Since the 2012 presidential election, Republicans have been spending a lot of time trying to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it. Unfortunately, their actions suggest they still don’t get it.
A recent Fox News interview with Mitt Romney and his wife Ann give some insight into the thought processes of many top Republican leaders. “We weren’t effective taking our message to minority voters,” Mitt said in assessing his loss. But the reality is Romney’s message was received loud and clear (thanks to nearly $500 million in campaign spending). Minorities didn’t like what they heard.
And when Ann reflected on how she felt when they realized they had lost, she said: “It was a crushing disappointment. Not for us. Our lives are going to be fine. It’s for the country.” Because Ann can’t comprehend how anyone could view things differently. How could anyone not want the America that Mitt Romney envisioned?
The Romneys’ statements represent the core of the problem: The Republican message doesn’t resonate with enough Americans. But rather than accepting this lesson they continue to insist it’s just an image problem.
So when a black man beats them for the President of the United States of America, they go out and hire a black man to run the party. When women flock to the Democrat Party Republicans tap a women for vice president. And when they lose the Hispanic vote they thrust one of the few Hispanic voices in their party, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, into the spotlight.
While the attempt to increase diversity in the Republican Party is a welcome sight, the message never changed. Having a black man as the head of the RNC didn’t change the belief among Republicans that blacks were takers. Having a woman as the veep candidate didn’t stop the onslaught of attacks on women’s rights. And pushing a Hispanic senator to the fore hasn’t changed the overall Republican opposition to immigration reform.
Right now the Republican fix to their falling popularity is putting lipstick on the pig.
Picking minorities whose views are out of step with most voters in their demographic will not make Republicans more attractive to these voters.
But there is good news: The answer to the Republican problem can be found in the teachings of Ronald Reagan. While many in the Republican Party claim to idolize the former president, they seem to forget that his greatest accomplishment wasn’t his policy but his accessibility.
If Republicans truly understood this lesson they would invite New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to be the key note speaker at CPAC instead of ostracizing him. They would also drop the moniker RINO since it only further constricts the party’s reach. As Jeb Bush and Michael Reagan both pointed out recently, Ronald Reagan would be too moderate for today’s Republican Party.
That should be a giant red flag.
What Republicans need to do now is Febreze the old man smell out of their Congressional chambers and moderate. Keeping the same stand-for-nothing legislators in place while the base pulls the Republican Party further to the right only assures further failure.