Bobby Jindal’s controversial new proposal for conservatives: Be more popular

A copy of a forthcoming speech from the Louisiana governor reveals just how bankrupt of new ideas the GOP really is

Topics: Bobby Jindal, Editor's Picks,

Bobby Jindal's controversial new proposal for conservatives: Be more popularGov. Bobby Jindal (Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster)

Washington Post ace reporter Chris Cillizza has a scoop: Bobby Jindal is going to deliver a speech! Jindal, the governor of Louisiana and former exorcist, is going to give a speech to the Republican National Committee that will, in the words of the person who wrote Cillizza’s headline, “speak truth to GOP power.” Cillizza and his co-author Aaron Blake scored an advance copy of the speech — presumably smuggled out of Jindal’s office in the dead of night by a terrified whistle-blower and delivered to the reporters at a secretive “dead drop” in a suburban parking garage — and it’s a real doozy. Some real revolutionary truth-speaking from Jindal.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal will deliver a forceful denunciation of his party’s Washington-centric focus in a speech to the Republican National Committee on Thursday evening, arguing that the GOP is fighting the wrong fight as it seeks to rebuild from losses at the ballot box last November.

“A debate about which party can better manage the federal government is a very small and short-sighted debate,” Jindal will tell the RNC members gathered in Charlotte, N.C. for the organization’s winter meeting, according to a copy of the speech provided to The Fix. “If our vision is not bigger than that, we do not deserve to win.”

Boy, that’s some heady stuff. “We should say we don’t like Washington, D.C.” “We should stop arguing that we will more effectively manage and oversee the federal government.” I wonder how loudly everyone at the RNC will boo Jindal for stating these unpopular and controversial opinions? Probably really loudly.

There’s more!

In the speech, Jindal will repeatedly caution that Republicans in Washington have fallen into the “sideshow trap” of debating with Democrats over the proper size of the federal government.

“By obsessing with zeroes on the budget spreadsheet, we send a not-so-subtle signal that the focus of our country is on the phony economy of Washington, instead of the real economy out here in Charlotte, and Shreveport (La.), and Cheyenne (Wyo.),” Jindal is set to say at one point in the speech. At another, he will argue that “Washington has spent a generation trying to bribe our citizens and extort our states,” adding: “As Republicans, it’s time to quit arguing around the edges of that corrupt system.”

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Again, it is literally impossible to overstate how controversial and fresh these ideas are. Republicans must stop “obsessing” over … the federal government’s budget, which is a thing that doesn’t matter and no one cares about. Instead, Republicans should talk about mid-size cities in conservative states, and the businesses in them. “Less budget, more Wyoming.” Crazy to hear a Republican say this stuff.

And Jindal will also try to demonstrate the sort of big-picture vision — you know, “that vision thing” — that is in demand in a party searching for itself in the electoral wilderness. “We must shift the eye line and the ambition of our conservative movement away from managing government and toward the mission of growth,” Jindal will say.

With this speech, Jindal makes a strong case to be the leading voice — or at least one voice in a relatively small chorus — committed to leading the Republican party out of its electoral wilderness.

Pretty weird that almost no other Republicans are expressing any desire to “win elections” in the future but there you have it. Bobby Jindal says “let’s be more popular,” which, again, is the sort of thing you do not hear many Republicans saying in public.

Bobby Jindal has recently made news by constantly announcing that he has bold new ideas for the future of conservatism and also by planning to replace Louisiana’s corporate and income taxes with regressive sales taxes.

Alex Pareene
Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at apareene@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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