The Republicans took a shellacking on Tuesday and they know it. Whether or not they make the proper changes is something the future of their party depends on.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) was clear about what happened to his party when he said, "It's a wake-up call. It's a wake-up call." He added, "We need to reach beyond our base without sacrificing our core values, and it can be done," according to Politico.
Questions are arising from within the party about where to go from here. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (D-West Va.) said about this election and the Republican's big loss: "It's a broader issue than women just being concerned about abortion. There's a concern that people in the Republican Party want to intervene in the choices women have," according to Politico.
Certainly, Republicans barring women from speaking on how pro-life legislation affected their bodies did not help their cause to "reach out" beyond their base -- it seems as if it hurt it.
And this issue put the Republican Party in a difficult spot in an election many thought would be close. With women, who represent represent 51 percent of the American population, they have now become a force within the electorate. With women increasingly becoming the breadwinners, more educated and obtaining leadership positions, parties are going to have to find a way to reach out to them in ways that the political process never had to.
Pro-life candidates such as Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock were voted out while women like Elizabeth Warren, Tammy Baldwin, Tammy Duckworth, Tuslsi Gabbard and Mazie Hirono were elected. These women represent 20 female senators -- the largest number in U.S. history -- and 77 U.S. representative, which is also a record high. Women took this election by storm.
Gov. Romney and the conservative movement suffered a major blow because they trailed the progressives when it came to support from women, Latinos and blacks. In a party that has typically focused more of their attention on the interest of white, middle-class men, the Republican Party is left to consider some serious rebranding.
Latinos are also increasingly becoming a big player in the political realm in ways the current Republican Party is not familiar with. Serious concerns still remain over immigration and the outright demonization of this group. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said of Latinos, "The conservative movement should have particular appeal to people in minority and immigrant communities who are trying to make it, and Republicans need to work harder than ever to communicate our beliefs to them."
Fox News pundit Bill O'Reilly said during Tuesday night's election results "the white establishment is now the minority." He added that the demographics are changing. "It's not traditional American anymore," he said.
Republican Party of Florida Chairman Lenny Curry said the party has to find ways to be relevant in diverse communities.
But it's not just about reaching out to more diverse groups while maintaining your core values. The Republicans have to be able to gauge the ideas of the country and its rapidly changing electorate. The Republicans are going to have to find a way to compromise and listen to the electorate instead of digging their feet in the sand and expressing their views on the electorate.
They'll have to do a better job of relating to Americans' concerns and drop the "eat your vegetables" way of looking at issues they are passionate about. They'll have to understand that these issues affect people at a personal level. Deportation, abortion, welfare and entitlements are issues that may bring their electorate to the polls, but they're also issues that have real consequences on real people's lives.
The GOP will also have to change the way they discuss sensitive issues, especially those that affect women. Virginia's implementation of unnecessary transvaginal ultrasounds, Todd Akin's remarks on "legitimate rape," Rush Limbaugh's dirty attacks on Sandra Fluke, Richard Mourdock's comments on God's intention for rape, Paul Ryan and the 113th Congress' push to defund Planned Parenthood, the GOP's push to repeal Obamacare -- a piece of legislation that gave women a chance to cover their medical costs as their bodies were no longer considered pre-existing conditions -- and a general stance on abortion that many women felt limited the choices they were able to make on their own bodies were issues that brought women to the polls to elect more progressive politicians.
Will Republicans listen to what an increasingly more powerful young, diverse and single-woman electorate is saying or will they continue "reach out" without "sacrificing" their core values?
There's been a lot of talk among GOP leaders to communicate their ideologies more effectively and to hit the ground game at new levels, but listening to the people's concerns will go a lot further. It's one thing to be able to communicate your ideology to people, but it's another thing to be able to listen to what they have to say.
American politics is not about telling the people what your beliefs are as an elected leader. It's about listening to the reasons the people elected you to represent them. After all, politicians work for the people. The people don't work for them.