The real damage to the Republican Party last week did not come from Mitt Romney’s narrow loss to President Obama. Rather, the fact that Republicans came within a few precious percentage points of claiming the nation’s highest office indicates that the Party will be doomed to successive failure as our nation’s economy slowly trudges its way upwards toward prosperity.
The fact that former Massachusetts Governor Romney did not lose in a landslide may be perceived as good news to a certain cadre of conservatives. Perhaps it indicates to them that “traditional values” and tired social beliefs still have a deeply rooted place within the American national conscience.
Yet had the Republican candidate been soundly defeated, the party would most likely be on track for a serious reorganizational effort the likes of which have not been seen since the 1960s. Romney only managed to compete in this election based upon his perceived strength on economic issues and comfortable popularity amongst America’s substantial elderly white electorate.
The Republican platform that Mitt Romney ran on was one of thinly veiled opposition to social changes whose trajectory is inevitable and apparent. Younger voters overwhelming supported the Democratic candidate in this past election, based largely on Obama’s more progressive views on topics such as the legalization of gay marriage and a woman’s right to choose.
If the Republican Party abandoned their anachronistic social goals and focused on being a constructive opposition to Democrats founded upon conservative economic principles, the Right would be making the right decision for the future of conservatism.
Instead, it seems that the radical, Tea Party-leaning fringe Republicans will continue to hold undeserved sway over an organization in which the majority of members generally hold more moderate social views than their leaders, who feel a sense of obligation to pander to the base views of a group of people who wish to cling to a vision of America that is quickly fading.
If Republican strategists wish to grow their party’s presence among America’s youth and rapidly expanding minority populations, they need to abandon their outmoded practice of pushing against new thought and social liberation and shift instead toward presenting a moderate stance of acceptance that will appeal to voters who sympathize with Democratic social leanings, but not their fiscal and foreign policy goals.
They need to take a look at the growing popularity of their Libertarian sub-groups and candidates such as Ron Paul who have garnered serious support from demographics that have not traditionally supported Republicans. This should prompt them to grow toward becoming a party that truly champions smaller government in every sense of the word, not the hazy concoction of dogmatic societal instruction that comprises their platform today.
The Republican Party is on a track that is not sustainable over the long term, as America grows to become a more diverse and accepting nation. The conservative strategy of opposing the new and ardently defending what was done in the past does not bode well for the party.