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The Problem isn’t the GOP “Brand,” it’s the Ratheads

Nick Phillips is running against Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald in the leadership election scheduled for November.

And while I’ve been a longtime ally of McDonald’s – dating back to when he was first elected to the Las Vegas City Council while I was Clark County GOP chairman – I have nothing against Phillips.

However, an email Mr. Phillips put out this week demands a response because it’s so reflective of the misguided thinking of all too many Republicans – here in Nevada and nationally – especially establishment Republicans.

Here are some excerpts of what Phillips put out…

“Branding is keeping your promises – implicit and explicit – again and again. No flinching. No going wrong. No making errors. No taking it easy.   It is time for the Nevada State Republican Party to initiate a strong, memorable, and effective brand. As your new chairman, this will be one of my first initiatives.”

Mr. Phillips concluded with…

“The (GOP) brand needs to reflect more than a minor makeover; it needs to undertake a major rebranding effort. This includes: determining, in concise, marketable terms, what the party stands for; its logo and tagline; and its policies and marketing campaigns. For all of these areas, I will seek recommendations from marketing professionals and brand strategists.”

This is so wrong on so many levels, it’s hard to know where to start.

First, the Republican Party already has “strong, memorable, and effective brand.”

The GOP sells itself as the party of smaller government, lower taxes, strong national defense, free markets, rule of law and individual liberty.  It’s a brand identity in direct contrast to that of the Democrat Party.

Secondly, I think Mr. Phillips is confusing branding with selling.

The brand is fine. That’s why Republicans control Congress and many state legislatures all over the country, as well as a majority of governors’ offices.

No, the problem – especially in Nevada – is that we have some rogue, dishonest, bait-and-switch, snake-oil salesmen out there misrepresenting the brand!

Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform explained this problem in a speech at CPAC in 2013, as reported by…

“(Norquist) employed the Coca-Cola metaphor to emphasize what he sees as the strength of the GOP brand. With his (taxpayer protection) pledge, Norquist said, ‘We branded the modern Republican Party as the party that would not raise your taxes,’ just as Coca-Cola has established their brand.

“He then laid out a scenario in which ‘you get two-thirds of the way through your bottle of Coke and there’s a rat head in what’s left of your Coke bottle.’  If this happens, Norquist explained, you’re definitely not going to finish the bottle, you may never buy Coca-Cola again, and the company brand is ‘damaged.’

“’Republican elected officials who vote for tax increases are ratheads in a Coke bottle,’ Norquist told the audience. ‘They damage the brand for everybody else.’”

Contrary to Mr. Phillips’ assertion otherwise, the problem for the GOP in Nevada isn’t the Nevada Republican Party; it’s the number of tax-hiking Republican “ratheads” who are damaging the brand for everyone else.

You can consult with all the Madison Avenue “marketing professionals and brand strategists” you want, but they ain’t gonna fix a “rathead” problem.

The Nevada “ratheads” include, but are not limited to…

Gov. Brian “America’s Worst Governor” Sandoval, Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison, Senate Majority Leader Tax Hike Mike Roberson, seven other GOP state senators, Assembly Speaker-of-the-Weak John Hambrick, Assembly Majority Leader Paul Anderson, Assembly Taxation Committee Chairman Derek Armstrong-Anderson and ten other GOP state assembly critters – including former Assembly Minority Leader Pat “The Appeaser” Hickey and his trusty sidekick, Randy “Kirner Tax” Kirner.

The Nevada Republican Party and its Central Committee – as well as various local GOP party organizations and clubs, much to the chagrin of the above-named “ratheads” – have been, in Mr. Phillips’ words, “implicit and explicit – again and again” that the GOP is the party “that would not raise your taxes.”

You could look it up.  It’s right there in the party platform – which I’m willing to bet none of the “ratheads” has ever read.

That said, the “ratheads” nevertheless ran for election on the party’s limited government conservative brand, only to destroy it by voting in the 2015 legislative session for the largest tax hike in Nevada history.

No, the problem isn’t the party’s brand.

The problem is the “ratheads.”

And if Mr. Phillips truly wants to protect the party brand, he should consider running against one of the “ratheads” instead of the party chairman.


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