Can Republicans Recover From Trump?

Party needs a new brand, new policies, more pragmatism.

By - Oct 19th, 2016 03:47 pm
Donald Trump. Image from campaign website.

Donald Trump. Image from campaign website.

What must Donald Trump be thinking deep inside as he staggers to a humiliating defeat?

He is impossible to figure, but could it be similar to these quotes from the mouth of Shakespeare’s great outcast, King Lear?

King Lear

King Lear

“I am a man more sinned against than sinning.”

“O, let me not be mad, not mad, sweet heaven.”

It is cruel irony that the great brand-master is lurching head long into destroying two great brands: his own and that of the Republican Party.

His campaign, like Lear’s exit from the throne, is increasingly bereft of reality. His wild taunts over the weekend that Hillary Clinton was on drugs – “all pumped up” — during the last debate was based on zero evidence. She looked even-keeled to me.

As a result, his brand, his major asset, is rapidly eroding in value. It is based on him being a shrewd winner, not a desperate loser. After all of his self-inflicted damage, what sponsor would put the Trump name on a product aimed at the broad market going forward? His brand may still have value for some segments, but not the up-scale tiers he has played in heretofore.

As for the Grand Old Party, it will have a major rebranding project on its hands come Nov. 9.

Republican leaders know that. In Wisconsin, most of them still offer token support for their nominee, but they stay as far from his coat tails as they can get. Rep. James Sensenbrenner and Sen. Ron Johnson were conspicuously absent when The Donald made his appearance in West Bend.

Gov. Walker has been mostly out of sight since he dropped out of the presidential race. His early exit was a smart decision to sit this one out. Expect him to resurface after the Clinton’s election.

Speaker Paul Ryan has cut bait and is taking major flak from Trump and his passionate supporters for doing so. In the end, as he tries to resuscitate the party, his tough call may serve him well. His integrity will be somewhat intact. But it is just as likely that Trump will take Ryan down with him. A big chunk of the party may never forgive Ryan for jumping off Trump’s sinking ship, principled though it may have been. A new face may have to take the reins for the reboot of the party.

The millions of voters for Trump and Bernie Sanders, though in a minority in each party, cannot be ignored in the rebranding process. The GOP must address the frustrations of their supporters if it is to remain a force in American politics.

Their main complaint is economic stagnation, not getting ahead. They don’t think their children will be better off than they are. They want solutions, not ideology. Trump and Sanders were short on realistic solutions, but they voiced the anger of the disenfranchised.

Brand experts would probably not recommend changing the name of the Republican Party, though that may be considered. But they would want to add a new tag line. I suggest: “The Pragmatic Party, the party that solves problems.”

It would avoid ideology. Voters are tired of cant. They want ideas that work at ground level, driven by the private sector wherever possible, not by more government programs.

Ryan has already worked up a pragmatic platform called “A Better Way.” It’s a good start, but it needs to be more bold and more clear about major challenges facing the country and its distressed poor and middle class.

Here are some examples of pragmatic possible solutions:

Corporate Taxes: Both parties have proposed cutting the corporate tax rate to around 25% from 34%, the highest in the industrial world. Get it done.

Individual Taxes: The Earned Income Tax Credit ties subsidies to work. Expand it, and smooth out the removal of subsidies that penalize people who go to work at entry wage levels. Most policy people concur.

Job Creation. We have learned that all net new jobs come from entrepreneurs. Expand tax credits at the federal and state levels for investors who have the guts to invest in risky startups. The credits are working in Wisconsin. Note: almost all our great employers started here. That is true in most states.

Immigration. Listen to business people who say they can’t operate without immigrants. Give the illegals a work permit, but not citizenship. Resolve this nagging issue.

Trade. China is the main trading challenge. Cut a bilateral deal with that nation that allows more exports to the U.S. only if they allow an equal amount of exports from us. It’s called balanced trade. Work similar bilateral deals where the trade deficit is significant in either direction. Multilateral deals take way too long to get done, and they are now toxic politically.

Student Debt. Greatly expand credits and deductions for paying college tuition. Keep the heat on universities to go lean, reduce costs and tuitions.

Health Care. Follow the lead of private companies that have driven costs under control. Costs are the main issue; high costs cause the access issue. Value Healthcare means: self-insurance by all kinds of employers, so they are directly responsible in ground level units for managing risks; improved incentives for healthy living and smart consumerism, like expanded HSAs; bundled, transparent prices; and proactive primary care. The bloated health care industry has eroded the prosperity of American households. Amend Obamacare to become Value Healthcare.

Republicans must lie awake nights hoping that Trump will fade from view after a big loss and that he will allow the party to regroup. After all, he was a Democrat or independent for many more years than he was a Republican.

John Torinus is the chairman of Serigraph Inc. and a former Milwaukee Sentinel business editor who blogs regularly at johntorinus.com.

Categories: Op-Ed, Politics

5 thoughts on “Op-Ed: Can Republicans Recover From Trump?”

  1. PMD says:

    That is hardly a bold vision for a new Republican party. Is it really all that different from the old Republican party? That doesn’t look like a plan that will attract many new voters.

  2. blurondo says:

    “Can Republicans Recover From Trump?” No. Not unless they ban those who created him: the Tea Party.

  3. daniel golden says:

    Torinus ignores the main problem with the modern Republican Party-it has morphed from a somewhat principled party representing the interest of the moneyed class, to an unholy amalgam of billionaires and gullible suckers. The GOP 2012 election postmortem was clear in its conclusion that the GOP had to change in order to win elections on the national level. The problem was the postmortem focused on appearances, not policies. Paul Ryan quit talking about “the makers and the takers” but still proposed tax cuts for the wealthy. In addition the Republican Congress did nothing to change its image as the party of all politics all the time. When any actual legislation was proposed, it almost uniformly benefited the interests of the large corporations and the wealthy, those entities that have done the best in the uneven economic recovery since the 2008 great recession. When the Supreme Court needed a ninth Justice in order to function effectively, the GOP congress even refused to hold hearings. Torinus shares the lack of vision that is relegating the Republican Party to be regarded as the mouthpiece for the radical billionaires like the Koch brothers. Why does Torinus not suggest a pragmatic solution to our healthcare woes that has worked in every other nation with an advance economy, like single payer? Why does Torinus not suggest lifting the cap on Social Security taxes, which would overnight eliminate the 2034 partial payment problem. The paradox confronting Torinus and the GOP is this-if the GOP wants to recover its respectability, it would actually have to propose some polices that would offend its sponsors-the right wing billionaires who really want no minimum wage and like Donald Trump, wish to pay as little in taxes as they can, while relying on the Government for subsidies and protection from actual regulation. Not exactly a recipe to convince 51% of the electorate to vote for you, is it?

  4. Maggie says:

    “…what sponsor would put the Trump name on a product aimed at the broad market going forward?” Alas, The Donald doesn’t need anyone but himself to put his brand name on products. Which is why he is recklessly taking down the Republican party, his moneyed donors, and our democracy. Through his raunchy, nasty ride, his brand recognition has sky-rocketed, which has been his goal. This has never been about Donald Trump becoming POTUS. It’s been about Donald Trump getting his next reality TV show contract. What he has discovered in the process is that his audience of rabid supporters can translate into rabid viewers of not just a single show, but of an entire eponymous news network which will launch immediately upon him loosing the election. He will use said network to dog our democracy, incite violence, rant his unintelligible rants and take down politician after politician, reporters, his former donors and anyone else who opposes him or that he doesn’t like the look of, hamstringing our country for years to come. His marketing strategy is quite brilliant, actually: his donors have paid for his new network’s advertising campaign and he has 30% of the US population already signed on as loyal viewers. Imagine the advertising revenue! And he has a news anchor Farm Team pipeline already created via his beauty pageants. Beauty queens who comply will have their career path paved via Trump News Television (“TNT: It’s Explosive!”) . Trust me. It’s a bigly idea. Bigly.

    And it’s what he is doing. Anyone who has taken him at face value as an actual political candidate is, in his own lingo, a chump. Trump Chumps will become a term that we will be explaining the etymology of to our grandchildren. “Well darling, that term refers to otherwise smart, intelligent people who are taken for a ride by a very bad person. It means to be duped or fooled.”

    Torinus is dead wrong: Trump’s brand has never been stronger or more widely recognized and it’s the kind that CAN’T get trashed, because it is now built on hatred and vitriol. The “worse” it gets, the better it actually is.

  5. Rich says:

    Ryan has already worked up a pragmatic platform called “A Better Way.”

    You actually fell for the title of that? Hah, your entire point is completely irrelevant now…”Better” for who, exactly?

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