5 things the GOP needs to do in order to survive

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Published by: Robert Laurie on Sunday January 27th, 2013

By ROBERT LAURIE – A response to Governor Jindal

Last week, Bobby Jindal gave us his 7 things the GOP needed to do if it wanted to win another election.  While I didn’t necessarily disagree with Jindal’s bullet points, they weren’t really what I wanted to hear. There was too much focus on the kind of wishy-washy language we’ve been handed for the last ten years, and not enough attention paid to the Constitution or the realities within the party.

In short, while it wasn’t wrong, per se, it read like the GOP-elite version of a party roadmap.

So here’s my list, which I envision working in conjunction with Jindal’s.

5 Things the GOP needs to do if it hopes to survive.

5. Stop conceding defeat before the fight starts

In 1988, George H.W. Bush became the last Republican to win California. This may have something to do with the fact that he was the last GOP candidate to make any sort of serious attempt to do so.

In the 90’s, as the Republican Party shifted to its current Rove-style electioneering, it decided not to “waste” money on places where it “couldn’t” succeed.  So, instead of waging long-term battles for difficult states, it pulled back, and focused its cash elsewhere.

The cumulative effect was to give Democrats unfettered access to some of the nation’s most lucrative electoral states for a staggering 25 years. Secure in the knowledge that their rivals wouldn’t bring the fight to the left coast; the Democrats were able to focus their cash on swing states and previous GOP strongholds.  Slowly but surely, this allowed them to chip away at the Republican safety net.

The GOP strategy managed – just barely – to win two Presidential elections.  It’s doubtful that it will work again. Yet for many within the party, the Rove model is still a sacred cow.

Republicans must do away with the notion that it can ignore vast areas of the country and still eke out narrow-margin victories.

They must begin fighting in places they’ve previously assumed were lost, and they have to do so with a long term strategy in mind.  They probably won’t be able to make this work by 2016, but if the party is to exist beyond that, they’d better be prepared.

No one gets into Harvard if they only apply to their “safety schools.”

4. Trust your base

Stop foisting candidates like Bob Dole, John McCain, and even Mitt Romney upon your electorate.  There was heavy conservative resistance to all three of these guys, and all three went down in flames. For some reason, the GOP brass thinks it can turn a nominee into a winner despite the fact that he or she is incapable of exciting the party-faithful.

Romney lost because 3 million registered Republicans stayed home.

The party had better learn a lesson from that.

3. Use the media

It’s time to stop whining about how the left controls the mainstream media.  There’s nothing new here.  Liberals have owned the press since Edward R. Murrow was covering the London air raids.  They controlled it when Cronkite went to Viet Nam, and they ran things when Dan Rather went to Iraq.

There is absolutely no reason to think it will change any time soon.

Unfortunately, when faced with a liberal press, most modern Republicans have decided to cower in fear.  In reality, the political persuasion of the press shouldn’t matter.  You will never convince them, but you can still use them.

If the GOP needs a lesson in this, it should look no further than Ronald Reagan.

The Gipper was utterly, completely, despised by the media, but he still managed to deftly control it and even bend it to his own political ends.

Stop complaining, and start maneuvering.

2. Take back the language

This is step one in battling media bias. 

Republicans should have been talking about how Obama was set to implement one of the biggest tax increases in history; instead, they talked about the “fiscal cliff.”

Republicans should have been talking about an anti-constitutional President who was destroying freedom by passing a law that would allow the Government to force citizens to purchase products from private corporations.  Instead we had “Obamacare” - a word so benign that the President was able to take control of it and turn it into a positive during his second campaign.

Republicans should be talking about Obama’s attempt to dismantle the 2nd Amendment; instead they’re talking about the misnomer of “Assault Weapons.”

Republicans should be talking about the smallest workforce in 30 years.  Instead, they’re discussing “unemployment less than 8%.”

It’s time to stop letting the Democrats control the language and, thus, the narrative.  Every time a reporter uses the left wing lingo, Republicans have to correct them.

Every. Single. Time.

1.  Fight for the Constitution you claim to love

For whatever reason, GOP candidates seem to love the Constitution - until they’re elected.  Things like the Patriot act, the creation of the TSA, and the constant overreach of the Department of Homeland Security are all black stains on the Republican record.

Similarly, there is no legitimate Constitutional authority for auto and bank bailouts.  No private business is “too big to fail.”

The GOP needs to admit that it went too far. Yes we were attacked on 9/11, and yes, it was horrible beyond words.

 Sorry, but that’s not a good reason to ignore the Bill of Rights.

The GOP is supposed to be the party of small government, and it needs to start acting like it.  At the moment, most Republican politicians seem to be content to be Democrat-lite.  The party has failed, miserably, to offer real alternatives to the left’s constant expansion of federal powers.

At best, the Republican Party has tried to slow the growth.  Usually, it helps with the acceleration.

Mostly, this has been done by implementing schemes which have little or no constitutional justification. We need to remember, if it’s not specifically delegated to the feds, it’s a state’s right.  End of story.

Yes, this means some of the social-conservative ideals may have to take a back seat.  Get over it. Battles about morality can still be waged at the state and local levels, but federally, the 10th Amendment needs to guide the GOP.

If not, the party will find itself creating and expanding the kind of massive, centralized, government it claims to despise.  In terms of winning elections, why should anyone vote for a GOP President if all they’re getting is a watered down version of the opposition?

It’s easy to fight for the 1st and 2nd Amendments. Now it’s time to fight for the rest of our founding document.


That’s my personal prescription for the GOP.  Let us know what you guys think.

Be sure to follow Robert Laurie on Twitter @RobertLaurie