It’s pretty clear that if the Republican Party ever wants to hold the White House again, it will have to change. The nation has reached a tipping point and the old rules of politics no longer apply. The demographic shift is too large to be overcome by rhetoric.
So what can the GOP do to win back the presidency?
The party has to make some painful changes:
• First, the GOP has to abandon its rhetoric on social issues. Stop fighting the abortion issue, an issue settled by the Supreme Court decades ago. Stop fighting the gay marriage debate. More states are going to allow it as more people accept it. And stop the inane rhetoric on illegal immigration. The reason there is “illegal” immigration is because the U.S. government has a messed up system of legal immigration. Make it easier for workers to come into the U.S. and there won’t be so much illegal immigration to talk about. Social issue rhetoric is hurting the GOP and if it expects to win, it will have to dramatically modify its tone.
• Second, find a better way to select GOP candidates, or at least to cull out the nuts. The two Republican candidates for Senate who made stupid remarks about rape and “God’s will” were a black mark on all GOP candidates. (And our own Rep. Paul Broun’s comments about evolution is a lie from the “pit of hell” didn’t help, either.) With today’s open primaries, it’s easy for the fruitcakes of the political world to get a hearing. Maybe the party shouldn’t go back to the old smoked-filled rooms, but some system needs to be in place to keep those people off the ballot. They taint everyone.
• Third, put some distance between the Party and big businesses. The only thing worse than big government is big business. After the housing bubble and economic downturn, people are suspicious of big businesses and the Wall Street influence in politics. While the nation suffered, GM got a bailout and several large financial firms were rescued by the government because they were “too big to fail.” Democrats are guilty of that, too, but it is the GOP that is tied at the hip with big business.
• Finally, find some presidential candidates who aren’t made of wood. Mitt Romney seems like a nice guy, but he could never connect with voters. Even many of those who voted for him did so because they didn’t like President Obama rather than for what Romney had to offer.
The Democratic Party has been successful in the last two Presidential elections because they were able to sway the non-ideological middle to their cause. Although the core of the Democratic Party is just as whacky as the core of the GOP, the Dems spoke the language better and carried the independents.
What the Democrats can’t offer, however, is a reasonable discussion on fiscal issues. The Democratic solution to every problem is to raise taxes and throw around more money. That might appeal to the welfare class that doesn’t pay any taxes, but to the rest of the country, raising taxes is a non-starter.
President Obama framed his rhetoric as raising taxes on the “rich,” but those numbers just don’t work. Even if the “rich” were taxed at 100 percent, it wouldn’t generate enough money to fund the spending and debt of the federal government. Only by hiking taxes on the middle class can the Democrats begin to pay for all their social programs. The GOP should have a stronger voice on the fiscal issues.
The question is, can the Republicans move away from their social issues and focus on fiscal issues and still keep their core in play? If the GOP moves toward the political center, will that cause its traditional voters to abandon the party?
The GOP’s problems are bigger than just the Democrats. It’s a cultural shift driven by demographic changes. The GOP can adapt to that and perhaps shift some alliances, or it can continue to fight and always be outflanked at the ballot box.
For traditional Republicans, it’s a Hobson’s choice. There is no good solution.
The Statham City Council is slated to vote on a rezoning and annexation Thursday night of a large tract of land along Hwy. 316. Walton International has asked for the rezoning, but that firm’s plans are vague. Much of that property has been syndicated by Walton and the firm is known for its land banking — buying, syndicating and reselling raw land — more than for its developing.
If Statham does agree to rezone and annex the property, it should put a time limit of two years for Walton to begin building on the property, or the land would revert to its original zoning. To rezone land without a specific development project is just speculative rezoning and isn’t good for the community.
If Walton really does intend to develop that Statham property, the firm should have no problem with a two-year vesting clause as was done on its Barrow Landing property last year.
Mike Buffington is co-publisher of the Barrow Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.