A New Era?: What the Republican Party Should Do Next

As heartbreaking as November’s election was, Republicans do not have to sulk and begin the long wait for 2016. President Obama’s first term, while not successful by any means, offered a few glimpses of hope that have the potential to make his second term bearable for Republicans, and perhaps could even be seen in a positive light. Most importantly, the Republican loss in the presidential election showed exactly what changes need to be made within the GOP in order to return to dominance in the political sphere.

First and foremost, President Obama has made evident the changing landscape of the political scene. He utilized an image that relates to the common citizen and appealed to younger crowds. The Republican Party is notoriously horrible at this, and ultimately, it may have been this lack of ability to connect to a wider audience that cost them the election. The president has shown that the young voters of this country don’t just want, but need, a president who they believe they can relate to. While the combination of Romney and Ryan on a ticket appealed greatly to wealthy older voters because of their combined mastery of economics and finance, their personalities just weren’t that “likable.” And fortunately for the GOP, there are few potential Democratic choices for president in 2016 that offer the same charisma and poise that Obama did, and as he showed in both the 2008 and 2012 elections, this appeal and likability can go a long way.

Furthermore, President Obama has shown that the popular social issues have begun to take on as much precedence and importance as the current financial issues. Young voters care much more than their older counterparts about freedoms for all citizens, most notably in terms of marriage and women’s equality. Obama was able to win because he gave voters these freedoms as much as he could. While Republicans don’t necessarily have to give in to all these issues and abandon their platform completely, this past election showed that it may be time to inch towards a moderate position on social issues and drift away from complete social conservatism. If the Republicans don’t make some changes, it will be a long time before they enter the White House again.

These changes in the GOP should come into effect long before 2016. Republicans in the Senate and House can begin to work with President Obama to develop a working health care plan, to instigate economic change, and to bring our country back to a global seat of power. It may require a shift towards bipartisanship and ultimately away from “ideologically pure”  principles, but it is a necessary move if the Republicans hope to regain power within American politics. Obama has laid out what he wants to do, and if the Republicans can show that they are willing to work with him constructively, they can begin the process of setting up a 2016 election that features a Republican candidate that accurately represents the ideals and values of the common American citizen.

-Patrick Delaney is a junior in the College of Arts and Science. He can be reached at patrick.c.delaney@vanderbilt.edu.


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