Why GOP brand is broken

Story highlights

  • Crystal Wright: GOP establishment has refused to listen to voters
  • At least half its presidential candidates need to do the party a big favor and drop out of race, she says

Crystal Wright is a conservative writer who runs the blog ConservativeBlackChick.com. She also is a principal at the Baker Wright Group, a communications and public relations firm. You can follow her @GOPBlackChick. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)It's time for Republicans to wake up to the reality that our brand is broken and that it has lost its Lincoln luster.

On Friday, The Washington Post reported that some in the GOP establishment are toying with the idea of drafting Mitt Romney, despite the former governor having been roundly beaten in 2012 after securing 60% of the white vote, but losing out among Asian, black and Hispanic voters.
The reason for this alleged panic? "Bewilderment," and a party leadership that is "paralyzed" by the surge of anti-establishment candidates Donald Trump and Ben Carson, the Post reports. But if the party is bewildered, it certainly should not be surprised by these two candidates' rise.
    After all, for too long, the Republican Party has been controlled and operated by privileged white men who are out of touch with the day-to-day lives of regular voters, yet think they know what's best for the party. Indeed, for years, the party has shut out anyone who doesn't look and sound like the clean-cut, inside the beltway, well-educated and privileged party elites. This attitude -- pervasive across all layers of the party, from the halls of Congress to statehouses, conservative think tanks to the Republican National Committee itself, has left minorities, women and nonestablishment conservatives feeling unwelcomed.
    The resulting, and frankly snobbish, "We know better than you" mentality that has resulted is why both Trump and Carson have become the Teflon front-runners, with the former appealing to pent up frustration over immigration and political correctness, and the latter to the evangelical base of the party.
    What's interesting is that the more the establishment tries to denigrate either candidate, the stronger both become. Now, the party establishment is upset because it seems to be losing control of the primary process. But of course this is just the problem -- over the past two presidential elections, the GOP establishment has picked losing candidates, something Republican voters are fully aware of. It's not surprising they don't trust the establishment to pick a potential winner this time around.
    The establishment fears are being compounded by a process that simply has too many candidates, and the truth is that watching all eight duke it out in Tuesday's debate -- the fourth one already -- I was left wondering if any of our candidates could actually beat Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democrat nominee.
    Just like 2012, the GOP has too many people running, with Gov. Scott Walker and Rick Perry so far being the only "contestants" to drop out. And even with a main and JV debate format, the top tier (if you can call it that) remains a crowded house as Trump, Carson, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Jeb Bush and Carly Fiorina all battle it out. And if it takes me a few moments just to remember the full cast of characters, imagine how voters feel?
    By the time, we're done with the scheduled Republican debates and finally pick a nominee, he or she will likely be left in tatters, and voters will be sick and tired of hearing about the party. In contrast, the Democratic National Committee only scheduled six debates, to leave Hillary Clinton's image intact and strong for the general election.
    Another misstep by an out of touch establishment. Watching the GOP debates has been like watching a beauty pageant, knowing your favorite contestant doesn't have the talent to pull off a win. At least half the current candidates need to do the party a big favor and drop out of the race so the GOP's ultimate nominee has a fighting chance at beating Clinton.
    "They're doing high-fives in the Clinton campaign right now when they hear this," Bush opined in Milwaukee during this week's debate. Yes, they are, for more reasons than one. Benghazi headlines have faded away. Clinton emerged unscathed, if not strengthened, from her testimony before the House Select Committee on Benghazi. As the front-runner for the 2016 Democrat presidential nomination, she isn't battling a gang of contenders tearing her down.
    Republicans never cease to amaze or entertain during presidential elections of late. But it seems the established order is not amused.
    "I'm not a happy camper," the Post quotes Peter A. Wish, a top fundraiser for Romney's 2012 campaign, as saying. "I'm very worried that the Republican-base voter is more motivated by anger, distrust of D.C. and politicians and will throw away the opportunity to nominate a candidate with proven experience that can win."
    Austin Barbour, a fundraiser who the Post notes is now advising Bush, reportedly said: "If we're not careful and we nominate Trump, we're looking at a race like Barry Goldwater in 1964 or George McGovern in 1972, getting beat up across the board because of our nominee." Across the board could mean not just the presidency, but the Senate, where the seats up for grabs favor the Democrats in 2016.
    Of course, many establishment voices just aren't happy that they've been shut out of the nomination process. But maybe it will give them a feeling for how many of us have felt for so many years.
    And if the Republican Party really does have a Goldwater moment, then the elite should pat themselves on the back, because it's their arrogance and refusal to listen to the voters -- and to be far more inclusive, and broaden the party's base past angry white men -- that will have made all this possible.