In yet another sign that the Republican Party is clueless as to why it lost the 2012 Presidential Election, a new post-election analysis, ironically named, “Growth and Opportunity Project,” was released today by the Republican National Committee. The report was apparently compiled in response to the drubbing that the Republicans received in national elections (President and Senate) last Fall. According to Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, “When Republicans lost in November, it was a wakeup call. From a quick perusal of the report, it would appear that Republicans are still asleep. If they believe that implementing the recommendations in this report will lead to a revitalization of the GOP and a return to the White House and majority status in the Senate, the powers-that-be are sadly mistaken.
The “Growth and Opportunity Project’s” philosophy can be summed up in the following statement:
Instead of driving around in circles on an ideological cul-de-sac, we need a Party whose brand of conservatism invites and inspires new people to visit us. We need to remain America’s conservative alternative to big-government, redistribution-to-extremes liberalism, while building a route into our Party that a non-traditional Republican will want to travel. Our standard should not be universal purity; it should be a more welcoming conservatism. (Introduction to Messaging, page 7 of the Report)
This whole statement begs the question: “Who is driving around in circles on an ideological cul-de-sac and what are the these so-called ideological cul-de-sacs anyway?” From a reading of the report, it becomes clear that social conservatives are the ones who need to be placed in the back of the bus and told that “intolerant” discussion on issues like immigration reform and gay rights will no longer be tolerated. Make no mistake — Senator Rob Portman’s recent announcement supporting same-sex marriage is just the beginning of a seismic shift within the Republican Party on this issue.
It should come as no surprise that “welcoming” language, often used by many local Methodist churches (Sen. Portman, perhaps not coincidentally, is also a Methodist), has been included in the report. And, when “welcoming” language is used in relation to gay rights and same-sex marriage, it really means “affirming” as well. In a section of the report entitled, “America Looks Different,” the third recommendation that was proposed is:
3. When it comes to social issues, the Party must in fact and deed be inclusive and welcoming. If we are not, we will limit our ability to attract young people and others, including many women, who agree with us on some but not all issues.” (America Looks Different, page 10 of the Report)
What does this recommendation mean for the Republican Party’s position on traditional marriage? It means that, having stuck a finger in the wind, that the Growth and Opportunity Party (as they now want to be known instead of the Grand Old Party) will embrace the agenda of younger generations, particularly on the issues of gay marriage and gay rights, by the time the next Presidential election rolls around in 2016. If social conservatives — including many conservative Christians — want to remain on the GOP bus, they will be welcomed as long as they get with the new program of including and welcoming the new position on “diversity.”
For the GOP to appeal to younger voters, we do not have to agree on every issue, but we do need to make sure young people do not see the Party as totally intolerant of alternative points of view. Already, there is a generational difference within the conservative movement about issues involving the treatment and the rights of gays — and for many younger voters, these issues are a gateway into whether the Party is a place they want to be.If our Party is not welcoming and inclusive, young people and increasingly other voters will continue to tune us out. The Party should be proud of its conservative principles, but just because someone disagrees with us on 20 percent of the issues, that does not mean we cannot come together on the rest of the issues where we do agree. (America Looks Different, page 10 of the Report)