WASHINGTON, March 25, 2013 ― The GOP’s Growth and Opportunity Project is being resisted by conservatives who are not now, and never have been comfortable with a Republican version of the “Big Tent.” This “Big Tent” risks inviting a wide spectrum of ideas, policy initiatives and beliefs into the party. The benefit is that the party ends up with a wider base of support and thus, at least in principle, is more competitive in national elections. The downside, from an ideology standpoint, is that defining yourself becomes very difficult. This is the heart of the Republican Party’s dilemma.
Democrats, with the help of the liberal media, have been able to define the Republican Party. We have heard that the Republican Party is the “party of no,” ”the party of the wealthy,” and so on. The media have also been able to tie various movement conservatives to the Republican Party. In this way it is much easier to demonize the party for the low information voter.
The Republican Party’s Growth and Opportunity Project attempts address this identity crisis.
One of the things that I learned in the past few years is that Republican is NOT synonymous with “conservative,” which given the differences between fiscal, social, and foreign-policy conservatives is not a precise term. The connection between Republicanism and rigid ideological consrvatism is purely media and candidate driven. One can be a Republican and be a free-thinker, which for many of us is the attraction of the Republican Party. It has made the Republican Party strong for a number of years. It is the understanding that there must be balance that has been the missing ingredient in the modern GOP’s efforts to expand its appeal.
For instance, the contrast and balance between Marco Rubio and Rand Paul is the essence of the future of a viable Republican Party. These two men span a divide between a party driven by ideological conservatism and one that celebrates individual liberty. They represent what so many conservatives and Republicans refuse to see; they fit together the missing pieces that are essential for winning national elections.
Rand Paul’s uncompromising, fiscally driven, freedom fueled, constitutional approach at governance harkens back to the founders, men of far-ranging intellectual curiosity who were fully ready to have knockdown, drag out arguments, if for no other reason to make a point.
For me, it was encouraging that someone would use the tool of the filibuster to force action from this White House. It doesn’t matter much whether we thinkg that his question was a good one or not. Here was a Republican taking a principled stance while attempting to define the party instead of allowing the definition to be written by the party’s detractors. It was also great watching the excitement on social media of Republicans and conservatives during the filibuster’s 13 hours. The Republicans have not generated that level excitement in a long time.
Marco Rubio’s approach is different. Rubio’s story bleeds “WE CARE!” Almost every time he gets the chance, he mentions his background. His story of growing up in a blue collar, hard-working family. Rubio wants people to know that he is just like them, and he understands and cares. He’s one answer to the question, do Republicans care about you? This is important because many voters pick candidates that they think care about people like them. It is impossible to ignore the human element in politics. We must understand, and master the art of the personification of policy.
With this all being the case, it is impossible for conservatives and Republicans to continue a myopic view of the current situation. The continued “purity” tests are not the way to thwart the increasing liberal, socialist push from the left. The belief that the only way forward is that we must be in a “lock-think” on every issue is antithetical to the Republican ideal of free thinking and freedom. What the Republican Party and, conservatives must do is have the ability to forge the best ideas, then make those ideas relevant to diverse communities. This effort must involve the entire spectrum of Republicans and conservatives.
Why? Because the demographics are changing.
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