After Republican state and legislative candidates blew the barn doors off in the recent election, a call for the Party of Lincoln and Reagan to reassess its priorities may seem unnecessary.
However, the national GOP does not have enough deep red states like West Virginia, as Joe Biden’s victory clearly shows.
Republicans must work now to broaden their party’s appeal, particularly to growing subsets of voters like suburban women, minorities and young voters.
President Trump was famous for stoking his base. A resulting plurality vote might work in a multi-party system, say, like Italy’s. But not in a predominantly two-party system, where each party is strong enough to take the other out at the next election.
This is the system America has had more or less since our founding. The bad news about a two-party system is that a voter’s choices are limited. The good news is that the party in power is held accountable and can be swiftly challenged.
So should the national GOP, with whatever influence it has at the state level, cave on its principles in order to chase some millennial votes?
By no means. The Republicans need not be “Democratic-lite.” However, they do need persuasive representatives to fan out and illustrate the continued relevance of their timeless message.
Lower taxes, less government and a strong national defense can still have great appeal to a broad cross-section of Americans, regardless of ethnicity or income level.
However, Republicans need the fervor of late Secretary for Housing and Urban Development Jack Kemp for interpreting conservative economic principles to different groups outside the GOP’s base.
In recent presidential elections, the swing voters have been shouting their demands for anyone with ears to hear. They simply want results — economic results.
They are eager to hear from anyone, regardless of their party, who has a plan for developing more and better jobs in a changing economy.
This explains the otherwise baffling phenomenon of many American voters who voted for Obama, then Trump. Now some of those same voters appear to have come back to the Democratic Party in states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
But the Democrats are on notice: such pragmatic voters will feel free to go shopping around again in 2022 and 2024 if the Biden Administration and Democratic governors do not help to produce the desired results of more and better jobs.
However, national demographics strongly suggest that the Republicans can only capitalize on Democratic failures if they first plow new ground with women, minority and younger voters.
Why any true believer in conservative policies would not want to preach that political gospel with fervor to everybody is a mystery.
When a party has as part of its historic brand the principle of stimulating the economy by giving taxpayers more of their own paycheck to save or spend, its future is always potentially bright.
The fault for not realizing that bright future will not be attributable to tried and true conservative economic principles.
Rather, the the blame will fall squarely on those Republicans who fail to reach out to others, interpreting how those principles benefit them, as well.