Politics Straight, No Chaser
The Republican Question
Published: Monday, March 18, 2013
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 21:04
As the debt crisis continues in Washington D.C. and as the Conservative Political Action Conference begins in Maryland, the problems facing the Republican Party in the coming years are beginning to be highlighted, while the direction of the party remains in a state of doubt. The defeat of former Republican Presidential Nominee and former governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney in the presidential election in November was the first hint of a problem that had existed long before the election—their message was off-target for so many voters, the divisions in the party became all too apparent and they could not shake their image as a party reserved for the rich. These issues can all be fixed to some extent, but the future of the Republican Party needs to be decided before they will continue to lose presidential and senatorial elections.
The root of the issue for the party lies in the problems they have widening their support base. They have always won the older, wealthy white male vote. This has not changed recently and probably never will as the party continually fails to appeal to women, minorities, voters under 30-years-old, urban voters and the middle class. They have problems with these groups for various reasons, but the overarching theme of their unattractiveness remains their image as a non-inclusive party. All while fighting for the needs of the wealthy, Republicans have historically neglected to support the poor, college students, homosexuals and other demographics—not a good image for them. Yes, voters respond to tax cuts in a positive fashion, but not when they are geared towards relieving the highest earners in the country. And the college-aged demographic may be all for small government, but the Republican Party can’t win them over on that alone, as they care more about the political fight in D.C. than helping the average American.
Republicans have also not been active on policy surrounding social issues. It may be because they are trying to represent the views of their demographics, but many Republicans do not support the gay rights movement, have had a disdain for immigrants until recently and refuse to demonstrate progress on support for women’s rights. When President Barack Obama mentioned equal pay for equal work for women in the State of the Union, Republicans stayed seated as Democrats applauded the line—even the female Republicans sat there. It’s just baffling how they can manage to appeal to such a limited population.
Yet, there is some good news for Republicans. Recently, 131 prominent Republicans signed an amicus brief (a legal document outlying the points of law that are in doubt) in the favor of gay marriage and sent it to the Supreme Court. To name a few in the group, former governor and presidential candidate John Huntsman of Utah, Clint Eastwood, strategists like Steve Schmidt, Ken Spain and Beth Myers and Bush administration officials such as Paul Wolfowitz and Christie Whitman. There are a number of Congressmen who have signed on too, including Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and a few former congressmen as well. There is a definite shift in some sections of the party that realize Republicans need to pay more attention to the social and political minorities. There will always be a contingent of Republicans who will never support gay rights, but movement forward has been taken for the survival of the party.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-Lous.) put it best when he said Republicans need to “stop being the stupid party.” They should not be catering to the lowest common denominator and cannot expect to win elections by insulting voters’ intelligence. Don’t simplify policy and expect voters to be satisfied because the voters they need typically don’t respond well to that. What bothered the governor most were the “47 percent” comments made by Romney at one of his fundraisers. Jindal talked about how Republicans cannot continue ignoring certain demographics as their policies must make a push for 100 percent of the electorate.
Don’t scare away the intellectuals and minorities and show them that they can coexist. Show the young libertarians they have a place in the party. Show that the party is content to actually keep government out of people’s lives and not just in select areas, like gun rights. Show women and minorities you respect their equality. Fight for the middle classes earnings. No matter how you feel about either party, you must realize that having a bipartisan electorate is better for the country and Republicans need to catch up to the Democrats in order to restore the balance.