Expanding The Base

by Sal on November 14, 2012

in Election 2012,Politics

In the spirit of brainstorming, I’ve been thinking a lot over the past several days about the GOP’s need to reach out and expand the base.  This is being talked about by almost everyone in the GOP as well as those independents who align themselves with Conservatism/Libertarianism.  To many, it means watering down our views and abandoning social Conservatism in order to appeal to a portion of Independents and the Democratic Party who are economically conservative but socially liberal.  This would be a huge mistake.  Social conservatism makes up a huge portion of the GOP base, especially among Evangelical Christians.  What will happen to that portion of the electorate if the GOP abandons social conservatism?  They stay home.  The GOP cannot win without the evangelical vote, and alienating them would just be foolish. But then again, we are the stupid party, aren’t we?

The key to expanding the base is not alienating the base we already have.  It’s reaching out to new constituencies, not by changing our views, but by changing our message and building a coalition.  Elections are won by forging coalitions, not by everyone agreeing with a particular candidate 100%.  That means our message, not our principles, need to change to address different constituencies.   Paul Ryan yesterday said that the GOP lost the urban vote. I prefer this description than that of any racial description.  Demographics has far more to play into voting patterns than race.  If the GOP is to build a lasting coalition, it needs to find a way to bring its message to urban (and suburban) voters.  This encompasses both well off city dwellers and underprivileged ones.

The GOP has been portrayed (successfully, if incorrectly) as the party of the rich.  It needs to combat that image by speaking of the promise that this nation offers.  It needs to speak about how anyone can be successful in this country and how getting government out of the way is actually empowering.  And it needs to find new ways to do that.  I’m not saying I have all the answers (I’m not sure exactly how the message needs to be framed) but I do know that all of the talk of the nation suddenly being a nation of  leftist statists doesn’t do justice to the problem.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mike November 14, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Well said, Sal. For the record, I don’t think we are suddenly a leftist nation, but I fear (though I don’t know, not yet anyway) that we may have gradually become a left of center one. We still might be a right of center nation, but that is not certain at this point. We definitely were 8 years ago.

We know that the Republican share of the vote dropped this year, and that may be the result of social conservatives staying home. After all, Mitt didn’t talk about social issues. Imagine if he had articulated the leftist vision on social issues. Liberal-leaning voters still wouldn’t have voted for him and even more so-cons would have stayed home, and the race wouldn’t have been close.

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