In a detailed, scathingly honest report on its own failures in the 2012 election, Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus presented a program to address some of the party’s biggest shortcomings. They include:
- Improving outreach to African Americans, Hispanics, Asian Americans and other minorities, as well as the majority of voters—women—and youth.
- Training Republican candidates about “the importance of developing and tailoring a message that is non-inflammatory and inclusive to all” as part of “a more welcoming conservatism.” (Sound familiar?)
- Beefing up the party’s new media and technology ground game and hire a chief technology and digital officer.
- Addressing policy issues that have made Republicans uncompetitive with key groups in the electorate.
These recommendations are pretty impressive in their scope and even if everything goes as planned, they will take more than one election cycle to carry out.
The problem with the Republican Party, though, is not really the ground game or the technology. It’s not the fund raisers or consultants, as conservative columnist Byron York pointed out. It’s not even the candidates.
No, the reason the GOP had problems winning in 2012 and will continue to struggle is the angry, radicalized Republican primary voters that comprise its base.
We’ve written about this many times, but few mainstream media outlets have the guts to say it: Too many Republican voters, primarily older white voters, have simply gone off the deep end and have effective veto power over the party’s candidates, making it more difficult for GOP nominees to win general elections.
The proposals described above are aimed at broadening the party’s base and watering down extremists’ influence.
But the RNC also wants to vitiate the destructive power of debates, overhaul the primary season and have an early convention—in late June or July. That would prevent no-hope candidates (like, say, Rick Santorum) from dragging out the the race and damaging the likely nominee in the general election.
The report recommends halving the number of debates (to less than a dozen) and keeping them under the control of the party, not independent groups. The fewer opportunities they give to angry spectators to shout “let ‘em die,” boo gay veterans or tell immigrants to go back where they came from, the more of a chance Republicans will have to win.
The report concedes that we’re probably stuck with early primaries like New Hampshire and South Carolina and the awful, undemocratic Iowa caucuses. But after that, the RNC proposes a dramatic shake-up:
To facilitate moving up primary elections to accommodate an earlier convention, the Party should strongly consider a regional primary system or some other form of a major reorganization instead of the current system (italics added). The current system is a long, winding, often random road that makes little sense. It stretches the primaries out too long, forces our candidates to run out of money, and because some states vote so late, voters in those states never seem to count.
So, under the figleaf of “inclusion,” party leaders are trying to get more control and marginalize recalcitrant voters.
This may sound undemocratic, but ultimately it’s in the GOPs best interests. Republicans must compromise on some issues (like immigration and gay marriage) to preserve their core principles of free markets and limited government, where the party provides an important counterweight to big-government Democrats.
Hardcore Republican voters think any compromise is a sellout, so for the party to move forward and actually win national elections in the 21st century, it’ll have to either metaphorically kick them to the curb or wait for them to die. The former is a better solution.