- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 11, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Virginia Rep. Tom Davis says Republicans must rebrand the party in order to survive, not by reinventing the formula but by showing that the party is open to different kinds of people with new ideas.

Perhaps the best analogies on what not to do is what Coca-Cola did in 1985. The company reinvented its soft-drink formula in an effort to compete with Pepsi. It tasted horrible. New Coke was devoid of anything that was Coca-Cola, or could be conceivably recognized as such.

What the Republicans should do is what the Xerox Corporation did in the 1990s. Xerox began to lose respectability as the business solutions company with its all-in-one copiers because consumers thought they were in an age of home computers and a burgeoning Internet. IBM rebranded in a way that kept the core of the company, copiers, but included other innovative technologies like smaller, faster computers and servers.

Rebranding doesn’t mean you have to change the product completely.

Political parties like corporations do better when they are “attracting people and have welcome mats out,” Mr. Davis said in a morning meeting with editors and reporters at The Washington Times. The Republican Party began to shrink when it became exclusionary, requiring “admissions tests” to join or “run for office,” and making social issues like flag-burning and gay marriage center pieces of the party’s identity at the expense of fiscal-conservative principles.

Republicans got too comfortable and started making decisions to protect their members instead of being bold and innovative, like they were when they created the Contract with America.

President Bush’s approval ratings hovering around 28 percent for two years coupled with an unpopular war and a sprinkling of perceived and often times real corruption contributed to the downfall as well. “Voters didn’t elect the Democrats in 2006; they unelected us,” he said.

That actually leaves room for hope. The Democrat-controlled Congress’ approval ratings have only cracked 30 percent three times in the last year and is currently at 16 percent.

Now let’s look at how they won. They won by going after Jim Webb, Brad Ellsworth, Heath Shuler and many others who either were or “would have been Republicans” just four years ago. The Democrats, instead of shooing them away, astutely welcomed them to the Blue Dog neighborhood of Donkey town.

Republicans still in office, though, need to swing wide the door to fiscal conservatism. There is still much work to be done.

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