In recent days, abortion, marriage equality, and partisanship have made headlines in U.S. politics. Having lost two Presidential elections, seats in congress, and obtaining a dismal 39 percent approval rating, what can Republicans do to change the tide?
Here’s three ideas.
Change the abortion debate
Just yesterday, the House of Representatives, controlled by Republicans (GOP), passed a sweeping bill to further restrict when a woman can have an abortion.
Passing the bill is equivalent to the incessant 37 times the Republican-led Congress voted to overturn the Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare), in that it aids reelection efforts as congressional members return to their constituents to say, “look what I’ve voted for/against,” but does nothing more.
The bill is not likely to be touched by the Senate, and would surely be vetoed if it reached the President’s desk.
Republicans could accept Roe v. Wade to be the legal end of the issue, but not the end of the abortion debate. Rather than taking away what the Supreme Court has deemed a constitutional right, they should campaign to change the hearts and minds of Americans.
Here’s one way.
Introduce a bill (with new aid) that bolsters adoption, pushes for stronger and more diverse families, promotes foster care and big brother/sister programs, and adds more access to services that prevent unwanted pregnancy. Take steps to reduce abortions by empowering women, not restricting them.
Instead, many Republicans call for a cut to such social programs, look for ways to prevent certain families from adopting, and consider the only good family to be one with a mother and father in the same household.
A shift in this policy would help garner independent voters who overwhelmingly support Roe v. Wade.
Flip on gay marriage
Today, Republican Senator Murkowski became the third GOP member of Congress to support same sex marriage, signaling a (small) fracture in the once unified stance against the issue. Virtually every poll shows that the tide is going in the same direction that Senator Murkowski is going.
More and more people see this as a civil rights issue, and studies show that the next generation of voters overwhelming support same-sex marriage.
Supporting marriage equality gives Republicans a chance to return to their roots as a “more freedoms/less government” party and more importantly, it gives the GOP a chance to garner attention from younger voters, something they have not been good at since President Reagan.
Sideline social conservatism
…and beef up fundamental Republicanism.
In the recent past, Republicans have used words like “legitimate rape” and “wetbacks,” even comparing gay marriage to the September 11 terrorist attack. It should be a forgone conclusion that things like this turn off all but the most conservative, and this is not a nation solely made of conservatives.
Social conservatism was not always synonymous with the Republican party; just ask President Lincoln. Author Richard Buel in fact described the ideology as one that enforces the unalienable rights of American citizens.
When a vast majority of American’s believe LGBT couples should have the right to marriage, and the Republican party says it is government’s responsibility to deny that right, it signals a dramatic shift off its’ foundation. Abandoning the restrictive social issues, and focusing on the needs of Americans is a fundamental change necessary to garner independent and even democratic votes.
A recent poll showed that more Democrats favor New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Cristie then Republicans. In fact, Cristie, the well-liked Republican in a mostly Democratic state, garners 40 percent of Republicans, 41 percent of Independents, and 43 percent of Democrats, highlighting the true opportunity for the Republican party to return to power.
Partisanship will empower your base, frivolous votes may help reelection, but in the long run, the social issues will bog down the Republican Party until the can find a way to paint the issues a different way.