By: Chanel Caulfield
When I first embarked upon the journey that became the reading of “The Growth and Opportunity Project” released by the GOP in March, I had hoped to find some understanding and perhaps, even some agreement in their policy making. I had no idea that I would find sour forms of humor and irony with their opinions regarding issues and groups of people that I closely relate to (i.e. women and youth.)
A deep part inside of me had hoped that after reading the “autopsy” of the failed efforts of the Republican presidential campaign, I would find a truth about a party I have long considered too distant from the reality of public opinion; a party that I have always associated with hot-blooded media pundits and extreme advocates for stopping social change. The “truth” that I had searched for was never found in the way I had expected it.
I discovered an assortment of patronizing tones and a repetitive attitude that minorities, women, and youth are enigmas—citizens that will never be fully understood but must nonetheless be listened to between elections. At last, I was stunned by the missing ideology of the entire report: The GOP must accept that policy, not outreach, is the way to gain public support where they need it most.
This is not the first time the Republican Party has tried to improve its minority outreach. According to The Atlantic Wire, Ronald Reagan spoke of a “New Republican Party” and said it’s “still going to be the party of Lincoln and that means we are going to have to come to grips with what I consider to be a major failing of the party: its failure to attract the majority of black voters.” Thirty-five years have passed and the Republican Party is once again forced to strategize their appeal to black voters, as well as other minority groups.
In the 2008 presidential election, Republicans nominated Sarah Palin as the Vice President elect in what seemed to be a last-ditch effort to counter act Hillary Clinton’s appeal.
While “The Growth and Opportunity Project” recommends hiring more women to work for and represent the GOP, the problem with this strategy was the lack of genuine appeal to the average woman, in exception to the fact Palin is a female. Apparently, women were not easily wooed by the attractive, soccer-mom identity Palin radiated so effectively; a persona that female Republican figures feel necessary to portray in such as Michelle Bachmann and Cindy McCain.
For now, “The Growth and Opportunity Project” insists that the most effective way to female voters’ hearts is…well, their hearts. In fact, the GOP repetitively urges Republicans that women, minorities, and youth all need to feel like the Republicans care for them or they will “not likely open their ears to [the Republican Party].” The Republican National Committee further emphasizes Republicans must be aggressive in calling out the plethora of “liberal policies that negatively impact women.”
Despite their mentality that the Grand Old Party is now the Growth and Opportunity Party, the GOP’s strategies to outreach are flawed in that they refuse to change anything about their policies and their treatment of the groups they desperately need as supporting voters. Whether it involves Rep. Don Young’s offensive use of the term “wetbacks” in reference to minorities on an Alaskan radio interview or the use of “vaginas” to refer to women by State Rep. Peter Hansen., the Republican party cannot attract voters if they do not prove to become an inclusive party.
If the GOP can recognize there needs to be youth outreach, because the younger generations are the ones who will have to deal with the poor economy in the future, why do they consistently talk economics with the older generation to secure votes? Appealing to the younger generation isn’t just about winning elections and making youth feel good about themselves.
There can be no hope for a Republican Party that still caters policy only to their beloved Reagan generation, if the government does not treat us like intelligent citizens who want to make the United States a better and more diverse nation that can be a force for positive, global change.
It is not enough to find young celebrity spokesmen or have an active twitter account to show how up to date the GOP party is with technology. As it stands, the younger generation, women, and minority groups “roll their eyes,” as the Growth and Opportunity Project explains, at the GOP because republicans cannot put their words to action.
In an interview, Republican Lenny McAllister sums up the GOP struggles simply: “We have a diversity issue and not just when it comes to racial background or when it comes to sexual orientation. It boils down to diversity of thought.”