Some would think that a 19 year old could not possibly have the wisdom or qualifications to claim that they have the recipe to save the GOP. But I believe the Republican Party, of which I’m a member, has aged so much in my lifetime that I can speak to the outdated ideology it represents today.
While the GOP may maintain the Senate, win back a few seats in the house, and maybe even retain the executive seat this year, the party’s platform and what it stands for can’t continue to remain stagnant when society has drifted more and more to the left.
Take the GOP’s problem with social issues. The party in recent years has pandered to the retrogressive right, promoting anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-immigration and anti-socially progressive rhetoric into the platform. Yet, American society is being made up more and more of what the party is pushing up against. These people would not even CONSIDER the GOP, when they look at an antiquated platform that would hinder their lifestyles. It stands to reason that up-and-coming groups would not consider voting for this party the way it is.
I understand why the GOP sticks to its views – older voters are more reliable than younger ones. But this is not a sustainable strategy. I hate to seem morbid here, but life expectancy in the US hovers around 78 years of age. There should be some cause for concern here as the core voting base is dying out.
The Democrats experienced the same voting base problem during the Reagan-Bush era. They were perceptive enough, however, to start appealing to younger generations by pushing for more social change and bringing the fight for equality to the limelight in such a way that seemed genuine. This strategy created the appearance that if you were a Democrat, you were a good person. Democrats were fighting against “the old, racist, white, elites,” despite the fact that the party was run by them. While all of this was happening, the GOP kept with the same 1980s strategy of socially conservative family values and, to an extent, they still do today.
One might argue that since Donald Trump flipped multiple states that Barack Obama won to red in the last election he’s obviously pushing the party into the next generation. However, while Trump may be running on the Republican ticket, he is a populist and isn’t nearly as socially conservative as past nominees or presidents have been.
Trump has created his own coalition of middle class, working class, disenfranchised white voters. These voters vote with their wallet. While they may disagree with the social platform of the GOP, they see Trump promising lower taxes, more jobs, and economic growth, and they realize that if they want to prosper financially, he is the guy that is more suited for that job rather than the career politicians that have run this country in the past. Without Trump, this coalition falls apart.
What is my treatment for this dire diagnosis? First, the Republican Party should stop being the mouthpiece of the evangelical right. The founder of modern-day conservatism, Barry Goldwater, put it best: “Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise.”
The GOP also must stop pandering to the Confederate South by defending monuments that glorify slavery. It must help undocumented immigrants find easier pathways to legal citizenship. It should devote more money to public education and charter schools so that low-income parents have options.
It’s time for the GOP to progress.
Chris Peritore is a college student and line cook from Easton.