Greg Sargent reports on RNC Chair Mike Duncan’s latest thinking:
In a frank and private memo sent today to Republican National Committee members, the RNC chairman acknowledges that the GOP has grown too addicted to ideology, places politics before policy, and is bereft of ideas — and that it’s imperative that the party shift towards a genuine effort to develop concrete policy solutions to people’s problems in order to rescue itself.
The memo, which we obtained from a Republican operative. was written by RNC chief Mike Duncan to explain the RNC’s decision — first reported by Politico — to create a new in-house think tank called the “Center for Republican Renewal,” which is devoted to coming up with new policies and ideas to chart a new direction for the party after November’s devastating losses.
I think this is a mistake. Ambitious people don’t like the idea that their fate is out of their hands. But an opposition political party’s fate is largely out of its hands. The Democratic Party’s recovery from its low ebb in the winter of 2004–2005 had very little to do with Democratic policy innovation and a great deal to do with the fact that the objective situation facing the country got worse. The time for the GOP to improve, policy-wise, was back then. Had the Bush administration been animated by better ideas, Bush might not have led to declining incomes, rising inequality, and catastrophic military adventures. But since he did, the GOP lost. And now the reality is that it’s the Democrats’ turn to govern. If things work out poorly, the GOP will get back in whether or not they have an ideological renewal, and if things work out well the Republicans will stay locked out.
But the time when it’s smart politics to have smart policies is when you’re governing. The public is okay at assessing results, and not otherwise that impressed by policy arguments.