The Republican National Party is having what some may call an identity crisis. Since the 2008 Presidential election campaigns, RNC strategists have been concerned with the direction, message, image, and marketing of their positions. CNN reported on efforts at ‘re-branding’ the Republican image (see article below) through conferences and meetings among current and former Republican leaders. Though is by no means a right-of-center-only phenomena, these attempts at marketing a political position are extremely worrying and mark the widening distance between American democracy and democratic ideals.
This particular RNC example demonstrates the enduring insight of Jurgen Habermas’ concerns of public opinion, mass marketing, and the instrumentalization of the public sphere for the purposes of politics. By attempting to re-group based on an image opposing that of the current Democratic administration, politics and the political process is reduced to marketing strategies and the manipulation of public opinion for the benefit of a few political elites.
Habermas reflects his Frankfurt School roots in his concern about the manipulation and subsequent use of politics and image as propaganda. What the RNC attempts at re-branding demonstrate is nothing other than the perversion of the democratic process, of the democratic ideals, hopes, and dreams of individuals turned into marketing strategies.