In the wake of the Republican party’s defeat in a very winnable election, there is much soul searching going on. Some Republicans think everything is fine and dandy and that people just want to mooch. Others realize that the Republican party needs to update its message for the 21st Century. Karl Rove is the face of the old guard. His outdated tactics failed miserable in 2012. His SuperPac spent 300 million and only produced 1 victory. Yet he is still held in his esteem within Republican circles.
A new generation of Republican leaders is emerging. They realize America has changed and that the Republican Party must adapt to this changed environment. The Republicans have lost the popular vote for President in 5 out of the 6 last presidential elections. Clearly the Party is doing something wrong and an updated message is needed.
In the weeks following the presidential election, a number of prominent conservatives, stunned by the scale of Mitt Romney’s loss, took to the cable-news circuit, offering heterodoxies and heresies designed to save a wounded party.
In other words, the long-overdue moment of Republican reflection has begun. But these are frequently the strategic reflections of veteran party activists, and their solutions have tended to be shortsighted.
If the party desires a return to the White House—and they have only won the popular vote once since 1988—they would be well advised to look to a new generation of conservative writers and intellectuals.
That new generation has for the most part moved beyond battles over whether the top marginal tax rate should be 28 percent or 35 percent; rather, they want to reboot the way Republicans talk to—and think about—the 47 percent.
Multiple Congressmen—Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Rep. Peter King, and Sen. Lindsey Graham—retreated from Grover Norquist’s infamous anti-tax pledge. Republican strategist Mike Murphy advised his fellow conservatives to develop a “view of America that’s not right out of Rush Limbaugh’s dream journal.” Weekly Standard editor William Kristol has told Fox News Sunday viewers that tax hikes on millionaires isn’t a hill Republicans should die on—for three weeks in a row. Even conservative firebrand Sean Hannity claimed to have “evolved” on immigration, seeing it as an issue that has “got to be resolved.”
Conservative factionalism isn’t going anywhere—the paleos will still do battle with the neocons, who will launch attacks on the libertarians, who in turn will declare war on the social conservatives—but many on the right expect priorities to shift dramatically in the wake of 2012. Republicans had better hope that the Hayekian idea of spontaneous order will work in the post-Romney shakeout, allowing the most sensible views to dominate, and preventing a single clique— those who Carney derisively calls the K Street crowd—from determining the party’s ideological future.
Will the Republican Party adapt its message for the 2010’s? I am personally not hopeful since the Establishment and elements of the base are resistant to change tactics. No strategy to take on the media is being discussed and the Establishment is pushing Jeb Bush. Rick Santorum, who was very disastrous for the party in 2012 is now thinking of running again. Clearly, the lessons of 2012 are being ignored and it might take another electoral defeat in 2016 for the Republican Party to get its act together. 2020 is the earliest I see another Republican getting elected, but by then it could very well be too late for the country as the Democrats will have us bankrupted this nation.
The Republican party should become the anti-system party. It should position itself as a rebellious cause fighting to overthrow the oppressive regime of the Democrats. The GOP should ba party for Liberation and Freedom. That would be a winning message and a great political strategy. But until the likes of Karl Rove, Grover Norquist, Jeb Bush and Rick Santorum are neutered, I do not foresee this happening.