It’s easy to look at the results of the 2016 Presidential election and the results for Congress, as a conservative, and believe that the Republican Party and American conservatism in general is in good stead. However, with closer analysis, nothing could be further from the truth. In the past I’ve referenced how the demographics won by Joe Biden in the primaries, despite being from the Democratic voter pool, display how Biden is a significant challenge to Trump regardless of the outward appearances of bumbling gaffes and uninspired platitudes. However, what makes the 2020 election so close is not just a problem with Donald Trump but a wider problem with the Republican Party and how they have positioned themselves, as well as the continued tactics they use to win elections. Currently standing, the Democrats have a number of incredibly significant advantages that American conservatives need to wake up to and fast.
A political pundit once said that demographics is destiny in elections, and there is a great amount of truth to that fact. Politicians don’t view voters as individuals, they are viewed in bubbled groups ripe for the taking. That’s frankly the reality in this world of identity politics, which is a game both the left and right are guilty of playing. If we view things from a demographic perspective, what was going for the Republicans in the 2014-2016 period is now slipping from their grip. This is due to the sea change happening as liberal voters become energised by a burning hatred of the President. Millennials and Gen Z voters, who are very Progressive, are voting more and more in Mid-Term and Special Elections which may not have a huge impact now but could in the future.
Additionally, there was a huge gap between the Democrats and Republicans in 2018 in terms of voter registration rolls with the Democrats significantly ahead – 12 million more were registered for the Democrats than their opponents that year. In fact, the 2018 midterms were closer to the overhyped predictions of a ‘Blue Wave’ than the President or conservatives are willing to admit. The Democrats easily flipped the House, won Arizona and almost won usually red states like Texas in the famous Senate race. In the gubernatorial elections, Republican wins like that of DeSantis in Florida were incredibly close. What this shows is that the Democrats have increasingly more going for them, while the opposite is true for the Republican Party. They rely on white voters in Trump’s base, lucrative district boundaries and other under the table tactics to win – all of which are short-term solutions.
It’s telling that they have lost the popular vote in six of the last seven presidential elections. If things don’t change, the Democrats will have a clean sweep election after election, and Trump will be the last victory for mainstream American conservatism. The more swing voters, moderates, minorities and older blue-collar Obama voters are alienated by the President’s rhetoric, the more dangerous things get for the Republicans.
Even if Trump pushes back and snatches victory from the jaws of defeat in 2020, this same problem won’t go away. The party has become so defensive of Trump and so engrained in his bombastic style of politics that the sensible conservatism we need in the face of the mob just isn’t there. Sensible conservative principles are what should be dampening the flames of the mob, not fanning those flames to create an even larger dumpster fire.
What then can the Republican Party do to save themselves from electoral reckoning? It’s a complex question to answer and it may take some time to fight back but I believe there are things that need to change. For starters, their next Presidential nominee has to be someone a good chunk of Trump’s base would support but also someone who can have grander appeal with the demographics Republicans don’t usually win. Nikki Haley, and her plethora of experience at the UN, and Senator Tim Scott who led the bipartisan effort on police reform (that the Democrats shot down out of ideological purity) both have tremendous potential to take their party in a healthier direction. Instead of attempting to maximise a waning base, it’s time for the party to be bolder and win what they think to be unwinnable both in Presidential and state elections. The party, especially with the Black Lives Matter chaos continuing, needs to be the voice of unity and sensible solutions while the Democrats continue to jump in bed with the radical fringes of the ‘Woke’ movement.
The party would also be vastly helped if it divorced or at least distanced itself from the evangelical wing. At its core, the Republicans are shedding moderates and becoming a tea party racket which is entirely synonymous with the era of Trump. Pledging tax cuts and small government as the answer to everything isn’t going to speak to struggling communities. While that should always encompass a part of the party platform in order for it to remain conservative, it’s not the main message they should be giving to voters. Helping left-behind industries the Democrats have had years to fix, tackling crime, fixing infrastructure, having a nominee that unifies the country – all these are directions that could transform the Republican Party into a party for the working class and pragmatic solutions. The Democrats have nothing to offer but exacerbating the culture war and allowing illegal immigration to continue unabated; their warped platform is going unchallenged simply because it’s opposed to Trump. The special interest, big business worshippers the Republicans have become is dragging the entire party into a deep decline and it needs to change tact as soon as possible.
Photo from Photo Catalog on Flickr.
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