Revamping the Republican Message

Writing for Fox News, Dr. Manny Alvarez wrote an open letter to his fellow Republicans calling for his party to “go back to basics.” He admits his party failed to pitch its message successfully, and recognizes that it’s “not listening” to increasingly important demographic groups in America like Latinos:

I think that if the Republican Party wants to change, the way that we transmit our message has to be fundamentally recalculated. You literally have to go out and identify with the real problems of many Latino families.  You have to alter their perceptions. And whenever possible, you have to execute solutions, which have measurable outcomes to them – and then follow it up.  Further, you must take these steps not only during an election cycle, but at every single opportunity possible.

Dr. Alvarez is right that Republicans need to rethink how they present their message. If they fail to do so, they are set for years of political irrelevance in an America vastly different from years past.

But Republicans more importantly need to figure out what exactly their basics are. In recent years, the party’s radicalization has stunted the party’s effectiveness. As American Enterprise Institute scholar Norman Ornstein explained in August during an interview,

 Traditional conservatism is rooted in reason, in preserving values and traditions from the past, with reverence for facts. Radical rightism is much more rooted in emotionalism, is anti-science and disdainful of facts and plays to emotion.

For moderate republicans and traditional conservatives, there are hard times ahead. They are not much attracted to the Democratic Party, but find the Republican Party of today is leaving them behind. Whether there is a course correction in the next few years– and whether Democrats can adjust to the middle to win some over – are key questions.

It’s clear to Republicans across the board that their current strategies won’t work like they once did, and it’s time to return to the drawing board. Some act as though they took over governing from the founding fathers, with the slight problem here that roughly two hundred years of history have happened in the meantime.

Republicans are to be commended for their desire to continue the legacy of the founding fathers. And they are also to be commended for realizing they need to start listening to the public. But they must listen to what the American population is actually saying. They can’t continue to hear what they want to hear — a pitch-perfect blend of the founding fathers and the population of today — and act as they think best. They imperil their national relevance if they fail to make these important changes.

About C. Ryan Knight

C. Ryan Knight teaches English at Randolph Community College in Asheboro, NC, and he lives with his wife outside Greensboro, NC.
Email: knight.cr@gmail.com


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