Trying to convince Americans to vote against their own interests and rights is a difficult platform to promote for any political party. The 2012 presidential election was projected to be one of the tightest in history. But for the second time in the past four years, the GOP still couldn't hit water even if Mitt Romney fell out of a yacht. How Republicans will rebound in 2016 is the big question. Will it involve major policy shifts or will they merely repackage the same platform with the same rhetoric?
The economy dominated the election season. Both President Barack Obama and Governor Romney talked about job creation. Obama through strengthening the middle-class and Romney through tax breaks for the wealthy along with a vague five-point plan.
As The Economist put it, "Mr. Romney has an economic plan that works only if you don't believe most of what he says." The president chimed in with his attack on the Romney-Ryan plan, calling it a "sketchy deal."
A new plan for the economy should have been the GOP's bread and butter -- a perfect pathway into the hearts of the middle-class, which struggled mightily under President Obama. Essentially, the Republican Party offered nothing new. After the votes were counted and the dust settled, the Republican Party may have tanked with the economy and legacy left by George W. Bush.
Tea Party Republicans blamed Romney's loss on him being too moderate. In my opinion, if the Republicans move further to the right, what you end up with is another niche-focused third party struggling to acquire 50,000 votes to stay on the ballot.
As for repackaging the rhetoric, no one will be fooled. The policies will speak for themselves. For example, no matter how you express it, women will always reject carrying a pregnancy to term as a result of rape as being a part of God's plan.
Here are some highlights of two British newspapers, the Guardian and the Independent, as both might be able to put the outlook for the GOP into perspective:
• "The big lesson for Republicans is that extremism does not pay. Unless they quickly regain perspective and balance, the abyss beckons," Simon Tisdall, the Guardian.
• "Minorities are on the rise, and right now, the GOP has no idea how to appeal to them," Guy Adams, the Independent.
• "A change is overdue. Without it, Republicans will surely endure more nights like the one they suffered on Tuesday, when they gathered in a Boston ballroom for what was meant to be a victory party -- a glum, all-white group staring at a giant screen, watching TV pictures from Chicago of a crowd of beaming Democrats, young and old, black and white, celebrating a victory that tasted even sweeter the second time around," Jonathan Freedland, the Guardian.
The positive appeal of the GOP is dependent on looking toward the future to expand their base. Younger voters are noticeably more progressive and left-leaning -- this should be of grave concern for the GOP. 19 percent of voters in this past election ranged in age from 18-29 -- 60 percent of that total went for Obama while Romney held down 37 percent. Getting into college and finding a job after graduation are the two most important issues for this group and the GOP needs to focus on reaching that group with an economic plan that is mathematically sound.
Yes, the social issues are important like gay marriage and abortion -- but the number one concern Americans always have on their minds is the economy. If Republicans are hell-bent on lowering taxes on the middle class as well as closing loopholes and deductions for the wealthy -- then someone needs to figure out how to pay for the revenue lost with those changes. It also needs to be a plan that is specific and easy to explain--voters need to know what they are voting for not just because the candidate is a businessman.
A Republican renaissance has another four years to prepare itself. Riding the shoulders of Marco Rubio, a Florida senator and Latino-American, is a good start. But it can't end with just putting a minority candidate on the stump--it has to be backed up with policies that appeal to minorities. The GOP is looking at a smaller white canvas today than it was during the 1960s. When 2016 rolls around, the blank canvas needs to add some color and the size of it needs to expand as the American electorate diversifies.
The GOP might want to shore up its current base as well as expand it: