How Has the Republican Party Changed and Where’s It Going Next?
By Jason Cabel Roe, Principal at Roe Strategic LLC, Ryan Binkley, Republican Presidential Candidate, and Mike Netter, Radio Host, KABC Talk Radio 790 AM
A Brief History of the Modern GOP
By Jason Cabel Roe – Principal at Roe Strategic LLC, a Political Strategy Firm
Over the last sixteen years, the Republican Party has been going through a transformation, fueled by a betrayal of GOP politicians in Washington and an increasingly elite Democrat Party.
Historically, there were big differences between the two parties. The Republican Party was rooted in an ideology that emphasized individual responsibility, free markets, and a less intrusive government. The Democratic Party consisted of a coalition made up of those who didn’t feel represented by the GOP, an uneasy alliance that papered over the vast differences in the voters they represented. How else can you explain a political party that includes gay young professionals in San Francisco, Polish autoworkers in Detroit, and black farmers in Alabama? The only commonality they shared was a feeling that there wasn’t a place for them among Republicans.
The realignment of those coalitions began during the bailouts of the 2000s. Whether it was the Wall Street banks or the Big Three automakers, these corporations were deemed too big to fail and were given billions in taxpayer money to save them from the bad decision-making that caused their failures. Meanwhile, the victims of these bad decisions, the middle and working class, lost their homes, their jobs, and maybe even their pensions, while receiving little relief from the government. What these citizens observed was a government designed to help the privileged while ignoring the vulnerable.
Working class voters lost their trust in the Republican Party, which drove these voters into the arms of Barack Obama in 2008 and again in 2012. However, Obama showed the same contempt for these voters as the Republican elites.
Enter Donald Trump. He gave voice to the disillusioned proletariat, railing against free trade, endless wars, unchecked immigration, and a media more devoted to their friends among the protected class than the plight of the unprotected. The old adage that the media’s job was to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable seemed a bygone concept.
Discontent Will Continue to Propel Trump
That sharp right turn could’ve been avoided and a course correction was possible until Covid. Regardless of how you feel about the government’s handling of the pandemic one thing is clear: the winners of the pandemic were the elites.
Average Americans’ civil liberties were trampled, small businesses destroyed, schools disrupted, and traditional institutions devalued. The proletariat was silenced while the elites were empowered. Big Government, Big Business, Big Tech, Big Media, Big Cities, and Big Labor all got stronger while most Americans were told to shut up and do what they’re told.
That attitude only strengthened Donald Trump. An incredibly imperfect leader, he’s evolved into the one truth-teller in the eyes of the disenfranchised. He gives full-throated voice to the anger many of them feel toward the elites. But rather than course-correcting, the elites have decided to double-down in their war against him, with no awareness that many Americans see it as a war against them as well.
New polling shows Trump leading in most of the rust belt states that eluded Republican presidential candidates over the last three decades. The realignment of these coalitions has put Trump in the driver’s seat in 2024, in spite of his deep flaws. While it is debatable if the GOP is better or worse off today, it appears that it is at least better off than the Democratic Party.
The Republican Party is Suffocating in a Shrinking Tent
By Ryan Binkley – Republican Presidential Candidate and Co-Founder & CEO of Generational Group
Forty-six. Today’s Republican Party seems haunted by that number. We have failed to get beyond 46 percent in the last two presidential elections, which is why Joe Biden is our 46th president. The reason is obvious, even if the solution is unclear: Our party’s leaders sit smugly in the echo chambers they have built in our ever-shrinking tent and cannot understand why the voters are not coming to us. If the Republican Party wants to win again, it is time to leave our comfort zone and start meeting people where they are, especially urban voters and young adults.
Population is Destiny
Look at any electoral map of the United States from this century and the heart of the GOP’s vulnerability jumps out at you. You will see a sea of red, dotted by islands of deep blue. At first glance, you might think this a sign of Republican strength, but maps can be deceiving. Within those blue islands are tens of millions of voters the Republican Party is not even trying to win.
The numbers speak for themselves. In 2020, President Trump won a greater number of counties and metro areas than his challenger, but the areas Joe Biden won had more people. The counties won by Biden have 67 million more residents than those won by Trump. Biden enjoyed an 18 percent margin over Trump in metro areas with more than 1 million people.
But it is not just urban cores that have turned against our party. We are losing the suburbs, too. In 2016, Donald Trump had a 1.2 million-vote margin over Hillary Clinton in large suburban areas. By 2020, that advantage evaporated, with Biden winning these same suburban regions by over 600,000 votes.
Generations of Change
The situation for the Republican Party is even more dire with the youngest voters. In 2020, Biden jumped to a 20 percent advantage with Gen Z and Millennial voters, with nearly two-thirds of voters aged 18 to 24 voting for Biden. With the Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation no longer making up the majority of the electorate, Republicans face a grim future at the ballot box unless we are able to win the hearts and minds of young voters. The anti-GOP wrath of younger voters, especially those enrolled in higher education, has escalated to the point that college towns are devastating Republican campaigns in crucial swing states like Wisconsin. Since 2002, Democrats have increased their vote share in two out of every three college counties.
Republicans cannot hope to solve this problem using the same playbook we’ve relied upon for 20 years. Just like Reagan in 1980, we must stitch together a new coalition that represents the true face of America. We must throw open the tent and welcome in young adults, urban voters, suburban families, minorities, and immigrants, by showing them that Republicans care just as much about justice, poverty, and the environment as Democrats, with one key difference: Our solutions work!
The Republican Party Has Gotten Worse
By Mike Netter – Radio Host, KABC Talk Radio 790 AM
It may seem like a simple question—is the Republican Party better or worse than it used to be?—but, as with all things political, the answer depends upon the observer.
Some—specifically the lawyers and consultants who run catastrophic campaigns out of their DC offices—will think it’s better because they continue to hold on to their cushy jobs. And, since they are comfortable with losing, their Democrat and media chums treat them with a nice “there, there,” a pat on the head, and an invitation to a fancy brunch. But from where I sit, the answer is obvious—the Republican Party is worse. Much worse.
The Political and Consultant Class is the Problem
Let’s start with the aforementioned consultant class. They botched Jeb Bush’s campaign and are in the process of ruining DeSantis’ effort. Here in California, they seem perfectly content with super-minority status, grifting millions from rich people like Meg Whitman and Caitlyn Jenner, who think they can run for office.
The “go along to get along” wing of the party in DC has, for years, turned its back on the typical Republican voter. From open borders to government growth, the McConnells of the world could not possibly care less what the people who vote for them think, as long as they get to stay in DC, surrounded by sycophants and potential future employers.
They are the perfect terrifying example of the phenomena known as “regulatory capture,” which is when those who are supposed to be watching to make sure everything is done right by X, become the best buddy of X, and end up letting X run the show (e.g. teachers/Department of Education, unions/Department of Labor, activists/Environmental Protection Agency, etc.)
Worry Less About the Media and Electability
The Republican Party is far too worried about what the media will say. It’s been said before, but it bears repeating: It doesn’t matter what a Republican says, the media will make it sound bad. Imagine a poll taken of members of Congress about whether they like cats or dogs and both parties show an equal majority of dog lovers—the headline the next day? Democrats love dogs, Republicans hate cats. The practice makes the party look facile and weak.
While electability is a crucial part of evaluating a candidate, the term means different things to different people. To the party, it seems to mean bland, box-ticking, talks a good game but won’t really change anything, and just might (but never will) pass the media smell test.
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