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After its catastrophic performance in the midterm elections, the Republican Party is currently in a period of reflection, in which it is deciding how it should proceed going forward. Or is it?
At this point, it seems the GOP will remain set on business as usual, as it prepares for the next election season. Many on the right, including myself, have questioned whether the party’s leadership actually wants to win–or if it is content with continuing to play the role of the “Party of No.” So far, most indications suggest this is the case.
One of those sounding the clarion call for change is attorney Harmeet Dhillon, who is challenging Ronna McDaniel for Republican National Committee (RNC) chair. During an interview with Fox News, she cautioned that the GOP needs to “change and adapt or die,” and criticized the party’s leadership for failing to change in a way that allows it to appeal to more Americans. She noted that McDaniel has overseen a six-year losing streak for the party, and that Republicans must change course.
“We need a change at the RNC. I’m hearing that from voters. I’m hearing that from donors. I’m hearing that from influencers online and figures in the movement,” she argued.
McDaniel took over the position in 2017 with the endorsement of former President Donald Trump. In 2018, the GOP lost the House, then the presidency in 2020. In 2022, the party narrowly took back the House of Representatives–despite being expected to win big in both chambers of Congress. Democrats expanded their hold over the Senate, after Sen. Raphael Warnock defeated Herschel Walker in Georgia’s runoff election.
“The party has not been a leader on hustling ballots into the boxes. We’re still talking about emotionally appealing to voters, buying very expensive ads hoping that people will turn out on Election Day,” Dhillon said. “Guess what, Democrats don’t do that. They get out there where ballot harvesting and early voting are legal, which is in most states now. They get out there and they hustle those ballots.”
The attorney pointed to one of the party’s longstanding flaws: Its failure to articulate a winning message to present to the American people.
“I don’t think we have been great at articulating our vision of why people should vote for us. I think we’ve been allowing the Democrats to set the agenda and allowing them to really dictate what our party stands for and what we’re doing,” she noted.
Indeed, conservatives have often failed to bring new ideas to the table, choosing instead to rely almost exclusively on criticizing Democrats for their flawed solutions.
Dhillon also brought up excessive spending at the RNC, noting that “there’s a lot of bad consulting contracts, vendor contracts that are not competitively bid” and lamented that there is “a real sense of wanting to keep everything exactly the same” in the organization.
Indeed, RedState Managing Editor Jennifer Van Laar published a piece delving into the irresponsible spending practices of the RNC under McDaniel’s leadership, an issue that has enraged donors, both large and small.
McDaniel and the RNC responded to the report as might be expected – with deflection and personal attacks. Instead of addressing the issue, a spokesperson chose to highlight the amount of money that has been raised under McDaniel’s leadership. The chair sent an email to committee members, ostensibly to “debunk the lies about roughly 0.8% of the RNC’s total spending.”
Not surprisingly, the email did not address the exorbitant expenditures found in the report. As Van Laar noted:
That the RNC under Ronna McDaniel has brought in a lot of money isn’t in dispute. The point of the analysis, coming after losses in critical races, was the expenditures, both the types and the amounts. None of those expenses were addressed in their emails. They simply, and sadly, chose to use the same exact strategy former Rep. Katie Hill used against me to attempt to avoid accountability for her actions.
Reckless spending notwithstanding, McDaniel is still favored to win re-election and will likely continue leading the RNC, showing once again that the GOP only pretends to believe in the idea of a meritocracy. It is this hypocrisy that has soured many – including myself – on lending support to the party. Why should people continue trying to persuade the party to change, when it clearly does not want to?
Even if, by some miracle, Dhillon won the election, the establishment forces in the party would impede her progress at every turn. They would fight every effort to reform the GOP and transform it into something the American people would want to consider. These people want business as usual, as long as it keeps them in positions of power – and they clearly don’t have to lead the party to victory to do this. So, why would they care?
Perhaps there is a better way to get the leadership Americans need than to continue propping up an establishment that is not serious about affecting positive change in the country.