NCNA, WE HARDLY KNEW YE…. About a year ago, the Republican “rebranding effort” was considered a pretty big deal in GOP circles. The National Council for a New America, in particular, enjoyed the support of leading GOP voices — Cantor, Romney, McCain, Bush, Gingrich, Palin, Jindal, and Barbour — and even managed to organize an outside-the-Beltway event, which just happened to be inside the Beltway.
But since then, nothing. No events, no media, no website updates, no discussion of party rebranding at any level. By the summer, the NCNA project had become something of an embarrassment.
And now, almost a year to the day after launching to significant fanfare, the effort appears to have been scrapped altogether.
On the home page of the National Council for a New America, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) greets visitors with the suggestion that they nominate their hometown to host one of the council’s national town hall meetings.
But the council isn’t coming to your town — the year-old group is defunct.
Cantor aides explained that the group has been “suspended” one year after its splashy launch in part because of the intense negative attention it received from the Democratic campaign committees and other groups after its introduction.
Yes, of course, we should have known. Eric Cantor had no choice but to give up on his misguided rebranding campaign because Democrats mocked it. Those all-powerful Democratic press releases forced a Republican effort led by some of the GOP’s heaviest hitters to close its doors. It’s amazing Dems don’t issue more press releases given their apparent potency.
Stepping back, early enthusiasm for the effort notwithstanding, it’s not at all clear the Republican Party is ready for a rebranding campaign. As a rule, the whole point of rebranding is to offer the public something new and fresh, demonstrating a break with the past in order to present something old in a new light. And yet, when this project got underway, party leaders had a debate amongst themselves over whether Reagan should be the template for GOP rebranding. Worse, half the party was outraged those leading the initiative weren’t focusing on issues like abortion and gay rights.
For that matter, most of the party seemed to make a calculus early on about their future electoral successes, and rebranding wasn’t part of the equation. Republicans would attack the president and congressional Democrats, and hope for the best.
If Dems are successful, the reasoning goes, voters will reward the majority. If not, Republicans stand a chance, whether they’ve been rebranded or not. It’s a recipe that calls for obstruction, deception, and petty partisanship, not reintroducing the GOP to the electorate.