All the Dead Elephants: The Future of the Republican Party

In his critically acclaimed album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy , Kanye West aptly described the plight of today’s Republican Party. “Too many Urkels-thats why you win low” plagued the G.O.P in 2012, with a ragtag bunch of Steve Urkels fighting for the prize of facing President Obama in the fall. Facing the likes of Perry, Bachmann, Gingrich, Roemer, Cain, Roemer and Johnson, one wonders why the Urkel-est of them all, Governor Romney, didn’t walk off the paint with a Wilt-Chamberlaine-esque performance. There are a number of problems that plague the G.O.P, not least of which a demographics boom of minorities, increasingly liberal positions by the younger electorate on social issues, and the decline of people living in rural areas. Putting it bluntly, conservative white males are making up less of the American social fabric Snide comments aside, the omnishambles of the Republican Party have prompted a serious internal discussion of which course the G.O.P should take in the future. With today’s Republican party more in lockstep than ever before, debate has not focused on the general ideological direction of the party The extinction of the moderate-even progressive-wing of the party (in the likes of Teddy, Dwight, Nelson, George Herbert, and Jon) has made the question instead of whether to pursue demographic groups or not. Firstly, immigrants. Many Republican leaders, especially Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, have stated their wish that the party go after Hispanics and Latinos with a combination of less strident anti-immigrant rhetoric and social conservatism. They contend that a more lenient line on immigration coupled with a focus on hard work and traditional values will be enough to sway the growing demographic group. This is absurd, in my mind. I doubt that one of the poorest communities in the United States will become conservatives overnight . I don’t see migrant and industrial workers linking arms with farm and factory owners. And this same heavily religious community, while socially conservative, would be improbable to suddenly reject social justice and sign up with the party of austerity. The same thing is true for the party’s efforts to go after young people. A party which has discussed eliminating the Department of Education, opposes mandatory coverage for birth control, supports bans on same-sex marriage and has a foreign policy based chiefly on war does not line up with many of the economic priorities and social values of the youth. Congressman Steve King, in his appearance at a public school, decried the federal government’s recent involvement in college loans. He described the fed’s decision to roughly nationalize a student loans program as socialism. I suppose Congressman King thinks firefighters are government workers. Finally, women. The gender gap between the Democrats and Republicans continued to expand in 2012. Women chose President Obama over Mitt Romney in Tuesday’s election, 55-44 percent. This was narrowly larger than the 56-43 margin in 2008. With opposition to the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, public funding for Planned Parenthood, opposition to the ERA historically and the Violence against Women Act, it too seems improbable that the Republican Party will be able to do the acrobatics necessary to convince women that conservatives deserve their votes. This is not to say that voting is done by a checklist of policies. Far from it in fact, voting is done for a variety of reasons. However, the Republican Party faces a grave choice between dropping-or at least reforming-policy positions or consigning themselves a place next to the Reform and Whig parties in the electoral graveyard.