Having seen its base of reliable supporters dwindle to a segment of the population that is more conservative, older and whiter than the rest of the nation, the Republican Party is looking to make adjustments. Monday it released a 100-page report, the “Growth and Opportunity Project,” that proposes ways to reach out to new audiences.
The report’s language can be blunt. Young voters are “increasingly rolling their eyes at what the party represents, and many minorities wrongly think that Republicans do not like them or want them in the country.” The party has the image of a place for “stuffy old men.”
The bottom line: Republicans must attract women, minorities and younger voters or “it will be increasingly difficult for Republicans to win another presidential election in the near future.”
The RNC suggests devoting $10 million toward the goal of creating a “more welcoming conservatism.”
The party bigwigs deserve praise for solidly addressing a major problem for Republicans — attracting voters turned off by the current message, which in recent years could be boiled down to saying “no” to anything Barack Obama says “yes” to. Americans prefer parties with solutions, not endless scolding.
Yet, discussing the creation of a new Republican Party is easier than the actual doing. Go too far from the current party faithful in minority outreach, gay rights or immigration and risk alienating the GOP’s most fervent supporters.
What’s happening here is an extended Southern Strategy hangover. The collecting of Southern whites turned off by a rapidly diversifying Democratic Party in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s created a monster that’s proven difficult to tame. The party’s lever only moves one way — steadily rightward. The authors of the “Growth and Opportunity Project” are seeking ways to balance that tilt.
The George W. Bush presidential campaign sought to do the same with their man’s rallying cry of a “compassionate conservatism” during the 2000 election. That was a hard sell for the party’s more conservative elements, and as evidenced by this week’s call for GOP re-branding, it left no lasting impact on the Republican style of campaigning and governing.
Since then, more than a dozen years have passed. With each past year the nation’s demographic-shifting is further confirmed. Like all political parties, Republicans must adapt or risk shrinking electoral fortunes on the national stage.