Vinny Minchillo, a Republican campaign strategist based in Texas, isn’t the most famous GOP consultant in the country, but he did claim to have “reinvented political advertising” while working for Mitt Romney’s failed presidential campaign in 2012.
But that was two years ago. In 2014, as Danny Vinik discovered, Minchillo is spearheading an entirely different kind of campaign. It’s called “Republicans Are People, Too.”
RepublicansArePeopleToo.com … aims to combat the partisan rancor directed at the GOP. In short: to humanize Republicans demonized by the left as women-hating, nature-destroying Fox News addicts. A 97-second video on the site informs viewers that Republicans do things that you may not associate with conservatives. […]Minchillo is now an executive at Glass House Strategy, a public affairs company that specializes in political campaigns – although, despite the upcoming midterms, Minchillo is not advising any campaigns at the moment. That, he says, makes it the perfect time to start a grassroots campaign to change the Republican Party’s image.
The whole video is posted below, and you’ll just have to see it to believe it. The message did not go so far as to say, “Republicans are capable of functioning as well-adjusted human beings,” but that seemed to be the general direction of the message.
Indeed, for those who can’t watch clips online, here’s the entire on-screen text: “Did you know? Republicans drive Priuses. Republicans recycle. Republicans listen to Spotify. Republicans put together Ikea furniture. Republicans are white. Republicans are black. Republicans are Hispanic. Republicans are Asian. Republicans read the New York Times in public. Republicans use Macs. Republicans are grandmas, daughters, Moms. Republicans are left handed. Republicans are doctors, welders, teachers. Republicans donate to charity. Republicans enjoy gourmet cooking. Republicans shop at Trader Joe’s. Republicans like dogs and cats, probably dogs a little more than cats. Republicans have tattoos and beards. Republicans have feelings. Republicans are people who care. Republicans are people, too.”
It’s almost as if we’re seeing a promotional video put together by a group most Americans find repulsive, so its members put something together for YouTube in the hopes of appearing normal.
Indeed, let’s make this plain: if you’re a member of a political party, and you find it necessary to remind the public that your party is capable of human emotion and routine human behavior, then your party may have a very serious problem.
It’s not that Minchillo’s ad is wrong, of course. Obviously, Republicans are human beings living normal American lives. The problem is the overly defensive nature of the argument – if you have to remind the public that Republicans “are people” and “have emotions,” then you’re implicitly suggesting that Republicans’ basic humanity is, at least for some, in doubt.
Jon Chait joked, “It’s just always suspicious when somebody strenuously denies an accusation that has not been made.”
This video no doubt intended to convey the opposite message, but “Republicans Are People, Too” underscores a branding issue for which there is no easy solution.