Five Reasons A Leaderless Republican Party Will Have to Rebrand
The Republican Party is now leaderless and faced with several pressing challenges:
1.) ECONOMICS: When the Bush Tax Cuts expire, potentially decreasing the deficit by nearly 70%, Republicans will lose a main talking point feeding passionate constituents who struggle with understanding economic issues but see the deficit as problematic. Unemployment is also expected to continue decreasing over the next four years. However, due to the depth of the recession most economists don’t project unemployment to be any lower than 5% by 2016 (4% is the desired rate). Although this will not reflect well on Democrats, from all models I’ve seen, due to the depth of the recession and the “at best recovery time” of roughly 9 years from it’s 2007 conseption, this projection would have played out the same no matter who won the election. This puts Republicans in an interesting strategic position. They will likely continue to use unemployment as a key issue to differentiate the party and rile their base over the next four years, though as recovery continues, utilizing the overarching economy as an argument for their postions is going to be much more difficult. If Democrats wise up this may be the time they expose the following contradiction: is it that too many people are utilizing the social safety net or that there are not enough jobs? The contemporary Republican strategy is to claim one or the other whenever it’s convenient. It’s shocking this fallacy hasn’t gone mainstream yet.
2.) HEALTH CARE: With the Affordable Care Act safely becoming law by 2014, it will inevitably be embraced by big business since it drastically reduces overhead in the long-run. GM’s move to Canada is a prime example of this in action. They were able to keep paying living wages enforced by unionization, while turning the cost of health care for employees and retirees – which at the time was adding up to over a $1000 per car manufactured – into revenue. As the governor behind the original plan “Obamacare” was based on, Romney was quite aware of this fact. While keeping his mouth shut as to not lose the far-right base he pandered to in order to survive the primaries, it’s reasonable that he was hoping to bank on it if elected. As the business community shifts its stance on health care, and as Obamacare gains the populace support that medicare has now, the GOP will be forced to embrace it or drop their opposition to focus on another issue that appeals to their business coalition.
3.) CIVIL RIGHTS: Stances against same-sex marriage are proving to be bad for business and local economies. Last year New York City alone raked in over $270 million from same-sex weddings. With four more states (Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, and Washington) passing propositions in favor of same-sex marriage, the business community and social conservatives may find themselves at odds. And as the gay community is embraced by the nation, bigoted legislation will make the party look foolish and out of touch, much like the attacks on women’s rights did in the last election.
It should be obvious that in the 21st century social conservative stances on women’s rights don’t appeal to many female voters. As time goes by, If the GOP keeps their current stances on abortion, contraception, rape – nearly all things vaginal – it’s going to become even harder for the GOP to reach the female half of the country. Women are choosing to have children later and are growing as the fastest demographic to get hired for professional jobs. They are the new faces of business. Education is key to this success. Just last year, a record 36% of women ages 25-29 had attained bachelor’s degrees. This compares with 28% of men in the same age group. The party of business may soon be whichever party American women choose to vote for.
This plays out in a larger context: see 4.
4.) PHILOSOPHY: It’s hard to be the party of rugged-individualism while also trying to be the party of fate and “God’s will.” Especially when God seems to be willing against you. Just ask Todd Akins and Richard Mourdock. Eventually, if the flaws of each ideology are not addressed, one will consume the other or the party will destroy itself. So which is it going to be?
5.) DEMOGRAPHICS: Two interesting demographic trends hit tipping points in 2012: More people now live in cities than in rural areas, and more ethnic children were born in the country than whites. Both trends show no signs of decline. Due to this fact, as well as immigration, ethnic minorities across America are growing at an annual rate of 1% of the electorate, and they predominantly vote Democrat.
Young voters have been leaning left for quite some time, but they’re now doing so in greater numbers. This is partially due to urbanization and exposure to diversity. American youth tend to be less religious and more accepting of other races and sexual preferences. This leaves the largest Republican coalition as old white men. And they’re in decline.
So if the GOP wants to keep from gradually fading into obscurity, as ex-RNC chairman Michael Steele pointed out, they’re going to have to embrace new coalitions. Doing so means shifting ideology and stances on policy. Most of America pays little attention to non-election season politics. For wonks, this is when it gets the most interesting.