The current direction of the Republican Party is set to doom it as legitimate, competitive political party. Instead of modernizing its political platform to fit the changing social views of society, it is regressing and becoming even more right-wing. In order to appeal to a wider range of citizens, the party needs to make two vital reforms: appeal to the younger generation by adopting more moderate social stances that fit the changing times, and disassociate with the Tea Party and very conservative media outlets.
When the Republican Party chose John McCain as its Presidential candidate in 2008, it alienated many people younger than thirty years old, especially college students. In the 2008 election, over 65% of the votes cast by adults under thirty were for President Barack Obama. Barack Obama was viewed as younger and more energetic than John McCain. Furthermore, because John McCain was so much older than this young demographic, he was an unrelatable Presidential candidate. This has continuously been a problem for the Republican Party; it has been regarded as an old, white, male-dominated political party.
Furthermore, its staunch stances on social issues has alienated the progressive, more liberal-minded younger generation. In order for the Republican Party to appeal to a younger demographic, it must reform its stances on social issues to mimic changing cultural norms. While the Republican Party should still promote a fiscally conservative agenda, it needs to align with a much more moderate approach to social issues. In general, this seems to be the growing trend amongst most of the United States population, especially younger voters. Issues such as the right to an abortion and gay marriage are overwhelmingly endorsed by this younger generation, yet Republican politicians refuse to modify their stance on social issues. If the Republican Party wants to win the 2012 Presidential election, it needs to reform its social platform to be more moderate and appeal to a wider range of demographics.
The unexpected growth of the Tea Party has also negatively affected the Republican Party, associating conservative politicians with a political movement that is perceived as “crazy” and “radical.” It would be most beneficial to the Republican Party if either the Tea Party became its own political party, or if the Republican Party publicly disassociated itself from the Tea Party. The most notable politicians associated with this movement are Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin. The viewpoints and actions of these two women, along with many other members of the Tea Party, are negatively impacting the entire image of the Republican Party.
Along with the Tea Party movement, certain extremely conservative media outlets continue to promote the idea of a fixed, rigid, unchangeable Republican Party. Rush Limbaugh is so extremely far to the right that he is easily mocked and ridiculed. The inability of Rush Limbaugh, and a variety of other conservative commentators and reporters, to view both sides of a political issue has made the Republican Party an easy target from both moderate and liberal media outlets. It makes the Republican Party appear as if it is a narrow-minded, bigoted group of individuals. While these conservative media outlets should not totally reform their stance on political issues, it would be beneficial for them to at least acknowledge that these political issues are multi-faceted. If the Republican Party wants to be a viable contender during the 2012 Presidential Elections, the conservative media outlets need to appear more open-minded to the United States general population.
The Republican Party needs to reform itself to be a viable contender and opponent to challenge the Democratic Party in the 2012 Presidential Elections. Specifically, it needs to become more socially moderate, reflecting changing societal viewpoints towards abortion and gay marriage. Each generation continues to become more socially liberal while the Republican Party continues to become more conservative and further from the center. Furthermore, the Republican Party needs to disassociate itself from the Tea Party and the negative publicity connected to the Tea Party. Lastly, the ultra-conservative media outlets are not promoting the Republican Party to the general public; they are furthering the general sentiments by the United States general population that Republicans are old, closed-minded, bigoted politicians. While I am hopeful that the Republican Party can be a competitive option for the 2012 Presidential Elections, I am afraid that the Republican Party will not start reforming until it is too late.