Bret Stephens wrote an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal titled “Earth to GOP: Get a Grip.” Stephens is one of a long list of critics who is suggesting that Republicans must make changes to remain relevant in American politics.
I stated in an earlier essay that the GOP has lost its way by kowtowing to the most radical elements in its ranks. It is particularly disturbing that this group made it impossible for Mitt Romney to unseat a very beatable incumbent.
Stephens wrote several memorable things in his essay that the GOP should embrace. Here are nine observations that Republican leaders should factor into their thinking as they begin the next election cycle:
1. Obama was vulnerable: if voters could be assured that his opponent would not initiate a similar political fiasco as we have witnessed during the past four years. Romney was not able to do so. And so, voters stayed with the incumbent. The importance of Obama’s victory in the face of adversity should not be understated. Remember economic conditions did not improve under Obama, gasoline prices are a multiple of what they were when the president began his first term, poverty is much greater as measured by food stamps usage, and unemployment has remained at unprecedented levels.
2. Conservatives should stop: “obsessing about what other adults might be doing in their bedrooms.” If their activities are lawful and consensual, impinging on these people is “socially uncouth [and] politically counterproductive . . .” The GOP is supposed to be the party of small and less intrusive government. Yet, it has legions of busybodies who peak into their neighbors’ homes.
3. Conservatives need to: “tone down the abortion extremism.” Opposition to abortion in cases of rape and incest is unacceptable to a majority of Americans. The GOP lost an incredible number of votes because a few in the party convinced many women that Republicans as a party espouse such a radical perspective.
4. “Bilingualism is an intelligent virtue: not a deviant sexual practice.” Stephens’ metaphor is pretty far out, but his point is clear. Children who learn both Spanish and English growing up will be better for it. Certainly, English needs to be taught in schools for the benefit of students who will eventually enter a work force that communicates mostly in English. But, this is not an issue that Republicans should be clamoring about, as it will only alienate Hispanics who are pretty alienated already.
5. The GOP base should demand: that congressional candidates take IQ tests. “There were at least five Senate seats that might have been occupied by a Republican come January had not the invincible stupidity of the candidates stood in the way.” I am sure Stephens’ comment was made tongue in cheek. Yet, candidates really should be vetted to determine whether they have deep and dark opinions that will surface during an election and assure their defeat.
6. Demonizing Latin American immigrants is a very bad political strategy: as the group continues to grow rapidly and is more politically astute during each succeeding election. Prop 187 in California, which was passed in 1994 and later declared unconstitutional, was a screening system directed at Hispanics. It also prohibited illegal aliens from using public services. This initiative marked the end of a meaningful GOP presence in the state. In spite of this unfortunate episode, Republicans are going down the same course nationally.
7. “If the argument is that illegal immigrants are overtaxing the welfare system: then that’s an argument for paring back the welfare state, not deporting 12 million people.” Also, illegals take jobs in the country, but who wants to be a maid or a crop worker anyway. Immigration reform is the next major issue that the federal government must deal with. The political power of Hispanics will ultimately result in a road map to citizenship based upon certain reasonable criteria.
8. “Running for president should be undertaken only by those with a reasonable chance of winning a general election.” It should not be a career path leading to a “gig” on Fox News. If a candidate gets trounced in a presidential primary why is he or she an ideal person to advise the country as a talking head?
9. A Romney victory would have hurt the GOP in the long run: because he would have been “politically cautious” and “ideologically defensive.” The GOP needs candidates with strong convictions about the most controversial issues.
Stephen makes some wise observations that Republicans should take to heart if they hope to remain a viable political party in America.