The GOP’s Sexiness Gap

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Why the GOP Needs New Faces and Fresh Blood…Now!

By Dale Glading | The Save Jersey Blog

ElephantsHere is the cold-hard truth. Were he alive today and running for president in 2016, Abraham Lincoln would never capture his party’s nomination nor would he stand a chance of winning the general election in November.

Why not? Are his 19th century political positions that out-of-step with present day America?

Hardly. Lincoln’s platform of equality for all people, and the creation of job and housing opportunities for all Americans (see the Homestead Act of 1862) would be as popular today as they were in 1860.

So what’s the problem? Why wouldn’t voters today embrace Lincoln and send him to the White House riding the crest of an electoral landslide?

Simply put, Lincoln lacks the right look. In fact, I’ll go a step further. In today’s telegenic age, Honest Abe simply isn’t sexy enough…

Paul Ryan

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin)

Like it or not, fair or unfair, that’s the reality of 21st century politics in America.

Columnist Matt Lewis puts it this way:

“Being elected president in the modern era requires you to be a sort of rock star. A lot of conservatives don’t like this — they don’t like the ‘cult of personality.’ But it’s just a fact of life.”

Lewis claims that “the trend probably started with John F. Kennedy.” With a few exceptions like Johnson, Nixon and Ford, every president since 1960 had a certain charisma to him. Certainly presidents Reagan, Clinton and Obama fit that mold.

So, what is the party of Lincoln to do? Bemoan the fact that their most famous standard bearer is now considered passé? Or try to find a candidate who exemplifies the best of Lincoln’s qualities, but who is equally adept at trading quips and swaying voters on Jay Leno and David Letterman?

Republican Governors Meeting at the Aspen Institute in 2012

Republican Governors Meeting at the Aspen Institute in 2012

Lewis goes on to say that,

this is not to give the impression that leadership is superficial. Winston Churchill was an inspiring and charismatic prime minister — and he didn’t exactly have Hollywood looks. Leadership is about vision and character. It’s also about persuasion and communication. The best leaders challenge us to do big things.”

However, the fact remains that in order for a candidate to be taken seriously these days, he can’t be as dour as Calvin Coolidge or look as disheveled as Zachary Taylor.

Voters depend heavily on their first impressions of a candidate. Barack Obama – cool and sophisticated. Mitt Romney – stiff and aristocratic.

Tragically, a candidate’s positions on national defense, immigration reform, monetary policy and energy independence don’t matter as much these days as whether he looks the part and can speak in convincing sound bites.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)

United States Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida)

And so, my advice to the Republican Party is to stop playing the game according to yesterday’s rules. Say good-bye to Mitch McConnell and say hello to Ted Cruz. Take the spotlight off of John Boehner and place it squarely on Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

Become the party of Mike Pence, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Susana Martinez and Bobby Jindal.

If it does, I predict that the GOP might just win a national election or two.

But if the Republicans chose “business as usual”, they had better get ready to occupy the dustbin of history – right next to the Old Rail Splitter himself.