There is no question that the Republican Party has a problem at the Presidential level. Since 1992 they have lost 4 out of the last 6 Presidential elections. Even worse, the GOP has lost the popular vote 4 out of the last 6 elections. The Democrats have a lock on the electoral college with a Blue wall running from Minnesota to New Jersey. Mitt Romney ran the best campaign he could, the problem was the GOP brand.
Contrary to others on the blog, I don’t think the vote for Obama was a vote for free stuff. Was there an element of that? Sure, but it simplifying things. The truth is that many of the people who voted for Obama, voted against the Republican Party. For people under 30, The GOP is viewed as a bunch of angry cranks who hate them. For other groups, the GOP is viewed as a evil party that hates them. This is the perception that those who voted for Obama has. Most will admit he failed, but the Republicans scare them. The issue is how to combat this perception and not pander.
One idea is for the Republican Party to put out a positive face and vision for the future. Unfortunately people like Santorum, Bachmann, Coulter and Huckabee are the face of the GOP. They come across angry and hateful. We need to put out those who espouse Conservativism, but in a positive aspect. We need people who talk about not what we are against, but what we are for. We need to stop dismissing youth culture and people’s personal lifestyle. Instead we need to build infrastructure to spread a positive message and vision for the 21st Century.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) hit the nail on the head on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday: “I don’t think it’s about the Republican Party needing to become more moderate. I really believe it’s the Republican Party becoming more modern. And whether it’s Hispanics, whether it’s women, whether it’s young people, the Republican Party has to make it a priority to take our values, take our vision to every corner of this country, to every demographic group.”
She is 100% correct. Every time I suggest better, smarter GOP outreach to young people, Hispanics, African Americans, and women, many in the GOP old guard wave their pointer fingers at me and insist that I am advocating pandering, that I am allying myself with the Left’s divide and conquer tactics.
Let me correct them in writing, as I have done in speech: Outreach is not pandering. They are completely different things. I am not talking about dividing the country up into special interest groups, pandering to voting blocs with speeches telling them what they want to hear in order to win votes. What I am talking about is taking the conservative message, a message that stands to benefit everyone in society, to places the GOP often ignores–local African-American and Hispanic church groups, feminist centers, and left-leaning college campuses, to name a few.
Will your message face resistance? Yes, and that’s okay. It gives you a chance to correct false, media-driven stereotypes about conservatives and conservatism. Will you convert the majority in one afternoon? Of course not; these stereotypes have been inculcated over decades. Opening hearts and minds is a process, not a lunch appointment. That doesn’t mean you don’t get to work. Andrew Breitbart understood that better than anyone.
The GOP has been in this dilemma before. From 1932 to 1948 the Democrats went 5-0 in Presidential elections. Then in 1952 Eisenhower modernized the GOP and made it relevant for mid 20th Century America. Starting with Ike, the Republican Party began making inroads with tradition Democratic constituencies like Ethnic Whites and Southern Whites. The result was that from 1952 to 1988, The GOP went 7-3 in Presidential elections.
Republicans need to start to compete for as many votes as they can get. They need to micro-target groups and show how Conservative policies will benefit their personal lives. Instead of dismissing segment of the population, we need to engage in dialogue and win their hearts and minds. Then when elected, show the results of Conservative governance. That is how the GOP will make inroads with groups who currently hostile to them.The Republican Party needs to put out charismatic positive faces to sell Conservatism. The Republican Party should viewed as the Party of liberation and freedom, not as one of cranks and grouches. We should also be viewed as the Party of small business and the working class, not of the rich.
Now is not the time to wallow in defeat, instead its time to accept the challenge and modernize the Republican Party and relevant in the 21st Century.
I know much of what I wrote will not be popular but ask yourselves this. Is what the GOP doing currently working?
The GOP needs a new foreign policy as well. The American people don’t believe in nation building and are tired of nations leeching off us. I will discuss this in another thread.