Can Republicans get their act together before Obama 'pulverizes' the right?
Meeting in Charlotte, N.C., this week, a weakened Republican National Committee laid out plans for how to regain the GOP's electoral footing after losses in 2012. But questions about where Republicans really stand went unanswered.
Perhaps trying to eke some mojo out of the city where the Democrats held their successful convention last year, the Republican National Committee came out of a three-day meeting in Charlotte, N.C., this week with a blueprint for what the dispirited party hopes is a way out of the post-election weeds.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
The meeting confirmed what most Americans can see plainly: The Party of Lincoln is having a crisis of confidence. The failure of Mitt Romney to connect deeply enough to win a race against a vulnerable Democratic incumbent shook the party establishment, which is already dealing with a powerful internecine and absolutist revolt from right-wingers in the guise of the tea party.
For Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, the battle is to reach out to new demographics and beef up the party's moribund ground game, but also to shift the conversation away from "government bookkeeping" to dinner table dilemmas – all while remaining relevant against an attempt by President Obama to, in effect, "pulverize" the party, in the words of Slate columnist John Dickerson.
Though many Republicans believe the cure is for the party to run even harder on fiscal principles – lower taxes, lower spending, give me liberty or give me death – it may well be the party's success in breaking out its "older white guy" mold that defines its fortunes in 2014 and beyond, and calibrates it for battles with Obama that are likely to define America for generations.
"The Republicans are dead in the water right now … they're an aging white party in a country that is less white each year," syndicated columnist Mark Shields told the PBS NewsHour Friday night.
It's a healthy and necessary debate, to be sure, for a party that serves as a counterweight to America's more progressive tendencies, as embodied by the reelection of President Obama – the man who has overseen the massive $5.8 trillion increase in the national debt.
While Obama is likely to use his second term to strengthen the Democratic fortress in hopes of further weakening the Republicans, there's plenty of ground that can be won by conservatives. After all, the country remains center-right on issues from abortion to gun control, and insecurity about the national debt runs across party lines and across regional and income demographics. Moreover, the party has built a serious stable of potential leadership contenders, including Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz
What Republicans say the party as a whole, as well as various candidates, have largely failed to do, however, is consider voters as people instead of numbers on a campaign consultant's chart.