Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Republicans Need To Avoid Throwing Whites And Social Conservatives Under The Bus While Expanding Their Outreach To Non-Whites And Moderates

Screenshot of Newsweek cover from Council of Conservative Citizens

The future of the Republican Party continues to be vigorously debated in the wake of Mitt Romney's defeat. Many are focusing upon the racial disparity in the outcome -- while 59 percent of Whites voted Republican, a combined 80 percent or so of all non-Whites voted Democratic. Social conservatives are also increasingly being portrayed as an albatross around the necks of Republicans. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young have both weighed in, with Murkowski wanting the GOP to become more globalist and inclusive, while Young wants the GOP to retain traditional ties. Thus there's evidence that some pundits and Republicans are willing to implicitly throw Whites and explicitly throw social conservatives under the bus to reach out to non-Whites and moderates.

The Anchorage Daily News published two articles on November 13th representing this viewpoint. The first one is a replication of a Miami Herald editorial entitled "Alienating Latinos spells big trouble for Republican Party". The Herald suggests that Hispanics played a significant and possibly decisive role in the outcome of the 2012 presidential election. They claim that Romney's effort to woo primary voters hostile to the DREAM Act and to what they classify as "sensible immigration reform" (a.k.a. amnesty for illegal Hispanics) sealed his fate with Hispanic voters. And since the "browning" of America is expected to continue, the Herald suggests the GOP needs to work harder to communicate Republican ideas to Hispanics, focusing first and foremost on the U.S. economy and job creation. Social conservatism is left out of the mix.

Note that the Herald expressed no concern about outreach towards Asians and Blacks, who also voted Democratic in large numbers. I guess the Herald doesn't mind if Hispanics become the Republicans designated "pet minority", to the exclusion of Asians, Blacks, and perhaps American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Of greater interest to us Alaskans is a Compass piece by Moira Sullivan, a Republican who's related to the late Anchorage Mayor George Sullivan. In her article, entitled "Moira Sullivan urges GOP to drop social agenda, draw young voters", Moira leads off by writing "The Republican Party has, at this moment, a historic golden opportunity. It has the chance to do for America what Lisa Murkowski did for Alaska two years ago: Cast its extreme right-wing members into a third party, and carve out a new centrist coalition to lead the next generation". You can tell right away that an attack upon the Tea Party is in the offing.

And sure enough, Moira Sullivan blames the whole shebang on "Tea Party extremists". She claims that the Tea Party has been losing momentum and that the country is increasingly finding their social agenda "abhorrent", characterizing it as "bigotry". She also makes a racist and ageist reference to the Republican Party as being dominated by "old white men". She does remind us that the GOP does need to reach out more to young people, which is valid. But she recommends that the GOP make the Tea Party a third party, thinking that it will become a coterie of "severe extremism" that may continue to pull in 10-15 percent of the vote.

What she's betting here is that a realigned Republican Party could make up that 15 percent by getting more of the independent and moderate Democratic vote. But social conservatives still have power. In the recent election, the Alaska Family Council flexed their muscle in the judicial retention elections, urging a No vote on Judge Sen Tan. And while Judge Tan was retained, he only got a 54 percent Yes vote vs. an average 65 percent Yes vote for the other judges. Social conservatives still have stroke.

At this point in time, it doesn't appear that Republicans explicitly want to throw Whites under the bus to get more of the non-White vote, although they may be willing to take the White vote for granted. But it does appear that they are willing to throw social conservatives under the bus. And this could backfire; if both the Democrats and the Republicans are absolutely pro-choice and pro-gay marriage, social conservatives will bolt. And the Republican party may not elect another President as a result. The Republican Party cannot regain national dominance merely by becoming a "Ferengi" party using objectivism and feudalism to promote plutocracy. We are willing for social issues to be moved to the back burner, but not willing for them to be taken off the stove altogether.

A Washington Post article entitled "How the Republican party can rebuild — in 4 not-so-easy steps" caught my eye. Some of what they recommend has merit:

(1). Stop running against things and start running for things: This has some merit. Some Republicans say "can't" much more than "can". Instead of being against unrestricted abortion and gay marriage, we should be FOR traditional cultural and family values, and accept the need for abortion in cases of life, health, rape, and incest. If a socially conservative faith like Mormonism can accept therapeutic abortion, Republicans should find it an easy choice to make. Instead of being against diversity and multiculturalism, we should be FOR unity and Americanism, promoting the idea that common American nationality takes precedence over individual heritage.

(2). Find a way into the Hispanic community: This has conditional merit. While we need to show that Republican values can benefit the Hispanic community, we need to remind Hispanics that they are still a subset of the greater American community. We can bend a bit on the immigration issue, treating illegal immigration as a secondary offense rather than a primary offense, but we must insist on illegal immigrants paying a price if caught -- no forgiveness without repentance.

(3) Innovate on voter contact: The Post claims that the Obama campaign’s neighbor-to-neighbor grassroots targeting and mobilization approach was vastly superior to the more traditional GOP turnout operation, which relies heavily on a series of automated phone calls to voters. Absolutely agree, particularly on the issue of robocalls. In countless news stories I've seen, I have read countless comments by people absolutely sick and tired of being interrupted by robocalls. Not only is it telemarketing, but it is uniquely impersonal. No candidate should rely on robocalls.

(4). Vet and select candidates in a more rigorous manner: This was more of a problem elsewhere than here in Alaska. Former Delaware Republican Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell and former Nevada Republican Senate candidate Sharron Angle come to mind; many Nevadans still insist a different Republican could have beaten Harry Reid in 2010.

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