It’s no secret the country’s two major political parties aren’t always media favorites. These days, Republicans seem to be taking more of a beating compared to their Democratic counterparts. So with elections on the horizon, they’ve undertaken a sweeping campaign to change their image in hopes of shedding their punching-bag status.
Vinny Minchillo – the creative force for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign ads in 2012 – currently is the mastermind behind the #IAmRepublican campaign. The purpose: To soften the Republican identity by highlighting the routine, all-American activities party members indulge in every day, just like their Democratic cousins.
The #IAmRepublican video features a number of people doing traditionally “liberal” things in public, such as driving a Prius, using a Mac, or reading The New York Times. The piece closes with the tagline “Republicans are People, Too.”
Despite his best intentions, though, Minchillo’s campaign hasn’t had quite the effect he wanted. What was meant to be a humanizing hashtag has been seized by Twitter users and now centers on how off-the-wall fringe elements can be. In fact, the hashtag has spawned many extreme and sarcastic tweets.
#IamARepublican because I want to put the "white" back in White House. And if you think that makes me a racist, then you're the REAL racist.
— lakerphil (@lakerphil) September 30, 2014
#ImARepublican because I am pro-life except when unarmed black people are shot by police.
— Political Nerd (@Sttbs73) September 26, 2014
As I see it, Minchillo’s biggest mistake in this campaign was not realizing the possible consequences of his actions. With such a controversial topic as the focal point of his campaign, he should have considered all possible reactions, both positive and negative. If he had, he may have realized an opposing backlash was a real possibility. Instead, he worsened the problem he set out to solve.
The campaign did nothing to mitigate the Republicans’ far right persona – at least on Twitter. In that modality, the party still screams far right. And #IAmRepublican is doing nothing to fix that image.