Extispicy is the practice of using inspecting the entrails of animals to predict the future. In the post-mortems of the The 2012 Presidential Election that are being written and have been written, the need of The Republican Party to re-imagine themselves to ensure their viability in presidential politics going forward, is and will be a prevailing theme. When Republicans pick apart the carcass and inspect the entrails of The 2012 Presidential Election what will the entrails tell them?
- The dreaded demographic time-bomb has finally gone off.
- Mitt Romney did well with the current crop of seniors.
- High population areas continue to not support Republican presidential candidates.
- The enthusiasm gap didn’t come to fruition.
- The rural vote cannot sustain the party.
- A hard-line immigration stance will not do the party any good going forward.
The growing urbanization of America will continue to be an obstacle to Republicans in their bid to grow and maintain their influence in American politics. Millennials will see their influence rise with each election. Millennials are an odd generation that has shown an affinity for central city living, and an aversion to car ownership. If Republicans intend to court this demographic, a good way to do so would be to support regional transit networks, such as light-rail in California and improvements to Amtrak’s service in The Northeast Corridor. Declaring big transportation projects boondoggles before they even break ground will be an urge that must be resisted, as will be focusing exclusively on highway projects.
Playing to a xenophobic base is a sound strategy for winning in the primaries, but it is poison in the general election. 70% of The Hispanic vote went to Barack Obama. It is a easy to jump to declare that Mitt Romney’s “self-deportation” misstep doomed his campaign before he ever stepped to a podium to debate Obama. America’s immigration system is broken. Both parties agree on this, but draconian measures to curb illegal and legal immigration have shown to either not work, or they come with unintended consequences; namely a continuing mismatch with the amount of STEM professionals available and STEM professionals need by “job-creators”. A sane national policy with a robust and sensible guest worker program is needed, and the continued refusal to entertain the idea of a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who have made America their home has to be put to bed permanently. ”That dog won’t hunt.” On the state level, laws passed by states such as Arizona and Alabama must be fought vigorously by Republicans. Restrictive laws passed by Alabama and South Carolina cost Americans an estimated 9 billion dollars. An immigration stance that costs you the election and your job creator base money should be abandoned as soon as possible.
Push Real Education Reform
A smart way to peel off voters in America’s cities is to give more than lip service to education reform. Aggressively pushing alternatives to traditional education like charter schools, online schools, and vouchers in communities with failing schools and students without the economic means to escape them is a sound strategy for The Republican party. It grows the base, by attracting new voters, and it weakens a long-time Republican foe, the teachers unions. The focus of education reform on the Republican end is often focused on teacher pay and pensions. This is a mistake. Rightly or wrongly Americans believe that teachers are overworked and under-compensated. Instead placing a spotlight on success stories that exist outside of the traditional system is the way to go. Roland Fryer, Geoffrey Canada, and the founders of KIPP, Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin must be aggressively courted. Giving one of them a important speaking slot at the 2016 convention would be a smart play.
So how does The Republican party sell this three-pronged strategy for continued relevancy to their base?
Transportation improvements should be sold as infrastructure improvements.
Education Reform is like crack, it sells itself.
Immigration reform will be a difficult sell, especially after America and the Republican base, endured two campaigns filled with dog whistles about “taking America back”. A media blitz that seeks to intertwine immigration reform with favored the American ideals of exceptionalism, The American Dream, The Melting Pot, and international competitiveness will have to be undertaken to convince the base of the necessity of sensible reform. Or you can come out straight with the base and ask them, “Do you want to win?” The need for one’s team to win is often enough for get a person to accept things that they have convinced themselves that they never would. Extispicy is rightly viewed with skepticism in the 21st Century, but it would do the GOP some good to dust off the practice in wake of The 2012 Presidential Election. Proper inspection of the remains of the night of November 6, 2012, will lead to a better future for the party.