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Republicans Still Aren’t Ready To Be The ‘iPhone Party’

Memo Pad Politics

Republicans Still Aren’t Ready To Be The ‘iPhone Party’


Could Republicans make the government run more like the app store on your smartphone?

That’s the suggestion that Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) offered during Saturday’s weekly Republican address.

“Just imagine if instead of mandating things for you to do, your government became a platform, just like your iPhone, enabling you to create a happier, safer, more prosperous life,” Alexander said.

“Republicans want to enable and empower you,” he later added. “We want to be the iPhone party. We believe government ought to be a platform that gives you opportunity and freedom to create a happier, more prosperous, and safer life.”

The Tennessee Republican’s desire to associate his party with Apple’s successful, pioneering brand is straightforward enough. But unfortunately for Alexander, the rest of his speech unintentionally highlighted the GOP’s continued inability to innovate.

From his opening lines — in which Alexander glowingly cites former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s book, Breakout — it’s apparent that the veteran politician isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel. Among other policies, Alexander suggests reviving House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) 2012 JOBS Act, repealing the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law, expanding school vouchers, and eliminating the minimum wage (“Democrats want to mandate fixed wages and more lawsuits while Republicans want to allow more flexibility for working parents, enabling them to attend soccer games and piano recitals,” the senator insists).

Unsurprisingly, the senator saved his biggest shots for the Affordable Care Act and the overreaching nanny government.

“Health care provides the most glaring difference between Republican enablers and Democrat mandators. Too often, Obamacare cancels the policy you want to keep and tells you what policy to buy, even if it costs more and restricts your choices of doctors and hospitals,” Alexander said. “Republicans believe that freedom and more choices will empower you to find a policy that fits your needs and your budget.”

He later urged voters to “just imagine the Internal Revenue code, the Food and Drug Administration, or the Labor Department enabling you rather than ordering you around.”

In short: If you loved the Romney/Ryan platform, and wish the FDA weren’t so pushy about safeguarding your food, then the Republican Party is for you!

Perhaps a 73-year-old, twice-failed presidential candidate is not the best messenger for the GOP’s new “Think Different” message.

In fairness to Alexander, his clunky tech metaphor is far from the worst effort to rebrand the GOP (in fact, it’s not even the worst this week — that honor goes to Nevada state assemblyman Ira Hansen, who insisted that the way to win young voters is to embrace the party’s “Pat Robertson wing”). But it seems unlikely to help Republicans reach the forward-thinking voters whom they are presumably targeting with this Apple-themed repositioning.

If Republicans actually want to expand their tent and attract new voters, they already have several decent roadmaps on how to do so. Reports such as the RNC’s “Growth and Opportunity Project” and the College National Republican Commitee’s “Grand Old Party for A Brand-New Generation,” while flawed, at least attempt to confront the GOP’s serious demographic challenges. But as they have proven over and over again, Republicans are either unwilling or unable to reconsider their platform, or even moderate their often-extreme rhetoric.

When Apple debuted the latest edition of the iPhone, it unveiled a new slogan to go along with it: “Progress is a beautiful thing.” Republicans like Senator Alexander would be wise to heed Apple’s advice before trying to co-opt its identity.

Photo: Mark Mathosian via Flickr

Henry Decker

Henry Decker was formerly the Managing Editor of The National Memo. He is currently an Online Associate at MRCampaigns.

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  1. disqus_ivSI3ByGmh April 22, 2014

    Let me breakdown the elements of all Republican Speeches over the past 20 years:
    Clinon Bad, Reagan Good
    Reagan Good
    Bush Good, Reagan Good
    Obama Evil, Bush Good
    Obama Evil, Reagan Good
    Obama and Clinton = Apocalypse; Reagan = Salvation.

    There. Does that pretty much cover it?

    1. TZToronto April 22, 2014


    2. Jambi April 22, 2014

      Don’t forget: “Not gonna do it…wouldn’t be prudent at this juncture”…

      G HW Bush

      1. Allan Richardson April 22, 2014

        Also “I don’t eat broccoli. I’m the President, and I don’t have to.” Metaphorically, Republicans don’t want America to “eat the vegetables” that could make us healthy as a society (and for that matter, literally healthy, e.g. ACA), because their top money-lenders (not “donors” because they expect a return on their investment) don’t like vegetables.

  2. sigrid28 April 22, 2014

    How fast they forget! It was an iPhone that captured Romney’s 47% remark that virtually–in every sense of the word–spelled disaster for his campaign.

  3. dmhlt_66 April 22, 2014

    They already are the iPhoneY Party.
    But I’ll be happy when they become the Carrier Pigeon Party … they’re EXTINCT!

    1. Vicious Cur April 22, 2014

      Sorry, but stupidity seems to be eternal.

  4. TZToronto April 22, 2014

    “‘ . . . Republicans want to allow more flexibility for working parents, enabling
    them to attend soccer games and piano recitals,’ the senator insists.” Ummmm . . . with nothing to protect workers from their employers’ unreasonable demands, I doubt that many employers would let their employees attend their kids’ soccer games and piano recitals. It would be more like, “Go ahead. Watch your kid play soccer, but don’t expect your job to be here when you get back.” Rather, expect many hours of unpaid overtime. Republicans want small government (read as NO government) so that laissez-faire capitalism can reach its zenith (or nadir, depending on your point of view). With no government, America would become the Wild West with the biggest gun making the rules. . . . They think using a trendy word like iPhone will suddenly make young people–most with more sense than their white, old-fogey grandparents–go to the polls and vote for regressive policies. . . I’m surprised they even know what an iPhone is.

    1. jointerjohn April 22, 2014

      Anytime a republican advocates for employee “flexibility” it is simply code speak for doing away with full-time employment that evokes worker’s compensation, overtime pay, and unemployment insurance. Nothing that ever leaves their lips is what it appears to be on the surface. NOTHING.

    2. ralphkr April 22, 2014

      I beg to differ, TZT, the Republicans do not want NO government. What they want is no government spending EXCEPT for massive defense contracts and huge government subsidies for big business and, of course, continuing our current cutting taxes for the wealthy.

      1. Independent1 April 22, 2014

        The only ‘smaller government’ the GOP wants is related to getting rid of the governmental departments that put some guidance on just how wild companies can get in their operations while trying to make a profit in whatever nefarious manner they want.

        Given that Reagan and Bush 2 increased the size of the Federal Government by just over 300,000 workers; while Carter and Clinton reduced it by over 380,000; and all governments in the U.S. combined (Fed, State & City) increased by over 950,000 during Bush 2’s 8 yeas in office; it’s pretty clear that as usual, the GOP is lying when they say they want ‘smaller government’.

        1. ralphkr April 22, 2014

          There you go again, Independent, confusing the issue with facts.

  5. Vicious Cur April 22, 2014

    Republicans are ready for the lot of things … women, minorities, education, public infrastructure, to name a few.

    1. Independent1 April 22, 2014

      Ready to do what? Destroy all of them???

  6. roguerunners April 22, 2014

    In short: If you loved the Romney/Ryan platform, you should love “Obamacare”. 😉

  7. Kurt CPI April 22, 2014

    It does my heart good when a great article like this unravels the spin and calls a policy for what it is.

  8. Lovefacts April 22, 2014

    I can’t wait for Apple to come down on Alexander’s campaign for using their logo and phone in his ad. They’re death on anyone using their product logo without permission, and they don’t give it for political ads. It isn’t good business, especially considering their hold on the youth market and which party that age group supports–and it ain’t the Republicans.

  9. elw April 22, 2014

    Is he kidding, doesn’t he even remember all the troubled new products Apple has released over the years, not even to mention how much they cost. Just goes to show how little the GOP actually understands. I would bet if someone asked him for details he would know none. It is all smoke and mirrors for the GOP.

    1. Allan Richardson April 22, 2014

      There’s part of the difference between Apple (and other businesses that succeed) and the Republicans of today. Apple puts out a product, gets it wrong, sees their mistakes, and tries to improve the next product. Microsoft, Google, HP, Linksys, etc. the same. But the Republicans put out a product (policy), it doesn’t work, and then they double down (funny how a gambling term for a DUMB move in Blackjack has gotten into our political vocabulary) and put out the SAME product again, but more concentrated. They REFUSE to make changes in response to failures.

      1. elw April 22, 2014

        Perfect simple description of the Republican way.

      2. ThomasBonsell April 22, 2014

        But Republicans do change: they change the words of their propaganda. Policies stay the same; advertising about those policy constantly changes.

        They enact law making it profitable to close businesses in the US and send the jobs to China or elsewhere, then tell the Americans now unemployed that the GOP has provided them with “economic freedom” to go out in the world and create a new Microsoft, or Apple, or Nike or whatever.

        That doesn’t seem to work so well with a man or woman in their 40s or 50s who have devoted their working lives to the closed business when they have a family, mortgage or other daily expenses to meet. Microsoft, Apple, Nike, and other successful ventures weren’t started by middled-aged people who were thrown out of work; they were started by “kids” who had wealthy parents (Microsoft) or worked in garages at home (Apple) while being supported by parents or were recent graduates of business graduate school (Nike).

  10. ExRadioGuy15 April 22, 2014

    The GOP are barely the Telephone Party…LOL… in fact, they’re the “Great Gatsby Party” in a “Modern Family” world…
    What’s weirdly ironic about this is that, in the early days of telephone service, only the wealthy could afford it, so most people who had telephone service were Republicans. That’s why a lot of early telephone polling about politics heavily favored Republicans.
    Now that technology has advanced, the GOP have failed to keep up and it’s hurt them, badly. Perhaps that’s the best piece of proof that the GOP are the party of old people, as many old people are technology-averse.
    Despite all that, the reason the GOP continue to survive is that they still have control , whether direct or indirect, of the media that older people use: radio and network TV. As soon as network news organizations (ABC, CBS and NBC) stop employing the ridiculous “false equivalency” or “tell both sides” arguments and start telling the truth again, the GOP will be able to continue to fool older people into voting Republican.

    1. Allan Richardson April 22, 2014

      Polling services that do not include cell phone users, only land lines, also heavily favor Republicans.

      I agree about the “false equivalency.” It’s almost like a fire prevention piece on a TV network with the line “Firefighters say the way to put a fire out is to deprive it of oxygen. Or, according to Rev. Baroque, add lots of phlogiston to the air around it.”

  11. Pamby50 April 22, 2014

    The sad thing is that there is no democrat in the state of TN who will oust him. He even has a tea party challenger which he will defeat.

  12. Nick Vanocur April 23, 2014

    “Siri, find tax breaks.”

  13. kingartie1 April 25, 2014

    What an infuriating load of babble crap:

    Health care provides the most glaring difference between Republican enablers and Democrat mandators. Too often, Obamacare cancels the policy you want to keep and tells you what policy to buy, even if it costs more and restricts your choices of doctors and hospitals,” Alexander said. “Republicans believe that freedom and more choices will empower you to find a policy that fits your needs and your budget.”

    Yes, he’s right, it is one of the most glaring differences between Republican enablers and Democrat mandators. First and foremost, the Democrat “mandators” HAD and SPECIFIED and OFFERED a PLAN. The Republican plan: STATUS QUO, or, LET THE UNINSURED DIE IN THE SUBSIDIZED EMERGENCY ROOMS! Yes, the Republican’ts may not have cancelled any plans, but most crucially, they DID NOTHING ABOUT THE INSURANCE COMPANIES CANCELING PLANS. So, for one thing, it’s guilt by disassociation. A step toward proper national health insurance is what happens while the other, ever-complaining party is wearing its ass for a hat.


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