans listening?