Luntz takes a long time to get to his prescription for the GOP, but finally gets there:
The path to a GOP majority must be paved with solutions to the real problems of real people. Republicans should talk about expanding health savings accounts and educating Americans about the benefits they offer. They should commit to sunsetting government programs every four years unless continuing them can be justified. They should pledge the investment necessary to develop renewable fuels and alternative energy. They should challenge Democrats to tackle the burgeoning tax code and fight for tax simplification on behalf of hardworking taxpayers.I don't like the Democratic agenda, but at least they are positing ideas. Despite their campaign rhetoric of all war, all the time, the Democrats came to power with a plan. I had chastened the Democrats when they were the minority for not offering alternatives and now I must chastise the GOP to not do the same.
Republicans need a spirited, intellectually based rebuttal to every piece of Democratic legislation and an alternative to every policy -- not a new parliamentary maneuver.
The beauty of being the minority party is that you get to offer alternatives and dare the majority party to ignore them at their peril. Even now, Nancy Pelosi is finding it much more difficult to pass legislation than to propose it. The responsibility for governing may lead to a dearth of ideas, but being in the minority can lead to beautiful idea generation. For that reason, Luntz's advice is important. But the advice is also important on another level.
In 2008, the voters will have an opportunity to vote "for something." While 2006 may have been an aberration in that a large portion of the electorate, Luntz estimates about 16 percent, voted against the GOP instead of for the Democrats, there is an opportunity to steal those voters back. By offering ideas, solutions and a positive outlook, the GOP can win in 2008, both the White House and Congress if they are smart and aggressive in their ideas. From Luntz:
How incredible that the antidote to what ails the Republicans can be found in the words of a famous Democrat. In his tragic run for the presidency in 1968, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy said, "Some men see things as they are and say, 'Why?' I dream of things that never were and say, 'Why not?' " The magnificent poetry of that challenge -- to do more and to do better -- is at the core of who we are as a society, what we want for America and for ourselves. Here is the reason why the Republican Party has faded from relevance in the past two years.While modern political operatives tend to think of voters as a massive group of idiots, I believe that if you take the time to explain your ideas, rather than "brand" or soundbite them out, you can convince Americans try new things.
Despite its many problems, the United States remains a nation of dreamers. The American psyche is genetically wired to see possibilities. Faith in the future is in our DNA. It's why we historically vote for the more positive, hopeful, upbeat candidates.
Like Luntz, my advice to the GOP can be summed up in just a few words: Be positive, ask and lead but don't tell voters how to act. Above all, listen, listen, listen.