Since the 2012 presidential election, I have heard some seriously outrageous claims about the status of American politics, none of which favorable to the future of the Republican Party. From the left, the oft-made claim that demographic changes have finally overwhelmed what has long been an increasingly shrinking share of a white Republican-dominated electorate, seems to be a favorite. On the right, the embarrassingly simple claim that an ever-expanding welfare state has finally produced more “takers than makers” who vote only to keep their government assistance, is just as often stated.
I, however, have pushed back on these claims with a little something that neither the right or left seems to care much about – facts. Without having to re-litigate the Census Bureau report, the bottom line was that a “record turnout” among Hispanic voters did not reelect Barack Obama. In fact, following their usual pattern, Hispanics again voted at a lower rate than the prior election. Sadly, because they could not help but to race to the dollar, otherwise credible institutions and pundits published books entirely based on this theory before that Census report was even released.
Regarding the latter claim, selfish “welfare queens” have been around for a long, long time. If you recall that term “welfare queen” was used by then-candidate Ronald Reagan, 35 years ago. During the 2012 campaign, thanks to Jimmy Carter’s grandson, Mother Jones posted the now-infamous video, in which Mitt Willard Romney decided to make his elitist – if not somewhat true – 47% comments. Yet the senior citizens who were included in that number voted for Mitt Romney, something prior GOP presidential nominees have had a very hard time accomplishing, except for President George W. Bush in 2004.
In a new Fox Poll, a whopping 74% of all registered voters said they “think Americans rely too much on the government and not enough on themselves.” In a follow-up question, 50% said “to rely on friends, family, their church or other charitable organizations” for fulfillment of needs “is the better way to get families who fall on hard times back on their feet again.” Only 35% said that a reliance on “government programs such as food stamps and welfare” was the way to go, and by a 52% – 35% margin, Americans would rather friends and family in need ask them for a place to stay instead of relying upon government assistance. Furthermore, 57% essentially agreed with Mitt Romney’s implied statements that too many people “take advantage” of government assistance, compared to just 36% who said most were truly in need.
In February of this year, just after Barack Obama was reelected, Rasmussen found that “Beyond Family, 35% Say Personal Allegiance is to Church; 31% Say Country First” – which mirrors the same ideology that accounts for the responses in the Fox Poll, and further demonstrates that Americans are overwhelmingly conservative. In my upcoming book, 21st Century Conservatism: Principles and Strategies for Building an Unbeatable Republican Party Coalition, I am going to make the case that it is time for conservatives in the Republican Party to throw out the GOP, because they are not one-in-the-same, at all. How is it that President Obama has presided over a rightward-shifting electorate far more conservative than the electorate under President Reagan, when both Obama and Reagan were reelected; Reagan of course, in a landslide election?
In the graph above, which uses an omnibus measure of the public’s support for government programs that was created by political scientist James Stimson from who gathered hundreds of different survey questions, we can easily observe that the prevailing wisdom calling for the imminent destruction of the Republican party is incorrect. In this graph, the absolute numbers are arbitrary; by itself, “50” doesn’t mean anything. What is important is how the numbers shift over time.
The simplest way to explain this anomaly is to recognize the sad fact that – even though they may agree with their ideology – Americans do not like the GOP. The reason: the Republican Party – at least the element referred to as the GOP is just stupid, plain and simple. Americans’ views of the Republican Party have always trailed the Democratic Party, although they are both now at historic lows, but they agree with conservatism in principle. What good does that do when you are led by leaders who do not live or govern by those principles? Americans know BS when they see it and, at least with the Democrats, they know that they will use government to help them.
Following the financial crisis, the Democratic Party successfully pinned the blame on the Republican Party, whom of which have since ran from the debate and their principles, rather than fighting back and standing up to cronyism and for the everyday American. On almost every issue or ideological preference, the GOP runs from their beliefs, fearing the false narratives carved out by liberals with the help from a more than sympathetic (more like complicate) liberal media.
On the issue of religion in society, for instance, which was supposed to be a negative characteristic for candidates like former Sen. Rick Santorum and Gov. Mike Huckabee, the political right in America is truly the political center, despite what liberal judges on the bench say and do about religion in the public square. Gallup found that 75% of Americans believe that more religion in society would be positive for America, while Rasmussen found almost 60% believe it is “essential to a healthy society,” yet the GOP cowers at the debate over secularization in the face of deeply unpopular groups like “New Atheists” and the ACLU.
President Obama’s approval rating is in the tank and sinking deeper, the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups had a greater impact on the election than the media is letting on, and instead of pushing back, the establishment GOP is running scared on issues that have proven to be winning arguments for conservatism. The old slogan that holds “if it’s not broken than don’t fix it” speaks to the heart of what is fundamentally at the core of conservatism.
Until the financial crisis, it was the Democrats who were running scared, staring into the mirror and wondering if they were looking at a dead party walking (for reference, please see the aftermath of the 2004 election). We, too, can rebuild our party into an unbeatable conservative Republican Party coalition, as I wrote in an earlier article, but we must be unafraid to be who we are and offer real solutions that reflect an unabashed belief in true conservatism, not constantly attempt to brew a new brand of Democrat-light beer that tastes and smells like bitter old skunked spit.