The world is changing, and the GOP need to catch-up
When Democrats go left, Trumpists go right; Republicans should go centre.
Free soil, free speech, free labour, free men.
In the last 24 years, the Republican Party has controlled the Senate for 16 years, and the House for 20 and they currently have a 5-seat majority over the Democrats in the Senate. So, on paper, it seems as if the GOP has a particular stronghold of politics in the US, however, mainstream news paints an image of turmoil and divisions. Thus I ask, what has happened to one of the most successful parties in US history?
The Republican Party was founded in 1854 on principles of classical liberalism such as abolitionism, and it quickly became the major opposition to the pro-slavery Democrats and nationalist Know Nothing Party. One of their first leaders, Abraham Lincoln, became the first President of the GOP just seven years later.
In contrast, the oldest political party in the U.S, the Democratic Party was once a pro-slavery, socially conservative party which made the transition to the progressive party it is today. The dramatic change can be reflected in the political realignment of African American voters since the 1920s.
I am a slow walker, but I never walk back.
While the Democrats were developing and finding new possibilities for gaining popularity among voters, the Republicans started filling the niche after them. The GOP swooped into the conservative wing of US politics, turning 180 degrees on their formerly liberal principles. On the other hand, the Party that was formerly focussed on human rights and personal-freedom has started growing a far-right and populist base, opposing development and favouring conservatism.
Currently, the most visible factions of the Democratic Party are from the far-left, with the wing led by Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, gaining popularity especially among younger voters. In the states that used to be strong Republican bases, now are bastions for the social-democrat wing of the Democratic Party. The conservative stances do not resonate with the young people, who are more and more liberal when it comes to social issues. Thus, the GOP is failing to adapt to the mindset of the new generation.
Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.
This can be very well illustrated by what is currently the biggest issue for the Republican Party, Trumpism. From the moment he expressed interest in running it was clear that the GOP establishment wants nothing to do with him. The problem is that his views, and how different he was, resonated with a substantial wing of the Party’s electorate, mostly populist and conservative. His anti PC views and controversial appearances were praised by the masses, which would have been unacceptable in the times when the Party was in its prime. The problem they created when changing the Party’s appearance came back now, in the form of a person who was so out of place, that he managed to snatch the victory from Democrats.
Donald Trump gives the Republicans a certain, stable base of many Americans, but at the same time, he is making it almost impossible for the Party to persuade anyone from the centre to join them. It can be illustrated by a simple metaphor. Few people like Brussel sprouts. They perceived themselves as underrepresented and discriminated against because whenever Brussel sprouts come up in public, they are regarded as terrible. So, when someone finally comes and publicly endorses eating Brussel sprouts and builds a whole platform around how the group is discriminated against, it is obvious that most other Brussel sprout-lovers are going to follow him. The problem is that since he is so devoted to the cause, it is tough to convince anyone, that the rest of the Party has more mixed feelings when it comes to the vegetable, and they would much rather not speak about it. Especially that he is on the front page of every newspaper in the country, spreading his pro-Brussel sprout message.
A perfect example of this is currently happening in the US as the shutdown continues to paralyse the government and federal agencies of the most powerful country on earth. A minority of the electorate supports this move by the President, but in his view, they are the most devoted voters, and as his whole political career is based on not giving in to influence, he cannot back down on his promise. Bipartisan efforts mean almost nothing to the American voters if the Republican president continues to keep the federal workers without pay, as they perceive it in the polls. Various Republican figures criticised Donald Trump for this move, but he perceives them as being against the interest of the people who elected him.
A house divided against itself cannot stand.
It may be the time for the Republicans to change course. With the current developments, the changing electoral basis, and diminishing sentiment towards conservatism it may be the time for the Party to start embracing a more modern approach to politics. The Party used to stand for justice, freedom, and fiscal responsibility. Now, its President is considering declaring the state of emergency to waste money on an economically unviable project that has no proof of possibly improving national security, to stop the migrants seeking refuge, who he calls terrorists and drug smugglers. The Party needs to adapt, while at the same time come back to its core. Move socially to the centre, while still embracing the ideas of economic freedom, fiscal responsibility, and small government.
Democrats are currently giving the Republicans a chance to get back to the game on a silver plate. The growing momentum of the socialist wing, leading to fierce battles inside the Party might be an opportunity which would be a crime to lose out on. The centre of the political discourse may become the new niche, and if the Republicans play it well, they can open themselves away for a much broader and much more sustainable electorate. They still have Donald Trump as president until 2020 (or more), but in the next elections to Senate, they are going to be the ones defending their seats, as the Democrats did in 2018. Going centre may be their last chance for a majority in the Senate for the next six years. Various political analysts have said that Donald Trump may be the last Republican to be a president, if there is something that can stop this from happening, then going centre may be that thing.