A lot of people are asking what the heck is wrong with the Republican Party.
That’s no joke. Not for the GOP, not for the country.
The party of Ronald Reagan is getting weaker by the week.
Republican failure, Republican infighting, Republicans caving on their principles - it’s a grim soap opera, and it’s playing out on the cable news channels every day.
How did the Republican Party ever fall to such depths?
The GOP was flying high when my father led it to victories in 1980 and 1984 on platforms built solidly - and proudly - on conservative principles.
So how was he so successful? It wasn’t just his conservative gospel, his communication skills or his sunny personality. My father had a man named Michael K. Deaver by his side for a long time.
When Deaver died in 2007, the Washington Post called him the “media maestro” who “shaped President Ronald Reagan’s public image for 20 years, transforming American politics with his powerful gift for image-making.”
Yes, Mike Deaver was a master of media stagecraft. But he was much more. He was the public relations arm of Ronald Reagan. He understood politics, the media, and the heart and mind of my father.
Deaver was able to marry all those things for the betterment of Ronald Reagan - and therefore the betterment of the Republican Party, conservatism and America.
You don’t see anyone like Deaver in today’s fractious Republican Party.
You don’t see anyone who understands how important it is to use the mainstream media to create the political perceptions that ultimately change the political reality.
Even though they talk about my father incessantly, Republican Party “leaders” don’t understand that it was Deaver and others, such as Lyn Nofziger, who made him a success.
They weren’t consultants to my father or the Republican Party. They were around Ronald Reagan because they were true believers in Ronald Reagan.
Right now, I don’t know if the Republican Party has anyone it can trust to lead it out of the basement. John Boehner can’t get anything done because Republicans are so fractionalized.
As we said last week, it’s been government by tantrum, but at some point that’s got to end.
This is where a Deaver or a Nofziger - the adult supervision - would have come in and said, “This is what needs to be said and done to save the GOP’s butt and reputation.”
So what can the Republican Party do now to show itself in a better light - not to Republicans, not to the Tea Party, but to the nation as a whole?
The GOP is always going to be a minority party, so the only way it can win in the long run is when it’s inclusive, not exclusive.
The GOP has to come out of this Obamacare/government shutdown debacle showing itself to be more inclusive, instead of being exclusive and pushing people out, which they can no longer afford to do.
At this point the president is not leading. But neither are the Republicans. They’re fighting, but they’re not leading.
It doesn’t matter that the Republicans’ failed attempt to stop or delay Obamacare was a “good fight” for conservative principles and the long-term good of the American people.
The drawn-out, poorly thought-out fight was doomed from the start and only weakened the GOP brand further.
To genuine conservatives, the GOP has become a party of spineless losers whose core beliefs about the size, scope and legitimate activities of government are virtually interchangeable with Democrats.
Yes, Republicans need another great leader to resurrect the party of Ronald Reagan. But they also need another Michael Deaver.
Otherwise, we may see the disintegration of the GOP as an important political force in the running of a government that gets bigger and nastier every day.
‑ Michael Reagan, the son of President Ronald Reagan, publishes his “Making Sense” columns through Cagle Cartoons, Inc.