Even the Chairman of the Republican National Committee thinks the Republican Party is not right!
The Republican National Committee opens its winter meeting Wednesday in Washington. GOP Chairman Reince Priebus has written a strategy designed to expand the Party’s reach to include more women, minorities, gays and younger voters. The strategy is titled the “Growth and Opportunity Project,” and will attempt to change the image of the Republican Party to be more inclusive.
The plan to broaden the GOP’s appeal will target new voters and win back voters who defected for the upcoming 2014 midterm elections and the 2016 presidential election. The Republican Party has lost the popular vote in 5 out of the last 6 presidential elections, and a recent Gallup poll shows that the Party’s favorable rating has fallen to 32%... down from 43% immediately following the re-election of President Obama last November. The same rating for the Democratic Party has also fallen, but there is a consensus within the Republican Party that an image change is desperately needed if the Party hopes to win control of Congress and the White House.
But changing the image of the GOP will not be without a fight. The Republican Party has been fighting a civil war that was obvious even before last year’s presidential election. The influence of the Tea Party and ultra-conservatives have painted the GOP with a far-right image. The battle for the soul of the Republican Party is over whether the Party should become more conservative or more moderate.
The image of the Republican Party has been damaged by Republicans with extreme views on abortion, rape, same-sex marriage and even birth control – all views that are no longer the views of mainstream Americans. The question is – does the Republican Party have the courage to divorce the extreme right-wing and much of the base in order to migrate back to a more moderate position on issues that many Americans consider social, not political issues?
Considering recent political trends, the 2016 presidential election should be the Republican’s election to lose. While Americans often resist change at every opportunity, they do seem to embrace changing control of the White House and after two terms of a Democrat in the White House, there should be a mood for change in 2016.
Furthermore, if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic Presidential candidate for 2016, her image as an established Washington insider will clash with the growing contempt Americans have for the political establishment. Though Americans had negative views of both parties during and following the partial government shutdown over defunding the Affordable Care Act last year, it was clear the Republican Party took the biggest hit.
There are many conservatives that assess the image of the Republican Party through the myopic perspective that includes themselves, their family and friends and conservative-based media and social media and project that perspective across the country. Those conservatives are in serious denial about the image their party holds across America. But many Republican leaders have taken honest inventory of their party, and understand that change is vital to the future life of the GOP.
The Republican Party and the top candidates cannot control the maniacal rants of local and national candidates who are so dedicated to their social agendas that winning an election is secondary to advancing their views on certain issues. And there will always be those candidates that share the view of their party through their own personal perspective and continue to blame the liberal media for their defeats. Failing to recognize that the media does not really control elections will only lead to future party losses.
With the intense rhetoric from the conservative right during the elections 2008 and 2012, and in the face of all of the dire predictions about America, President Obama was elected and re-elected. The perception that most Americans want and need the Republican Party to control America is created from the noise made by a vocal minority. It is a more silent majority that controlled the outcome of the past two presidential elections.
The Baby Boomer generation, which is now the Establishment, seems reluctant to accept the reality that new, younger generations are impacting today’s political debates. Views on same-sex marriage, abortion, minorities, immigration and a host of other issues among Americans under 40 continue to steer support away from the GOP.
The stage is set for the Republican Party to win back the white House in 2016 – but ONLY if the Party unites behind a moderate candidate that is willing to resist the temptation of the far-right to make social issues a major part of what the GOP stands for.
The far-right of the Republican Party contradicts its own ideology which is based more on individual problem-solving, rather than government intervention. Promoting government control of issues as personal as same-sex marriage continues to inspire the migration to the Democratic Party.
President George W. Bush ran as a “compassionate conservative,” which implied a moderate position. The Obama administration has not been without controversies, and as those controversies and the long-range impact of the Affordable Care Act are felt, another “compassionate conservative”-type candidate could give Republicans an advantage at winning in 2016.
If Republicans fail to field a moderate candidate, or if they fail to loudly denounce the right-wing extremists during the campaign – the Democrats could be handed the election.