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How We Need to Rebuild the Republican Party

Analyzing the exit poll data after the 2012 election, there are some interesting results and opportunities that provide a blueprint for what the Republican Party can do to start winning elections again. This election was so close, just a combined 300,000 votes in Florida, Ohio, Virginia, and New Hampshire made all the difference. So many pundits in the last 48 hours have been recommending predictable advice: conservatives thought Romney wasn’t conservative enough, moderates thought Romney wasn’t moderate enough, Ron Paul supporters thought Romney wasn’t Ron Paul enough, etc.

Going forward, I’d like to lay out the challenges Republicans have, including what is in our control and what’s not in our control, and present solutions and arguments that can be made so that we can make sure we don’t repeat 2012, both in the presidential and Senate races.

Let’s start with what’s not in our control. Most Republicans are aware that this battle is really a 4 on 1 battle. Republicans aren’t just taking on Democrats in any election year. We’re also taking on the liberal mainstream media, Hollywood and the progressive elites of academia, all of which are experts at controlling the narrative and trying to define who we are instead of letting us speak for ourselves.

The biggest double standard that drives me insane is how the liberal media picks one controversial Republican to paint all Republicans but never does the same with controversial Democrats.

Let’s try some formal logic here. Anthony Weiner tweeted naked photos of himself. Anthony Weiner was a Democrat. Thus, all Democrats tweet naked photos of themselves, right? No? OK, Rod Blagojevich was a corrupt politician. Rod Blagojevich was a Democrat. Thus, all Democrats are corrupt politicians, right? Not fair you say?

How about this: Richard Mourdock believed God intended rape pregnancies. Richard Mourdock was a Republican. Thus, all Republicans believe God intended rape pregnancies, right? Absolutely, if you’re the liberal media! According to them, guys like Mourdock and Todd Akin speak for every Republican in America, not Mitt Romney or Reince Priebus.

It’s a double standard that will always be used against Republicans. I long for the day when one Democrat’s unbelievably idiotic statements on economics is met with as much emotional outrage as another Republican’s unbelievably idiotic statements on reproductive biology, but it probably won’t happen because math just isn’t as emotional in nature.

There’s a lot of garbage being taught in academia that we’re running up against as well, like higher tax rates lead to higher revenues and more government spending leads to economic recovery, despite every single fact of history and contemporary case studies proving otherwise. I have one friend graduating from Northwestern University who can’t stand going to class every night because, as he describes it, “It’s like listening to three straight hours of MSNBC.” He’s not even a Republican, but as he put it, “I’m the only f@#$%* centrist in the class. I brought a Chick-Fil-A lunch one day just to piss 'em all off.”

Then of course, you have guys like Jon Stewart, who was making jokes the day after the election like, “The good news is Romney won all the confederate states,” because of course, all Republicans are racist, sexist, homophobic members of the KKK from the Reconstruction Era. I’ve yet to find one Republican who’s actually said that by the way, but according to the far left, they’re out there somewhere. Obviously guys like Stewart, Colbert, and Maher have their audience, and they can say whatever they like. But what I’m saying is that if there are voters out there who get all their news from The Daily Show and Saturday Night Live, there isn’t much Republicans can do about that either.

Here’s what really disappointed me though in this election. On the one hand, the far left wants to paint Republicans as an “old white guy party.” Any person who doesn’t fit that mold and runs as a Republican anyway gets crucified by the left. And it broke my heart when I saw African American Republicans like Mia Love, Jewish American Republicans like Josh Mandel and openly gay Republicans like Richard Tisei lose all their races.

How many of you even knew about their candidacies? I bet you didn’t, because the Democrats want to maintain their stranglehold over any minority candidates while liberal media outlets like MSNBC intentionally go out of their way to cut out every single minority speech at the Republican National Convention. God forbid anything breaks the perpetuated image of all Republicans being old, white males.

So now let’s talk about what is in our control. Looking at the exit poll data, the noticeable demographics that Romney failed to win were blacks, Latinos, millennials, single women and self-described moderates.

I want to cover that last one first because it really blew my mind. Forget the false images perpetrated by the liberal media. When you look at the candidates’ records, Romney is a center right Republican and Obama is a far left Democrat (socially and economically) yet most self-described “moderates” went for Obama. Wow.

Two questions I wish I could ask these voters: 1) Where do you get your news from, and 2) Why do you describe yourself as a moderate?

A constant theme I kept hearing from self-described moderates that I interacted with personally was that they all hated the negative campaigning from both sides and wanted to see the candidates offer solutions rather than attacks.

On entitlement reform, Romney-Ryan proposed we advocate a premium-support system for Medicare that puts more power and decision-making responsibilities in the hands of the consumer instead of government bureaucrats, and that we turn Medicaid and food stamps into block grants that would give power back to the states. Obama-Biden proposed … nothing, and simply bashed the other plan.

On tax reform, Romney-Ryan proposed closing loopholes that allow for overseas tax shelters as well as eliminating special interest subsidies and capping deductions in order to collect revenue more efficiently while cutting tax rates across the board at the same time to incentivize businesses to keep money and jobs here instead of overseas, thus broadening the tax base, which is exactly what Obama's own bipartisan debt commission recommended. Obama-Biden proposed to simply “tax the rich more.”

On spending reform, Romney-Ryan proposed the Cut, Cap & Balance budget that cuts spending by $111 billion in fiscal year 2013 and capped total federal spending by creating a “glide path” that limits spending at 22.5% of GDP the following year, and gradually decreased spending levels until locking in at 19.9% of GDP. Obama and the Senate Democrats haven’t passed a budget in three years.

In fact, Obama-Biden really didn’t propose many solutions outside of taxing the rich. They mainly focused on killing Romney, yet most self-described “moderates” went for Obama. My guess is they were too busy being hammered with Akin and Mourdock by the media rather than listening to the Romney-Ryan solutions. I really wish I could talk with these self-described moderates to find out more.

As for millennials, they’ve traditionally always broken left, although I can’t figure out for the life of me why my age group continues to vote for a party that’s bankrupting our future and fast. Entitlements are gone in just 20 years. Most of us just seem to be accepting that fact instead listening to any ways to reform it. Democrats are letting baby boomers soak these benefits dry and passing off the leftover debt onto us while simultaneously failing to produce any jobs for us to pay it off even with college degrees. And yet we still break hard for Democrats because we care more about saving trees and legalizing pot than our own careers and safety nets. Republicans aren’t spending enough time explaining this to millennials.

As for single women, obviously not making dumb comments a la Akin and Mourdock is a no-brainer. While many understandably find those comments unbelievably sexist, what I also find sexist is telling women that they need government to “take care of them” from the womb to the tomb a la “Life of Julia.” Only a Democrat could sell a message of being “independent” by being dependent on government. Does that really make any sense?

Once Republicans can stop electing candidates who give ammunition to the Democrats to exploit pointless distractions and start electing Republicans who encourage female entrepreneurs and business leaders and explain how higher taxes mean less take home pay, I think we can really make up ground there too. And most importantly, bring them to the table. Ask women what the problems they’re facing in their lives and careers are, and explain how the free market and private sector success empowers them to truly be independent of men, both at home and in government.

And Republicans have ignored minority communities for far too long. The most alarming stat I saw in the exit poll data was Republicans losing Latinos. Bush won 44% of the Latino vote in 2004. Romney got just 27% in 2012. That’s going to kill us if we don’t reverse it. For God’s sake, Latinos are pro-family, very religious and hard working. They should be breaking hard for us. We should’ve beat the Democrats on comprehensive immigration reform. At least we’ve offered solutions on entitlements and balanced budgets where the Democrats failed to do either. But on immigration reform, both parties are guilty of inaction.

One thing I’ve noticed is that even governors from the ultra red state of Texas, including both George W. Bush and Rick Perry, have dismissed the idea of “building a wall and kicking them all out” as impractical and unrealistic. They’re right. We need to craft a path for citizenship for illegal immigrants and their families, especially those who go to college here or serve in our armed forces.

That doesn’t mean “granting amnesty for everyone.” Those who have committed criminal acts should be deported. But there are many hard working and upstanding Latinos that serve their communities outstandingly and shouldn’t have to live in fear of deportation from Republicans. I mean, this is a community just saturated with Republican values. If Bush could get almost half of them and Romney couldn’t, Bush must have been doing something right. As disappointing as all our other minority losses were this year, thank God we still have leaders like Marco Rubio, Susana Martinez, and now Ted Cruz to reach out to these communities and start carrying this message. We as a party better help them.

As for African Americans, that’s probably Republicans’ biggest challenge of them all. They overwhelmingly vote Democrat, despite the fact that all the Democratic Party has managed to do is keep these same impoverished communities who were dependent on government 50 years ago still dependent on government today.

Starting in my own backyard of Chicago, Republicans should be explaining to these communities that Democrats are putting unions first when it comes to education and selling out their children’s futures for teacher union votes. The Chicago Public School system is a system where teachers have the highest average salary in the nation for the shortest school day in the nation, where their graduation rate is barely half (55%), and where only 6 out of every 100 children in a system responsible for over 400,000 children will go on to earn a bachelor’s degree by the time they are 26. It is a system that is miserably failing the children of Chicago’s African-American communities, and it’s all because Democrats are putting union bosses first. Republicans need to champion the message of school choice and charter school results as the path to access to quality education for all students, regardless of what zip code they live in.

We also need to explain that free market principles, private sector solutions and small business/entrepreneurship is what brings prosperity and wealth back to these neighborhoods so that they don’t have to drive 20 miles away from home for well paying jobs or collect food stamps instead of pay checks. Once Republicans start reaching out to these demographics with these kinds of messages, I believe we’ll be winning elections again.

But what do I know? I’m just a journalist.

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