Liberal Republicans and New Coke
If the headline has you confused, just bear with me for a bit.
A lot of us probably remember the “New Coke” debacle of the 1980s, and its aftermath. Somewhat surprisingly (or maybe not), there are a number of parallels with the current and recent past of the GOP moving to the left. Here’s just a few of the lesser parallels before I get to the big one:
- Both were attempts to be more like the competition instead of working to make a clear separation from the primary competitor: New Coke was much sweeter, like Pepsi; liberal Republicans are much closer in political ideology to Democrats.
- Both were imposed largely (though not completely) from “on high.” New Coke was pushed hard by the CEO, and many of the more liberal Republican candidates are being nominated and supported by those claiming to lead the party, whether it be at the county, state, or national level.
- Both are facing strong grassroots resistance. New Coke led to the formation of “Old Coke Drinkers of America,” and many liberal Republicans are facing lots of criticism from the conservative base of the party.
However, the most important parallel is one that hasn’t quite been fully realized yet. It’s simple, yet profound.
If we stop supporting them, they will go away.
New Coke faced boycotts both from consumers and bottlers, and the company quickly reversed course and decided to introduce “Coke Classic.” We need to do the same thing with liberal candidates who tack an R after their name but who hold opinions more in line with the Democrats.
So, if we want to send a clear signal to the Republican Party, we will not just vote for every candidate with an R after their name, we will look closely at their values and see if they match the conservative principles Ronald Reagan espoused; if need be, we will simply not vote in a race where we are given a choice between (if I may borrow a phrase Mark Steyn penned today) “Dem and Demmer.” We will not donate to the national, state, or county parties insomuch as they promote and support these liberal candidates, but will instead donate directly to those candidates that most closely match the Republican ideal we seek to promote.
If we do that long enough and consistently enough, the Republican Party will, as Coca-Cola Inc. did, figure out that you can’t succeed by upsetting a large portion of your base.