Remaking the GOP
It's the end as we know it. The end of an era for the Republican Party. But with every end, there comes a new beginning.
It has long been said that America is a center-right nation. But many are wondering: how that can be when such a vulnerable incumbent and unabashed liberal as Barack Obama convincingly beat moderate Mitt Romney?
It is because America has changed. We are no longer naturally a center-right nation. How else can you explain the results on Election Day?
This does not mean that the potential to shift the pendulum back isn't there. But in order to do this, it will take a total revamp of the Republican Party.
This November was a wake-up call for the GOP to come to terms with the changes in America. We can no longer depend on male and white supermajorities to carry us across the finish line. Nor should we. We should be the party of all the people -- blacks, whites, Asians, Hispanics, seniors and young people, men and women, rich and poor, everyone. Our party is the natural home for all people, because our policies benefit everyone. We can be a big-tent party not by compromising our principles, but by connecting with Americans of every background.
This is not just a political issue -- it's a moral issue. We need to significantly change our messaging and actually communicate and reach out to all people groups as an investment in the future of America.
What hurt us in particular over the past ten years is that we have consistently alienated Hispanics with our unnecessarily harsh tone on immigration. If we are ever to win nationally again, or even compete in states like Nevada, Arizona, Florida, and even Texas down the road, we need to cool down the rhetoric, tweak our policies, and aggressively court and reach out to Latinos. We need to vocally embrace legal immigration and show that we have a realistic and fair plan, such as allowing a path to citizenship for those who serve in our military.
Our party can be attractive to Hispanics. Many are devout Catholics, believe in family values, want a choice in education for their kids, and want the government to stay out of their way. Conservatism is a natural fit for them. But Democratic scare tactics have been successful in branding our party as anti-immigration and anti-minority. This strategy has worked because of our failure to reach out and explain what we actually stand for, and the result is Republicans losing the Hispanic vote by an increasing margin each election cycle. And while the white vote declines, the Latino vote grows.
Had this election been held in the 1990s, the Romney campaign's strategy would have worked. In 1996, whites made up 83% of the vote, according to CNN exit polls at the time. But in 2012, the white vote was 72%. The fact is undeniable: this is the 21st century, and yet the GOP has been employing the political strategy of the last century -- a strategy that was flawed to begin with.
Regarding women, how does a party who ignores Bill Clinton's adultery manage to win over more women than Republicans? Messaging. Bill Clinton had a 63% favorable opinion rating among women this past July, according to Gallup. We need to better connect with women to show that we are the party of families, the party that wants parents to be able to choose where their kids go to school, the party of affordable health care through the free market. We are the party on the side of all classes -- working, middle, and upper -- and the party that unites, not divides.
We won't treat women like they are objects by acting as if the only women's issues are contraceptives and abortion. Women care about the economy, about their families, about education, about our military and the safety of our country, and about everything else men care about. There are no women's issues, just as there are no men's issues. There are only human issues.
Barack Obama would prefer to divide us. He seeks by his actions and rhetoric to use the issues that face our country today to pit Americans against each other so he can benefit politically. Obama has said that there are no red states, no blue states -- only the United States. But we are more polarized now than ever.
Fiscally, the youth vote should also naturally be on our side. The Democratic Party has increased the deficit at a rapid pace. They refuse to reform Medicare and Social Security to make sure that these programs still exist for future generations. If the status quo continues, young people will be stuck with uncertainty and an economy shackled by mounting debt and higher taxes. They will be forced to make payments into Medicare and Social Security that could very well be gone in forty or fifty years.
The Republican Party was founded to end slavery -- yet we have allowed ourselves to be branded the party of the 1950s, the party of old white men. It's time we change our strategy and our messaging to reach out to young people, to explain to them that their future is at stake while offering them a positive and optimistic alternative. We may need to do this by recruiting more women, minorities, and younger candidates to run for office, and by making sure they excite the base by supporting conservative values.
The choice is simple if we can just clear the liberal fog and show the nation who we really are. Obama's strategy has been to divide and conquer. Our strategy should be to unite and make peace. Their party promotes welfare and encourages people to give up. Our party promotes independence and encourages people to move up.
Losing this election may in fact be a good thing for our party, because now we have time to improve and to change before it is too late. Now is our chance to re-evaluate ourselves and what we stand for. How can we better explain our values and reach out to all Americans? Should we put more focus on some issues than on others? Is it time for a new Contract with America (perhaps "Promises to America")?
We know that the Republican Party needs an extreme makeover. We need to revamp, revitalize, and remodel -- not by changing our values, but rather by embracing conservatism and revolutionizing our messaging for a new era. We cannot be merely accommodating for groups like Hispanics, women, and young people; we need to actively and aggressively pursue their support and run candidates from every background. We need to clearly show how our policies help them and offer a clear alternative to the other party.
In the end, conservative values can triumph again. America can triumph again. But it's going to take an overhaul and transformation for the Grand Old Party.