Alcohol Reform and Obstacles to Republicans Becoming the ‘Cool’ Party

Jamelle Bouie is making good points about why a “cool” public image won’t help national Republicans rebuild their tattered brand with young voters. They actually need to take the “cool” positions on the issues. Bouie names the Iraq War opposition as one such position.

Aside from maybe copyright and intellectual property issues, it’s hard to think of any national level positions that Republicans could use to split young people from the Democratic Party. At the state and local level, I actually think there are quite a few opportunities.

For instance, today we’re having a debate about whether/how to bust up the state monopoly on alcohol sales. This is an issue where the free market position is not only dead right, but hugely popular, and supported by about half of Democratic voters. Everybody thinks PA’s liquor laws are stupid, and the cynicism is particularly concentrated among young people. If Republicans could hold all their members together, this would be an excellent opportunity to show young voters how free markets and business competition can make most people’s lives better in a concrete way.

They’re risking entrenching the cynicism with an overly protectionist bill, and unfortunately it seems like many urban and suburban Republicans aren’t making the connection that this move is a coalition-building opportunity, but the point is that there are plenty of state and local issues where the Republican position gives people nice things, and the Democratic position makes excuses for why people can’t have nice things, inverting the national dynamic.

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