When Romney after the election blamed his loss on the “gifts” that Obama had offered young people, African Americans and Hispanics, Jindal blasted the 2012 standard-bearer as “absolutely wrong. . . . We need to continue to show how our policies help every voter out there achieve the American dream, which is to be in the middle class.”
On Tuesday, Jindal gave an address at the Brookings Institution that blasted teachers unions — a familiar GOP target — but also noted: “It is completely dishonest to pretend today that America provides equal opportunity in education. We do not. And if you say that we do, you are lying.”
On Friday, an op-ed by Jindal appeared in the Wall Street Journal advocating selling birth control pills over the counter, as a means of taking “contraception out of the political arena.”
If there is a model for what confronts Republicans today, it may well be the self-doubt and battles of the Democrats in the late 1980s after three presidential defeats in a row.
In 1989, William Galston and Elaine Kamarck of the centrist Progressive Policy Institute wrote a controversial paper diagnosing the Democrats’ ills. Much of what they wrote could apply to what Republicans are going through today: The Democrats were captive of “liberal fundamentalism.” They blamed their candidates for lacking charisma. They believed that their answer was matching the GOP’s technological edge (in those days, direct mail) and its get-out-the-vote operation. They were losing the young. Their values were not in line with the country’s.
“Once Bill Clinton ran in 1992, we actually had a political center,” recalled Kamarck, who is a lecturer at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. “But creating a new Democratic brand was a process that took several years, and also some luck.”
In Clinton’s case, that luck included the decision of New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, a liberal icon, not to run for the 1992 Democratic nomination, and businessman Ross Perot’s third-party candidacy splitting the vote in November.
In Greencastle, local party Chairman Dwight Weidman expressed confidence that his party will also find its way back. But first, Weidman said, “there’s going to be a really tough discussion in the Republican Party.”
Jon Cohen contributed to this report.