The National Republican Senatorial Committee released an interesting video yesterday, apparently hoping to combat public impressions that theirs is the “party of no.” The not-so-subtle theme? The word “yes,” which is used over and over again.
For those who can’t watch clips online, after featuring soundbites from a variety of GOP senators, including Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a narrator tells viewers:
“It might not always seem like it, but we say yes a lot. We say yes on jobs for you. On opportunity. We say yes on the future. It’s what we do – to make things better. By saying yes. A simple word, a powerful concept.”
The video struck me as noteworthy for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it tells us quite a bit about what focus groups are telling party leaders. This happens all the time – when you see a party or a candidate pushing back against a public perception, it’s because they fear that perception is taking root. If Americans didn’t see Republicans as the “party of no,” the National Republican Senatorial Committee wouldn’t have any reason to release a video telling voters they really do say yes, even if “it might not always seem like it.”
For another, the online ad is almost laughably vague for a good reason. Republicans say “yes” all the time? That’s great news, but what exactly is the party saying “yes” to? Well, there’s “opportunity” and “the future.”
The trouble is, if we were to draw up a list of issues the American mainstream would like to see politicians act on, I have a strong hunch vague platitudes about “opportunity” and “the future” wouldn’t make the cut.
And when we get past the vague platitudes, it’s where Republicans run into trouble.
GOP officials “say yes a lot,” unless the issue is preventing gun violence, health care, economic growth, climate change, education, civil rights, reproductive rights, infrastructure investments, Wall Street safeguards, diplomacy, and allowing the president to choose members of his own administrative team. Much of the party is also reluctant to “say yes” to immigration reform and judicial nominees, too.
Of course, now that Republicans have effectively admitted they’re feeling vulnerable on this issue, don’t be too surprised if Democrats start pushing the “party of no” criticism even more aggressively.