January 15, 2013

For pollster Frank Luntz [“Watch your language, Republicans!,” Outlook, Jan. 13], the rebranding of the Republican Party is simply a matter of language: Instead of “smaller” government, Republicans should say “more efficient” government; instead of “self-deportation” by immigrants, they should talk about the “rule of law enforced with compassion.”

Restoring the Republican brand is not about tweaking the language. It goes to the very heart of what Republicans truly believe. Indeed, Republicans have been strikingly honest in expressing the core values of their party, whether it’s tax cuts for the wealthiest 1 percent or neglect of the mooching 47 percent or their hidebound attitudes on rape and abortion or their refusal to ban high-capacity magazines and assault weapons.

In each of these positions, Republicans are on the wrong side of American public opinion. Implicit in Mr. Luntz’s analysis is that, for Republicans to get back in the political game, their policies should align more closely with those that reelected President Obama in 2012.

Richard L. McCloud, Reston

Regarding Frank Luntz’s Outlook commentary:

Who is fooling whom? Voters can tell the difference between euphemism and honest expression, which helps explain the GOP’s low esteem among the electorate. Code words such as “no new taxes,” when the point really is to “starve the beast” (and thereby shrink government), already get in the way of constructive debate.

I hope one of Mr. Luntz’s competitors will suggest persuasively that both parties should fight it out through plain English so that the competition of ideas that is democracy can lead us forward rather than sideways. Better for the GOP to be the plain-spoken loyal opposition until the tide again turns in its favor than for it to waste time reengineering its semantics.

Dale L. Bennett, Washington

After reading your Jan. 13 newspaper cover to cover, I realized that the traditional meaning of the old adage “What’s in a name?” might no longer be true. I offer these three diverse examples:

Your front-page article “ ‘No compromise. No gun legislation.’ ” convinced me that the National Rifle Association needs to change its name to the National Weapons Association to more accurately reflect its present-day mission.

After reading “Why won’t RGIII talk about his team’s name?” [Outlook], I believe that my beloved Washington Redskins should seriously consider a name change to, say, the Washington Natives. Both the Wizards and the Nationals have taken on new, more meaningful names.

Finally, after reading George F. Will’s op-ed column, “Facing what we did,” and having seen the movie “Zero Dark Thirty,” I am convinced that “enhanced interrogation techniques” need to be called by their actual name: “torture.”

Jack Nargundkar, Germantown