Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The “New” Face of the G.O.P.-Part 1

The 97-page Growth and Opportunity Project report was commissioned in the wake of the 2012 election debacle by Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee. In his N Y Times op-ed Tom Edsall sums the report as follows:

“The G.O.P. report is an extraordinary public acknowledgment of internal discord and vulnerability, which has intensified the battle between the deeply committed conservative wing and the more pragmatic, pro-business wing for control of the Republican Party. With just a few exceptions, it does not mince words.
At the federal level, it says, the party is “marginalizing itself,” and, in the absence of major change, “it will be increasingly difficult for Republicans to win a presidential election in the near future.” Young voters are “rolling their eyes at what the party represents.” Voters’ belief that “the G.O.P. does not care about them is doing great harm.” Formerly loyal voters gathered in focus groups describe Republicans as “ ‘scary,’ ‘narrow-minded’ and ‘out of touch’ and that we were a party of ‘stuffy old men.’ ”

 After the report was released, strange sounds were heard from many different quarters within the party. The message came from different sources, but the substance was the same. The autopsy called for a “new face” for the G.O.P.  The Republican National Committee spent weeks trying to figure out what they did wrong in 2012, but Politico Playbook tells the story in 90 seconds in just a few buzzwords: stale, moss-covered, and anti-everything?

The R.N.C. report calls for abandonment of the party’s anti-immigration stance, flatly declaring that “we must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform.” In an equally radical challenge to Republican orthodoxy, the Priebus report states:

We have to blow the whistle at corporate malfeasance and attack corporate welfare. We should speak out when a company liquidates itself and its executives receive bonuses but rank-and-file workers are left unemployed. We should speak out when C.E.O.s receive tens of millions of dollars in retirement packages but middle-class workers have not had a meaningful raise in years.

The report also warns that Republicans need to mute, if not silence, anti-gay rhetoric if they are to have any chance of regaining support among voters under the age of 30. Accordingly, the issue of same-sex marriage is on course to become a source of significant division within the Republican Party. At the same time, the Republican Party risked alienating a large block of loyal voters if it moved to the left on same-sex marriage.

Many within the G.O.P believe that the party’s message is not the problem, but rather the party’s messengers. Prime examples were Todd Adkins of Missouri and Richard Murdock of Indiana. Some say they need to look at candidate selection and the influence of super-pacs on primary voters. Since the American business community has the most to lose in continued election losses, they argue for moderation. But, it’s obvious that there’s “a significant escalation in the battle between the center and the right over the soul of the Republican Party”.
In a future post, I'll take a look at how the party is responding to the items in the report. Stay tuned.

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