Let’s be frank. The election last November was a huge disappointment to Republicans across the country. Mitt Romney lost (even though I believe he would have been a far superior President to the current occupant of the White House.) Not only did Republicans fail to win back the United States Senate, but we actually lost two seats. The only bright spot at the federal level was that we kept control of the House of Representatives, (thus keeping Nancy Pelosi out of the Speaker’s chair,) although we did suffer a net loss of eight House seats. (Of course all of this pales in comparison to the fact that we were able to hold onto the First Congressional District of Ohio – sorry, I couldn’t resist saying that!)
Anyway, as often happens when one party or the other has a particularly bad year at the polls, a lot of self-examination is taking place. You want to find out what went wrong, and what you can do to turn things around the next time.
The Republican high poobahs formed a task force which, according to their just-released report, conducted 3,000+ “group listening sessions,” did extensive polling of women and Hispanics, participated in 800+ conference calls, conducted 50+ “focus groups,” and contacted 52,000 people altogether. (They were determined to leave no stone unturned.)
The 100 page report issued by the Republican National Committee (RNC) was called the “Growth and Opportunity Project” and made a number of findings, came to a number of conclusions, and made a series of recommendations.
For example, according to the report, some voters (who had left the Republican Party) said they find the party “scary, narrow-minded, out-of-touch,” and the party of “stuffy old men.” One focus group participant said the Republican Party needs to “catch up with the times.”
At another place in the report, there is criticism that the Republican Party is “too ideologically rigid,” still “clings to the days of Ronald Reagan,” and is viewed by many voters as being “indifferent to the struggles of average people.” The report further notes that “instead of connecting with voters’ concerns, we too often sound like bookkeepers.” And there is criticism that the Republican Party “preaches to the choir instead of appealing to potential converts.”
There were further criticisms, but in the interests of time, I’ll stop there.
Now to some concrete recommendations made in the report, as to how we can increase the possibility of Republican success in the future. First of all, the Republican Presidential primary season was too long and too unwieldy. Instead of 23 primary debates extending over months and months, during which the candidates were engaged in slicing and dicing each other up, rather than focusing on the deficiencies of the Obama Administration, the number of debates should, according to the report, be reduced by about half, to 10-12.
Further, the GOP National Convention should be moved up from August to June or July in order to give the ultimate Republican nominee more time to shift the focus of his or her attention away from the alleged deficiencies of his Republican primary opponents, and onto his Democratic opponent, and why he or she is a better alternative.
Now a few of the recommendations don’t sit well with me. For one thing, the report recommends that Republicans embrace “comprehensive immigration reform” i.e. amnesty. And another recommendation is that the Republican Party be “inclusive and welcoming on social issues.” To me that sounds a whole lot like accepting things like gay marriage, and being more liberal on abortion. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a great way to alienate a lot of our base who are still with us. Big mistake.
Finally, there are recommendations about dramatically improving our social network outreach, and grassroots activities. I wholeheartedly support this effort. We got our clocks cleaned by the Democrats in the ground game last time. We’ve GOT to get better in these areas next time around, or we’ll lose again.
Anyway, those are my thoughts about the report on the RNC’s Growth and Opportunity Project. And, in my opinion, yes, the Republican Party CAN be saved.