Victory Plan for the Republicans in 2016
First off, I must admit that my personal political leaning is toward the progressive side, but I think that it is important that we have a vibrant debate between at least two sides (or more!) about the issues of our day. That requires the Republican party to figure out why it lost by as much as it did and come out the other side a much stronger, focused party. Here are some common-sense steps I think the Republican party can take to come back to prominence in 2016.
Step 1: Decide a direction to move in
What I mean by that is you must decide whether the GOP is the party of small or large government, the party of Bush intervention in the middle east, or does it take a more cautious tone to foreign policy? The key is to move toward the center or further right. If they want an electoral win, moving closer to the center is the right move. That doesn't mean they have to abandon their values, such as not raising taxes in most circumstances (unless it's a tiny increase on the wealthy), but overall ardently defending against rates going up on the middle-class. They need to become the party fighting for the middle class and not the rich, as they have been portrayed recently.
Step 2: Find a leader
The GOP needs to find a leader that will direct them to a more moderate party that is also more inclusive. They need to throw off the shackles that is the Tea Party movement. Many congressmen who align themselves as "Tea Party" candidates don't think we should raise the debt ceiling (thereby defaulting on our debt and causing great economic harm). That is a largely unpopular position and only represents a small portion of America. The GOP needs a Chris Christie or Jeb Bush to lead them out of the muck and mire they are currently in.
No one knows this struggle better than John Boehner, the Speaker of the House. He has consistently been hampered by the Tea Party wing of his conference. His "Plan B" failed because a good number of his conference were completely opposed to tax increases on the wealthy, even if it was only on income above $1,000,000. Here's how it looked to the American people: The Republicans are threatening to not to raise the debt ceiling, which would cause us to default, because they want cuts to popular entitlement programs in an equal amount to what the Debt Ceiling increase would be. Oddly, this is also the reality of what was happening. Now, the cuts wouldn't come entirely from Medicare (and Medicaid) and Social Security, but a large portion was.
The party's priorities have to change if they want to win further elections.
Step 3: Accept Science
This is a simple step. The next time that the Republicans step on the debate stage against each other and the question of who believes in global warming comes up, they all need to raise their hands and accept it. No longer can they cite scientist bias as a reason why the science is hokey. The science is quite clear. The planet is in a warming period called the Holocene. There will be another "ice age" following it. The obvious question becomes, "Why worry about warming then?" But, the problem is how fast we're warming and the possible effects of that, which are unknown and unprecedented. So, it is no longer feasible to ignore the facts, or whether they are even facts.
Step 4: Tone Down the Social Issues Talk
First off, I am not saying that people shouldn't stand up for what they believe in. I'm simply saying that they shouldn't make it as central as it is in their platform. Social issues are incredibly divisive. But, if they want to be a "big tent" party, they have to be more accepting of other ways of life (read: homosexuality). The public opinion about gay marriage has shifted rapidly over the past 10 years and if the Republicans continue to be on the wrong side of it, it will cost them in elections. The abortion issue is also a losing issue. The supreme court ruled on that quite a while ago. Overturning the Roe v. Wade decision is highly unlikely. They can continue to push that, but do it in a less vocal way. It is not a popular issue with independents. That goes for the birth control issue as well. Women despise that debate and women make up slightly more than half of the electorate.
Step 5: Be consistent on the less government stance
The Republicans are consistently saying they are the party of smaller government. The only problem with this is that every Republican President (as well as Democratic ones) has grown the size of government. Bush exploded the deficit to the ire of many a fiscal conservative. President Obama, a Democrat, has actually reduced the amount of federal workers by over 600,000. Being fiscally conservative can be largely popular in America, but they have to have realistic examples of when they did that, especially when they control the Presidency.
They need to actually mean it and show examples of where they shrunk the government.
Another example of poor consistency is when they talk about things they disagree with, like gay marriage, abortion, etc. They want a federal ban on gay marriage, which would negate any state that has legalized gay marriage. With abortion, they want to overturn Roe v. Wade and outlaw abortion. If they were truly pro-small government, they would leave it to the states, but still push for the banning of gay marriage and abortion, whether by ballot initiative or by the courts.
Consistency counts. It avoids the charge of hypocrisy by their opponents.
Some remaining thoughts
This is by no means a comprehensive list of what should be done. But, I feel that their message of small government, fiscal conservatism, and pro-growth platform could be very popular and well-received by the public. It will just take some fine tuning. Their moderate leaders (Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, etc.) need to step up and lead the party to victory. It can be done, but only if they take hard look at why they lost as badly as they did.
That does not mean giving up your convictions, but it does mean being more open-minded to the reality of the situation. They've somehow accepted the role of defending large corporations, vastly rich people, and cutting student loan aid, social security, and medicare. I don't think that's what the GOP originally stood for.
I believe they were formed on the simple thought: all things in moderation. They also stood for personal freedom, responsibility, and yes, success. But, that doesn't mean success for only the very few. If they can become the party fighting to better the lives of ordinary Americans, I think they can truly come back to prominence.
I welcome your comments and suggestions.