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Notes from a Notorious Lefty-What Does the GOP Need to do to Improve?
Well first of all, I wish to confer my congratulations to President Obama on his reelection. But for my friends on the other side of the ideological divide, I don’t want to say “I told you so”, but I told you so. Ok, there has been no end to “Monday morning quarter backs” and such.
I want to make it clear that I need the Republican Party as a balance to the danger Democrats pose through nanny government and increasing collectivism verses the concepts of the individual prerogative, personal responsibility and self reliance. The fact that the GOP was defeated by a good margin is not sending the message to the GOP that these concepts are not important to most of us, they are. We may always have reasoned debate as to where those lines are, but most of us are concerned about avoiding extremes either way. They are, in fact, the source of America’s economic power at the core. The existence of a center right and center left party counterbalancing each other, avoiding extremism from either end is ideal.
Being inclusive does not have to be seen as the very antithesis of GOP core principles. The party has not only been guilty of ignoring large constituencies that rushed into the arms of Barack Obama, but had insulted them as well. The conservative view to the immigration issue need not be all wrapped up in the concept of ‘self deportation’. Even the GOP could have taken a more reflective stand without alienation so much of the Hispanic electorate. The GOP insults women and reduces them to children when they imply that they and their reproductive matters are reduced to just another ward of the state. To try to divert attention from these matters is disrespectful.
It is not just about the Obama supporters receiving ‘hand outs’. The young, Generation X and the Millennials are concerned about their economic future, comments like that from Governor Romney about their obtaining funds from their parents in the search for higher education gave them the impression of a society not willing to offer any assistance. I could not imagine getting through the university system so many years ago without the availability of student loans. Romney implies fewer Pell Grants and other economic assists that made higher education available to greater numbers. It amounts to an insensitive national government looking the other way as we need these young people to hold on to jobs and drive the economy of the future. It is easy to see why this group supported Mr.Obama.
As a African American, my problem with the GOP is that it does not have any solutions to growing economic inequity that leaves the most vulnerable all the more shut out. It does not have to be so; I remember the efforts of the late Jack Kemp, GOP congressman from New York during the 1980’s. He was an architect of the concept of Urban Enterprise Zones. This was an interesting concept of using tax breaks to bring jobs and industry into depressed urban areas. This was within the principles of the GOP, but was being used in a way that I could see was trying to address a serious problem. Had he ran for President in the early 80’s I could have seen myself voting for Mr. Kemp.
Now, instead of creativity to address problems, it is easier to suppress votes, malign Blacks as a group. That is going to run the vast majority into Barack Obama’s embrace. We see the GOP as the party of aristocrats wanting to hold on to their advantage at any cost. There are so many unfortunate comments from Mitt during the campaign that reinforced that viewpoint.
Racial, gender and age issues aside, even among Anglos, people have no reason to believe that going back to the future, more deregulation, tax cuts that leave them economically vulnerable so as to prime a pump as part of an approach held to great derision not much more than 4 years ago. The GOP needs to show that its vision of the economy and the role of Government are to the advantage of many, not just a chosen few. Mitt Romney was always ‘their ‘candidate, rather than ours. That perception of distrust among Anglos in addition to the disaffection of women and ethnic groups insured his defeat last November 6th.
The GOP needs to put on its thinking cap, and come to the conclusion that it is more to its benefit to admit that you need to join them rather than beat them. The demographic numbers are not going to permit the GOP in its present mode to do well in future national contests, but become a regional party.
In a nutshell here is what I think the GOP needs to address
1. The GOP needs to get rid of its extremist elements from the forefront of the party, as that goes well past center right into a zone that going to turn off most of us.
2. Show how the free-enterprise model they extol translates into creating jobs and opportunities for disaffected groups (facsimiles of representatives of these groups that they bring into the limelight are not good enough). As of late, the middle class has become a disaffected group. That is a large group.
3. Politics in this country are of such a nature that neither party can afford to take any part of the electorate for granted. You cannot ignore half of the voting age population and expect to receive their vote. Work harder to become more diverse, inclusive and thereby more relevant.