According to older Republicans (i.e 51 and older), Ronald Reagan was the greatest American President since World War II. Reagan helped expand the wealth of many middle class Americans and led the country towards its ultimate victory over our hated rival, the Soviet Union (although the ultimate end would come in the early 90s).
Similar to the black community awaiting the second coming of Martin Luther King Jr, Republicans have a lofty idea that another conservative pragmatist will swoop in and deliver the party from its former past transgressions. Reaganomics is the answer to all of America’s problems, no matter the context!!
The admiration of a man that a large portion of Americans weren’t able to vote for has caused the inability for the political party to grow. Republicans are stuck in the 1980s (leather jackets and all), and what’s worse, many don’t want to move forward. Take the 2012 Presidential election. Many conservatives blamed Mitt Romney’s defeat on his inability to connect with conservative voters. "He’s too moderate!“ they shouted. "He’s nothing like Reagan! He tried too hard to appeal to independents and lost his base of conservative supporters."
Maybe their right., but according to statistics, it wouldn’t have mattered.
Ronald Reagan, when running for President in 1980 received 56 percent of the white vote and won in a 44-state landslide. Mitt Romney won 59 percent of the white vote in 2012 and only won 24 states. In voting percent and overall numbers with white Americans, Mitt Romney did better than Reagan.
The issue with the lack of national Republican support isn’t the conservative message, the economy, or heck even trust…..in the words of Newt Gingrich, it’s how Americans feel.
Currently (and these are facts from multiple studies referenced in the article), the Republican party is anchored by older, less educated whites who identify themselves as "American”, with a dislike of illegal immigration. You can infer what you will from that statement, but we can all agree that Republicans are in a dire situation in terms of its future. Because of this well known Republican stereotype, other group segments (for example Hispanic-Americans) feel as if Republican’s don’t care about their issues and concerns.
I recently read an article where the author called diversity and gender workplace initiatives as “leftist” and “liberal agendas”. This thinking is what has led Republicans to the brink of collapse. If Republican growth rate stays true, 20 – 30 years from now the political party of Reagan and Lincoln will be no more. The older white mentality of keeping things old in order to make America great doesn’t apply to a new age of Americans who never experienced the “Greatness of the 1980s”.
To the Republican Party I say this. Reagan is dead! If you want to follow him, continue along the path of placating to your current base. If you truly want your party to grow, then its time to diversify. How do you do that?
Reach out to organizations that support initiatives catering to minorities and women. Michael Bloomberg has already given an effective strategy on being a successful modern day Republican. Colin Powell has constantly urged Republicans to update recruitment strategies. Have Powell, a well respected black leader, help create that. Recruit Hispanics (preferably those not associated with extremist organizations) and women and allow them to help influence policy ideas as well.
Government has evolved and strict 1930s interpretation of the constitution does not apply anymore (even Reagan understood this). A new Republican party means an update on certain core principles. Until this conversation is had, Republicans can not grow with the 21st century.