The RNC's Problem: We have a great product, but the people in DC have no idea how to sell it

Now recently, the RNC unveiled their 100-page, 219-point plan for winning the youth and saving the party. Count ’em, these are 100 pages, 219 points. Now the RNC Chairman, Reince Priebus, ordered this report, what many are calling an autopsy report, to examine what went wrong last November. Now, he told me at CPAC, don’t call it an autopsy report. Well, Mr. Chairman, if you don’t modify your strategy, it’s gonna be.

Not one point of this 219-point plan mentioned how to better use blogs for messaging. In fact, blog wasn’t mentioned at all, and social media was only mentioned once, and that was only in the context of fundraising, not as a platform for messaging or marketing. These omissions show me that the RNC still doesn’t get it.

And while the Peacock Press routinely trashed our candidates and our ideology all around the web, blogs and social media became the battlefield where narratives were born and where narratives died. It was the denizens of new media who fact-checked the press and made famous those reporters who grew fat and lazy off the scraps of DNC press releases. The best chance at equal treatment for our candidates came from new media. An entire generation changed its news consumption.

Now, there was a discussion on ideological purity and messaging and growing the base within this report, although I kind of get the feeling that the authors of this report, most of whom are former Bush aides, simply just had a one-sided conversation with one another on the definition of purity. In fact, they write in here, I think it’s on page eight, “Our standard should not be universal purity, it should be a more but welcoming conservatism.”

Now, the authors are correct. I’ll give some credit. They are correct in that the GOP needs to personalize policy, but on page eight of this report, they give more attention to the government as a trampoline rather than taking a moment to really light a fire and encourage the private sector to stop outsourcing the stewardship of their fellow man. Now, what a way to personalize policy and change the narrative of safety nets in one fell swoop.

Now, speaking of messaging, in an interview on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, the RNC Chairman gave the impression that he holds the few idiotic remarks during the election cycle as the sole reason for GOP losses. He admitted that the RNC outreach after these remarks was insufficient, which is examined in the earlier pages of that report. Now, again, they just don’t get it.

If the party was a healthy party, if the party wasn’t already rotting away from within due to the decay of moderate constitutionalism, manifest in policies like No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, TARP, et cetera, it would’ve been much more difficult to topple the party’s electoral chances based on a few stupid remarks. Now, people can forgive a dumb comment when the offender apologizes, but they can’t forgive the increased nationalization of their education and additional entitlement programs while the offenders behind those programs insist in telling us that it’s compassionate conservatism.

Now, here’s where the report was correct. It noted that the demographic of the country has changed. The electorate has changed. More youth than ever are voting. Romney lost the under-30 vote by more than 5 million; however, the solution isn’t to water down Conservatism, because watered-down Conservatism never works at the polls. When faced between the choice of a Democrat or a Republican trying to be a Democrat, voters are always going to choose a Democrat.

Give voters a choice. Give us a choice, politicians. Don’t cede your principles because your stuffed shirts on K Street can’t figure out how to sell liberty for the six figures you pay ’em. We need to become better marketers. Now, the president has a logo for everything, even his recent trip to Israel. Look, I bet he even has an official Obama logo for when he eats breakfast. I’m not even certain that that isn’t his logo.

Being a Democrat has become a lifestyle brand, much in the same way that people but Apple stickers on their cars or purchase a Harley. Brands are now self-expression. Brands identify people without needing a single conversation. Luxury labels, like Louis Vuitton, hire famous people like Michael Phelps or Angelina Jolie to appear alongside their products with the hope that the stars’ allure will rub off on the product.

Fashion companies send their products to celebrities hoping that paparazzi will capture an image of them with their product, and in turn the public will see this, and it’ll drive up demand. Politics is the exact same way. Democrats hobnob with Hollywood to borrow legitimacy and allure. Sometimes it’s symbiotic. Jay-Z pops some tops with President Obama, Obama looks cool and connected to culture, Jay-Z looks like his influence extends outside of the entertainment industry.

Chris Dodd is on the board of the Motion Pictures Association of America for crying out loud. Hollywood has its own lobbyist in the Senate, and of course we can’t forget First Lady Michelle Obama presented the best picture award at the Oscars this year.

Do you remember the Apple versus PC commercials? This is how the left markets. Guess which one of these guys is perceived as being GOP? The left gets branding; we don’t. They’re so good at marketing and branding that they’re able to sell federal servitude. They have a horrible, horrible product, and that’s half of the battle right there. And on this, we got ’em beat.

We, on the other hand, have a great product, but unfortunately we have a bunch of people in D.C. that have no idea how to sell it, and it’s sad, too, because there are so many conservatives who’ve cut their teeth on marketing and new media and so much more who would just love to help steer the current winnable party into a new direction. Unfortunately, I personally know several instances where younger more connected new media wunderkinds were rejected by politicians in favor of those outdated K Street brokers.

These stuffed shirts run a consulting racket, ORCA, anybody? I mean, the ultimate fail whale, and they create ads that fall into one of two categories, the I love my country ad, and the look at how bad this other guy is ad. Now, the first is devoid of a great pitch, and the second just makes candidates look like whiny, negative Nancys with no solutions. I mean, honestly, who doesn’t love their country and think that the other guy is worse?

Democrats were sprinting away from ObamaCare; yet, I don’t recall a single major Republican ad that used Nancy Pelosi’s famous sound bite:

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Nancy Pelosi: But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it away from the fog of the controversy.

Dana Fog – Yes, the Akin sound bite was stupid, but I didn’t see a single GOP rebuttal which asked, what is the real stupidity, a comment with no impact or choosing to not offer rape survivors protection against having the details of their case made public via vote as one former Illinois senator did? I sometimes feel like the RNC has bought into the left’s stereotype of Conservatives and through this perspective tries its outreach.

Now, I don’t agree with Paul Ryan on everything, but when he walked out on stage in Ohio to AC/DC, I almost straight up fell over. And when Marco Rubio personalized his family story and sold voters on the renewed American dream, I saw some hope, real hope. It’s not hard to sell liberty folks, not hard at all. Do you want the mediocrity of slavery or the rich opportunity of freedom? And that, ladies and gents, is the thing on which the RNC should focus.

The themes of healing and redemption appear throughout the Bible.

Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. — 1 Corinthians 15:43
It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. — Mark 2:17.

So, for many Christians, it's no surprise to hear that people of faith live longer lives.

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise. — Jeremiah 17:14.

But it is certainly lovely to hear, and a recent study by a doctoral student at Ohio State University is just one more example of empirical evidence confirming the healing benefits of faith and religious belief.

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Moreover, the study finds that religious belief can lengthen a person's life.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. — Proverbs 17:22
Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health. You restore my health and allow me to live! — Isaiah 38:16

The study analyzed over 1,000 obituaries nationwide and found that people of faith lived longer than people who were not religious. Laura Wallace, lead author of the study, noted that "religious affiliation had nearly as strong an effect on longevity as gender does, which is a matter of years of life."

The study notes that, "people whose obits mentioned a religious affiliation lived an average of 5.64 years longer than those whose obits did not, which shrunk to 3.82 years after gender and marital status were considered."

And He called to Him His twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. — Matthew 10:1

"The researchers found that part of the reason for the boost in longevity came from the fact that many religiously affiliated people also volunteered and belonged to social organizations, which previous research has linked to living longer. The study provides persuasive evidence that there is a relationship between religious participation and how long a person lives," said Baldwin Way, co-author of the study and associate professor of psychology at Ohio State.

Prayer is good medicine, and faith is a good protector.

In addition, the study showed how the effects of religion on longevity might depend in part on the personality and average religiosity of the cities where people live, Way said.

Prayer is good medicine, and faith is a good protector.

And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. — Luke 5:17
Heal the sick in it and say to them, The kingdom of God has come near to you. — Luke 10:9.

In early June, the Social Security and Medicare trustees released their annual report on the fiscal health of these programs, and the situation looks dire. Medicare is scheduled to run out of money in 2026 (three years sooner than anticipated), while Social Security is expected to run out in 2034. The rising national debt is only one of the well-known financial struggles the millennial generation faces. The burdens of student loan debt, high housing prices (thanks to zoning restrictions), stagnant wage growth, the rising cost of healthcare and lingering aftershocks of the Great Recession are among the biggest sources of economic anxiety millennials feel.

Progressive politicians have been very successful at courting the youth vote, partly because they actually promote policy ideas that address many of these concerns. As unrealistic or counterproductive as Senator Bernie Sanders' proposals for single-payer health care or a $15 an hour minimum wage might be, they feel in theory like they would provide the economic stability and prosperity millennials want.

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Republicans, on the other hand, have struggled to craft a message to address these concerns. Fiscal conservatives recognize, correctly, that the burden of the $20 trillion national debt and over $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities will fall on millennials. Some conservatives have even written books about that fact. But the need to reform entitlements hasn't exactly caught millennials' attention. Pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson, in her book The Selfie Vote, notes that millennials generally view protecting the safety net as more important than reducing the deficit.

Clearly, Republicans have a problem. They need to craft solutions that address the millennial generation's struggles, but they can't seem to sell entitlement reform, their biggest policy preference that addresses those problems. The Republican approach to wooing millennials on policy is failing because talking about stopping the debt from reaching an unsustainable level is long-term and abstract, and offers few immediate tangible benefits. A new approach to both pave the way for entitlement reform and give millennials an immediate financial boost is to first reform not entitlement spending, but the payroll tax: specifically, by partially (or wholly) replacing it with a value-added tax.

Under the current Social Security model, workers pay for the benefits of current retirees through the payroll tax. This system creates the illusion of a pension program, in which what you put in is what you get out, but in reality Social Security is a universal safety net program for the elderly paid for by taxes. The payroll tax falls on workers and is a tax on labor, while the value-added tax (VAT) is a tax on consumption imposed at every part of the production process. Assuming that this policy change is revenue-neutral, switching to a VAT will shift the responsibility for funding Social Security and Medicare away from workers, disproportionately poorer and younger, and onto everyone participating in the economy as a whole. Furthermore, uncoupling Social Security funding from payroll taxes would pave the way for fiscal reforms to transform the program from a universal benefit program to one geared specifically to eliminating old-age poverty, such as means-testing benefits for high-income beneficiaries, indexing benefits to prices rather than wages or changing the retirement age.

Switching from the payroll tax to the VAT would address both conservative and liberal tax policy preferences.

Switching from the payroll tax to the VAT would address both conservative and liberal tax policy preferences. As the Tax Policy Center notes, the change would actually make the tax system more progressive. The current payroll tax is regressive, meaning that people with lower incomes tend to pay a higher effective tax rate than people with higher incomes. On the other hand, the value-added tax is much closer to proportional than the payroll tax, meaning that each income group pays closer to the same effective tax rate.

For Republicans, such a change would fit conservative economic ideas about the long-run causes of economic growth. A value-added tax has a much broader base than the payroll tax, and therefore would allow for much lower marginal tax rates, and lower marginal tax rates mean smaller disincentives to economic activity. According to the Tax Foundation's analysis of a value-added tax, the VAT would be a more economically efficient revenue source than most other taxes currently in the tax code.

Not only would replacing part or all of the payroll tax provide an immediate benefit to millennial taxpayers, it would also open the door for the much-needed entitlement reforms that have been so politically elusive. Furthermore, it would make the tax code both more pro-growth and less regressive. In order to even begin to address the entitlement crisis, win millennial support and stimulate the economy in a fiscally responsible manner, Republicans must propose moving from the payroll tax to the VAT.

Alex Muresianu is a Young Voices Advocate. His writing has appeared in Townhall and The Federalist. He is a federal policy intern at the Tax Foundation. Opinions expressed here are his only and not the views of the Tax Foundation. He can be found on Twitter @ahardtospell.

Glenn was joined by Alanna Sarabia from "Good Morning Texas" at Mercury Studios on Thursday for an exclusive look at Mercury Museum's new "Rights & Responsibilities" exhibit. Open through Father's Day, the temporary museum features artifacts from pop culture, America's founding, World Ward II and more, focusing on the rights and responsibilities America's citizens.

Get tickets and more information here.

Watch as Glenn gives a sneak peek at some of the unique artifacts on display below.

History at the Mercury Museum

Alanna Sarabia interviews Glenn Beck for "Good Morning Texas" at Mercury Studios.

Several months ago, at the Miss Universe competition, two women took a selfie, then posted it on Instagram. The caption read, "Peace and love." As a result of that selfie, both women faced death threats, and one of the women, along with her entire family, had to flee her home country. The occasion was the 2017 Miss Universe competition, and the women were Miss Iraq and Miss Israel. Miss Iraq is no longer welcome in her own country. The government threatened to strip her of her crown. Of course, she was also badgered for wearing a bikini during the competition.

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In an interview, Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, said:

When I posted the picture I didn't think for a second there would be blowback. I woke up to calls from my family and the Miss Iraq Organization going insane. The death threats I got online were so scary. The director of the Miss Iraq Organization called me and said they're getting heat from the ministry. He said I have to take the picture down or they will strip me of my title.

Yesterday, Miss Iraq, Sarah Idan, posted another selfie with Miss Israel, during a visit to Jerusalem.

In an interview, she said that:

I don't think Iraq and Israel are enemies; I think maybe the governments are enemies with each other. There's a lot of Iraqi people that don't have a problem with Israelis.

This is, of course, quite an understatement: Iraq, home to roughly 15,000 Palestinians, refuses to acknowledge Israel as a legitimate country, as it is technically at war with Israel. The adages says that a picture is worth a thousand words. What are we to do when many of those words are hateful or deadly? And how can we find the goodness in such bad situations?