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As a politically-conscious Canadian it is difficult to refrain from outright republican bashing. It is easy to demonize today’s GOP as a coalition of right-wing American nuts. But doing this overlooks the fact that American history is full of effective republican presidents. This article will analyse the underlying problems with the American right of today.
What is easily forgettable about the 2012 election is that the Republicans came very close to winning. Regardless of other accomplishments, presidents rarely win re-election when the American economy is weak (i.e. George Bush Sr). So while Obama clearly led the polls on foreign policy, Mitt Romney could match or surpass the incumbent on fiscal policy, meaning he held a natural advantage. Remember that while 65million Americans voted for Obama, 62 million voted against him. So why did the Republican lose? And what changes must occur should the party ever win a presidency?
Are Tea-Party extremists the problem? Offensive and unscientific comments on rape made by religious-type republicans (Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock) certainly don’t help. Sarah Palin certainly has made her fair share of doozies, and was part of 2008’s republican route. But the real problem lies yet deeper.
Neither American party can win without serious support across voter-demographics. However support for republicans amongst African, Hispanic, and Asian Americans has been dwindling. This is not because American conservative ideologies are not popular amongst non-whites, self-reliance and hard work fit naturally with immigrant experience. Indeed George W. Bush won 44% of the Hispanic vote in 2004, Romney won only 27%. This decline is bad enough, but the population of non-whites in America has been growing. In 2000, non-whites made up 20% of the electorate, today they make up 28%; most of this growth comes from an influx of Hispanics. Women too have been growing as a proportion of the electorate. It is no secret that both non-whites and women vote democrat in greater numbers. Republican supporters fit their stereotype – they are generally old, white, and male. Republicans must appeal to a broader audience if they are to return to the White House.
Thus the republicans must modernize their platform. Winning elections requires pragmatism. The party should keep the right-wing fiscal policies associated with America’s right, but be willing to bend on some social policies. The republicans must woo growing voter-demographics by adopting more liberal stances on immigration and abortion. Foreign policy is another area where the GOP has lost ground. Eisenhower and Reagan talked tough during the Cold War, but also knew when to reduce tensions by offering American cooperation. However republicans today demonize Muslims (eg. opposing the construction of a mosque in Manhattan) even though cooperating with non-radicals is a necessary move to combat Islamic-extremists. McCain and Romney have done little to distance themselves from the blunders of George W. Bush. It was Reagan who signed the first SALT treaty with Russia, but republicans today criticize the uncontroversial New START treaty, and mock his attempt to ‘reset’ relations with Moscow.
Reforming the party’s policies will be a tough pill for the GOP to swallow, but it is for the party’s own good. Unless the republicans become more pragmatic, the democrats will control the executive branch of government for decades.
by Dylan F