Those once stodgy old Republicans have come up with a futuristic new report that may knock the socks off the Democrats -- and surprise a few of their own loyalists as well.
The document, a product of a series of meetings about the future of the Grand Old Party, envisions a computerage party with "a new language," tighter discipline, fresher ideas, and a healthy respect for good old patronage.
The party would retain its old principles, but wouldn't be afraid of social science research, technological wizardry or a little Moaist rhetoric.
The study recommends, for example, that the Republican National Committee establish a "futurist desk," devote 20 percent of its budget to research and development, and finance a mass-market magazine and television show -- called "Ideas" -- "not to present the party line but rather to 'let a thousand flowers bloom' in the Republican ideas garden."
The study also recommends that the party get into the "service business" and promote "volunteer services that heretofore our loyal opposition has made the province of government."
On the national level, it suggests that the RNC raise money to support art programs, cut by the Reagan budget. On the local level, it suggests that local party leaders organize beautification programs and provide "basic human needs for families who fall into straitened circumstances for one reason or another."
The 40,000 study is the result of seven meetings held last February in Washington and Los Angeles. About 75 local, state and national party leaders, including RNC chairman Richard Richards and former chairman Bill Brock, participated. So far none of the recommendations has been adopted, but several are under consideration.
Much of the study deals with strengthening party structure and discipline. It suggests awards and incentives for superior performance.
The best state party chairman in the country, for example, could "be invited to spend a night at the White House with the Reagans and sleep in the Lincoln bedroom." The top 10 county chairmen "would be brought to Washington with all expenses paid to have lunch in the Cabinet Room with the president and a private dinner with the Republican senator of their choice."
"An Academy Awards type of banquet might also be held, and might even be telecast via some sort of special hookup to Republican headquarters and gatherings all over the country," the study said.
The most controversial part of the study deals with the role of the party, and the two-party system. It wants parties to be dominant in the political process, and strong leaders to dominate the parties. Ti wants the party to discipline wayward officeholders.
In a section called "Lobbying for Our Industry," the report recommends a "political liaison division" to work on ways to change federal, state and local laws to strengthen the two-party system, particularly allowing the party to become "the primary provider of candidate dollars."
Republicans, perhaps surprisingly, want Democrats to stick around. Largely it is a question of self-preservation. "If the Democratic Party were to die, the Republican Party would shortly follow," the report says candidly.
It also provides some fascinating glimpses into how Republicans look at themselves. "The central idea of the Republican Party is small government, providing only services it can perform well," the report states. But it concedes a major image problem as "the party of the rich," "the party of business," and "the party of white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant, upper education, upper income and middle age people."
To correct this, the report recommends fashioning a new definition of "attitudinal" Republicans, based on the idea that "you are a Republican because of what you believe, not because of what you are."
Other recommendations include:
A "new language" to communicate the "New Beginning rhetoric" to voters.
"Truth squads" to "deal with various inaccuracies leaveled against Reagan administration programs."
A long-term television and radio advertising campaign, including public service spots "telling citiziens things like how to fill out tax forms, how to organize a scout troop, what to do when the freezer goes out, etc."
"The definitive work" be a selected scholar on "why parties are good in the Democracy," and efforts to educate the public "that patronage is a legitimate system."