Four years of consistently high unemployment. Four years of economic stagnation. Four years of skyrocketing deficits. Four years of polarization. Four years of dissatisfaction.
Sounds like the perfect storm for a one-term president, does it not? The United States of America is no better off than it was four years ago. The 2012 election should have been an absolute smack-down reminiscent of 1980. After all, it takes Jimmy Carter to get Ronald Reagan. Yet that is not what happened. In an extremely difficult climate for the incumbent, the Republican ticket absolutely should have taken back the White House, and it should not have been close. Yet Mitt Romney was only able to pry away Indiana and North Carolina from President Obama’s 2008 winning coalition. The fact of the matter is that the 2012 general election, with Republicans failing to take back the White House, and even more pathetically failing to make gains in the Senate, was an abject failure for the GOP. If the party of Lincoln expects to remain a key player and a force for good in American politics, it needs to do some serious soul-searching. Now.
For starters, 1950 was a long time ago. The Leave It To Beaver nuclear family, as nice as it is, becomes more and more of a relic everyday. Republicans claim to be the party of family values, and they should embrace that. The issue is that families are changing, and Republicans need to change too. Polls already indicate that gay marriage is supported by a majority of Americans, and it is time to get on the right side of history. It is a civil rights issue, and the definition of marriage has changed many a time over the last two thousand or so years. Time to wake up. Maybe we can get finally get the brutal divorce rate in this country under 50%. Republicans need to strengthen the institutions of marriage and family by expanding them and shifting to a more libertarian stance. We support economic freedom; it is only slightly hypocritical not to do the same for social freedom.
Along those same lines, America’s demographic makeup is rapidly changing, and it is beyond time to acknowledge that and make some changes. Unfortunately, the party of the grumpy old white guy does not play too well with an increasingly diverse electorate. Hispanics have surpassed African-Americans as this country’s largest minority group, and Republicans have failed miserably to gain support in this up-for-grabs demographic. It is time to shift away from far right immigration policies, and to dissociate the party from foolish and borderline racist immigration laws like the one recently passed in Arizona. Sensible immigration reforms, which attract foreigners to our schools and give them incentives to stay here, will allow our economy to grow and keep the best and brightest within our own borders. The Hispanic question is the reason why, as promising a young star as Paul Ryan is within the GOP, he was the wrong choice for Romney’s running mate. How do you go against Senator Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American who is as true a fiscal conservative as it gets, young and charismatic, and speaks fluent Spanish? Especially when his home state of Florida is the one state Republicans absolutely had to win to have a chance at retaking the White House?
Moving forward, the Republican Party has to make legitimate changes to its structure and platform. It is 2012, and it feels like the Republicans have not even hit 2000 yet. Time to get with the times. The United States becomes more libertarian every day, with the founding spirits of freedom and individual liberty desired in both the fiscal and social realms. Such a shift does not involve sacrificing conservative principles at all. If the GOP is willing to move in a libertarian direction, and to make a genuine effort at changing its image to a younger, more diverse group, it can be the dominant party in American politics for the next century.
Embracing a Marco Rubio 2016 candidacy would be a great start.