Our urgent manifesto for the New Jersey Republican Party attracted so much traffic here and generated so much positive feedback that we feel compelled to elaborate and expand on it.
So, in addition to the five big observations we'e already made, here are some more. And, since we're doing this as a runup to NJGOP Leadership Summit in Atlantic City this weekend, we've chosen the lucky number of seven this go-round:
1) Shock is currency.
If you think nothing is shocking anymore, you're wrong. There's still such a thing as shock value. But since what's shocking now lasts but a nanosecond (before we're on to the next bit of outrageousness) it's best to use shock value mostly to gain the attention. And gaining voters' attention in the first place is something New Jersey Republicans haven't been very good at. After all, you can't be dull and shocking at the same time. But wouldn't it be refreshing if we interjected an unsettling jolt of shock and surprise into a campaign, if only to completely unhinge our opponents? It's worth a try!
2) TV doesn't matter.
It's the oldest rule in modern New Jersey politics: ya gotta buy tons of TV up and down the state to make any impact at all. And ya gotta spend plenty of money in expensive New York and Philly markets to do it, too. But conventional TV no longer has the impact it once had. And, when you buy it you're still getting thrown in with all those ads for a plethora of out of state candidates. So, it's time to chuck the old media buy plan and come up with a new formula -- one that recognizes the power of cyber reach. More and more, people don't watch what they watch and hear what they hear on the big, clunky TV screen. Instead, they're gathering it on demand on their own personal devices or in other ways. Deconstruct and reconstruct!
3) A plan is not a scam.
If national Republicans had presented an alternative plan that confronted Obamacare head-on, they might ave actually torpedoed Obamacare. But they never offered a clear, simple, cohesive plan of their own. You can't defeat something with nothing. When Christie Whitman sought the Governorship, she offered a clear, direct answer to New Jersey's tax and spend mania -- one that would reduce the state income tax. And, when elected, she carried out her plan. She dared to show her hand -- to give voters a roadmap that they could understand. Today, the New Jersey Republican Party must again offer the voters a clear, simple plan -- this time to reduce onerous property taxes and address the issue of affordability.
4) Slogans stick.
I know someone who came up with a simple, four-word slogan that captivated the nation. People mocked the slogan. They belittled it. And self-appointed sophisticates dismissed it out of hand. But the slogan worked. And, not only did it stick but it triggered the greatest political upset in a generation. What's more, the slogan remains very effective. All of this also proves that you don't need high-priced consultants and Gucci-soled experts to create a winning campaign tagline. You just need a few clear, simple, powerful words that telegraph your goal -- words that make people want to join your team. Is this too much to ask of the Nw Jersey Republican Party? Is it?
5) Be THE special interest.
Aren't you weary of all the special interests that lobby Trenton and effectively manipulate and ultimately control our state government? Hey, taxpayers are on to this. They know what's going on. They understand that while they're working long hours to try to afford to live in this most densely populated state, pressure groups with fancy names are eating their lunch in the state capital. It's time the left-out people (the forgotten people) became the special interest -- the only special interest. The New Jersey Republican Party must turn its back on the takers and champion the makers -- the ordinary, everyday, hard-working taxpayers of the state -- the ones who pay the bills. This must be the singular, relentless focus of the NJGOP.
6) Small is the new big.
In just a day or two after he announced his latest run for the presidency Bernie Sanders raised more than six million dollars in mostly small contributions that flooded in via the internet. Think about the power of this. Think about it! The NJGOP could do this if they're willing to make some of the changes we've recommended. This would not only be hugely participatory and dramatic but it would help to free the state GOP from the clutches of all those Fat Cats -- especially the ones who love to pay to play. Would the state Republican Party be willing to go this route? Would they take this chance? Would they really begin to eschew every suit with loot and the strings that are attached? Go on, ask them. Dare them!
7) Pop culture counts.
The Republican Party is unlikely to win the favor of the media or academia or those who control the popular culture. But that doesn't mean these critical sectors should be ignored. Particularly in the case of the popular culture, the GOP needs to not only pay attention to current personalities, tastes and trends but it needs to speak in the same language, steal some ideas and attract at least a few key pop culture figures to its side. Most of all, it needs to show that it understands the power of pop culture and is willing to use it to attract attention and motivate people to advance its cause.
One final thought: We make these recommendation for one reason and one reason only -- the hour is late and we want to save our state before we're forced to leave like so many others. Most of all, as practical, small-government, common sense, conservative Republicans, we want to win!