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The Republican Party's Little Problem
9 months after Election Day, Republicans are still having trouble re-branding. This is why...
Republicans have a problem, but its not one they like to talk much about these days. And that is just their problem. Namely, the Republican Party's problem is that they still haven't figured out why they lost to President Obama and the Democrats in 2012. It already seems like ancient history to some, but Republicans are still reeling over their defeat, and instead of asking why a majority of 5 million Americans might have conceivably voted against them, Republicans have been fighting something of a civil war within their own ranks. Some seem to think that any Republican less conservative than Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh is automatically unfit for public office and that Mitt Romney was not conservative enough. Others state that all they need to do is change their language and tone, instead of their message.The final group wants the Party to do some serious soul searching.
Of these different positions, only one of them is the right way to go. The most obviously flawed position is that, if the Republican Party had just run a true, dyed-in-the-wool conservative, than that candidate would be in the White House right now. From the look of most major polls, this argument seems unlikely. The consensus among this group of ultra conservatives is that Americans are really a center right people, and could be tempted to vote for a very conservative candidate. The reality is, of course, much more complex. Americans do tend to be fiscally conservative on economic issues. But when it comes to social issues, Republicans run a serious risk of alienating vast swaths of the population. For example, majorities now support marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. Republicans do not. In point of fact, majorities of Americans now seem to associate the Republican Party with the terms "extreme," "out of touch," "greedy," and "defenders of the rich." Generally, these are not things a party wants to be associated with.
And then, there is the matter of women. During the last election, Republicans damaged their brand among women, especially with candidates like Todd Akin. The Republicans lost the chance to gain two seats in the Senate because of unwise words by Republican candidates concerning women, rape or abortion. Those who find themselves in the "Mitt wasn't conservative enough" camp might want to consider the following; Missouri is a fairly conservative state. After Todd Akin made his remarks about "legitimate rape," fairly conservative Missouri proceeded to reelect Senator Claire McCaskill, the Democrat. Indiana did the same thing. Had Akin run for President, he would not have won the Presidency either. His conservatism ended up defeating him, in a conservative state, because he was too conservative.
Or, if that doesn't fit the bill, how about this; Ever wonder why Rick Santorum lost the Republican nomination? If the people of the United States, or even the Republican Party, wanted a truly "conservative" candidate, then why isn't Rick Santorum the President right now? The answer is that the United States actually isn't as conservative as it once was. It would be a stretch to say that it is a center-left nation, of course. If anything, America is a center-center country, that leans left on some issues and right on others.
Other Republicans have taken a very different approach. "There's no need to change any of our positions," they say. "Just change the words, and use a different tone," they add. Why not? Just put the broken pieces in a brand new box, they seem to say, and Americans will buy it. There's no need to change anything but the words.
This, of course, is nonsense, and furthermore, is an insult to voters intelligence. It is also probably a pretty fair reason why many people so distrust politicians; Why should Americans trust politicians or political parties that use deceptive language, and hide behind innocent gestures while possibly planning an agenda that might be detrimental to those who vote for them? This kind of manipulation is just not a great thing to sell to the people who cast the votes. It is also useless. After voting against Republicans because of their message, most Americans are likely to be more aware that Republicans are using misleading language.
In light of this, what are Republicans to do? Well, they might do well to listen to the last camp. These Republicans would like their party to do some serious soul searching. And Republicans really could use some soul searching right now, because their current policies and positions seem out of whack with most Americans. They need to find a different message, not a different tone, and they need smarter conservatives, not more conservative conservatives. They need to rethink their opposition to gay marriage. They need to offer conservative, market based solutions to climate change, instead of outright denial. They need to offer a fiscally sound plan in Congress, one that the President and Democrats can seriously consider. They need to offer compromises, and they need to compromise.
All of the above paragraphs present the discussion that is currently dividing the Republican Party. But those aren't the Republicans problem. The Republican Party's problem is that it has to have the discussion in the first place.
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