Ron Paul and the GOP Need to Change Economic Strategies to Succeed in Changing America
Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) appeared on Bloomberg TV via phone this week to say he operates with a mindset that we are already over the fiscal cliff. Paul said that Obama won because most people receive some form of government benefit, and said that despite not having much confidence in the political system, there was still a possibility of bipartisan compromise on the budget and the tax code. His reaction to the election mirrors a common refrain of many conservatives that comes down to the GOP losing the presidential election either because of demographics or because of a "makers and takers" mentality where the takers outnumber the makers and feel beholden to the government. This outlook is overly simplistic, shifts blame, and merely blinds Republicans from adopting new successful strategies in the first place.
The “makers vs takers” argument has actually been fairly well debunked even before the election with this map:
The map shows that the places with the highest percentages of “takers” are actually were likely (and did) vote for Romney. If the “makers and takers” argument really held any water, Obama and the Democrats should have won places like Texas, Arizona, and Mississippi, while losing Connecticut, Washington, and New Hampshire. The argument is really just masked insult for Democratic voters. It is just an elaborate way of saying “Obama won because he attracts the votes of the lazy and selfish, and not hard-working people like me.”
The Republican Party certainly has a demographics problem. Predictably, Obama got 93% of the African American vote. More than that, 73% Asians and 67% Latinos voted for President Obama. This is an increase of 2% and 5%, respectively from 2008. There is no reason Asians and Latinos would stick with and increase support for the president just because he is a minority. Considering the socioeconomic disparities amongst minorities, the Republican Party is not losing them on a racial level, it is losing them on a policy level.
The idea that the GOP must retool its message to capture a changing American demographic does not fully capture the scope of what must be changed. The GOP cannot afford to just uniquely tailor the expression of their policies to various groups; they have to retool their actual policies as well. This is a lot harder than just changing the message. Issues like immigration and education reform come to mind as having particular resonance. One thing is for sure: using a rhetorical strategy of an idealized past does not resonate with groups that were underprivileged and discriminated against during that very same past.