Monday, June 16, 2008


It's a bad time to be a Republican.

The wars go badly. The economy is in dire straits. Scandals rage through the administration. It looks like we're going to lose another American city to high water and burst levies. And people are blaming the current resident of the White House and the party that continues to obstruct any attempt to fix stuff.

So the answer for an aspiring candidate is easy - stop being a Republican.

I don't mean become a Democrat or even an independent. I mean change the party name. Bring back the GOP.

GOP, or Grand Old Party, apparently started back in 1875 or so, referring to the Southern Democrats as the Gallant Old Party, but was applied to the Republicans in 1888 when they finally got the White House back after the debacle of the Grant Administration (The Chicago Tribune was cited as the first use). Since then it has been used interchangeably with Republican, and has been a boon to political cartoonists (and bloggers) who don't like longer words. The phrase was pretty well established for the Eisenhower Administration, but dropped off significantly with the Nixon admin and hasn't been seen since. Reagan and the two Bushes were Republicans, and GOP seemed to go away, a relic of the past.

Until now. I've been going through the filing documents for the upcoming primary. Now, I've had issues with the "top two" primary we're doing, but that's another rant for another day. What is interesting is that as a result, we don't do "official" party affiliation, but rather a self-declared "preference" for party. So we have Democratic and Republican candidates, but also the occasional "True Democrat" and "Tax Cut Republican", using even the ballot as space to push their message (Shades of Goodspaceguy Nelson, a perennial candidate who believes in ... space).

And there is a surprising number of candidates who are running as "GOP Party" (Grand Old Party Party?). Is this really a bit of shell game? Despite mention elsewhere, I had pretty much just written it off to shorthand for people who didn't like to type (like, um, me). But even a few years ago, some newspapers were abandoning the term because of potential reader confusion.

But still, I didn't think it was deliberate, or at least until I saw the first of the lawn signs for the primary on my way into Bellevue. Candidate's Name in big letters, beneath a fighter jet, which both shouts "Strong Defense" and "Boeing" (though I don't know if State Senators get to scramble fighter jets). And there in the corner, in tiny squint-o-type, is the party affiliation.


Maybe its a winning strategy. If the "brand" is having a hard time, go to a new brand.

More later,