Growth and Opportunity Project: New Outreach Plan is Tearing the GOP Apart


It has been two days since the Republican National Committee released the results of The Growth and Opportunity Project, a report that RNC Chairman Reince Priebus termed an "autopsy" of the party’s electoral failures and a plan for the future. The document says that the Republican Party is seen as the party of "stuffy old white men" and that voters see the Republican Party as "scary" and "out of touch."

From the very start, the project was sure to upset parts of the coalition that makes up the current Republican Party.

One unforeseen consequence is the sheer number of demographics that this self-introspection has upset. A whole host of factions from the religious conservatives to grassroots Tea Party activists are blasting the report. Such a brutal reaction does not bode well for a party that is facing electoral difficulty in the near future.

The most fevered reaction was from religious conservatives. The words "Christian" and "church" do not appear once in the 50,000-word document. Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association, a conservative Christian organization that owns 200 radio stations nationwide and runs an active grassroots network, said:

"The report didn't mention religion much, if at all. You cannot grow your party by distancing yourself from your base, and this report doesn't reinforce the values that attracted me and many other people into the Republican Party in the first place. It just talks about reaching out to other groups."

From the party grassroots,2,200 local chapter-strong Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth, said:

"Americans and those in the tea party movement don’t need an ‘autopsy’ report from RNC to know they failed to promote our principles, and lost because of it."

Iowa GOP Chairman A.J. Spiker, a member of the Rand Paul libertarian wing of the party, argues that the report's proposal to eliminate caucuses constitutes "an attempt to get rid of what the base of the party wants. I think RNC membership would object to that too."

Erik Erikson, editor of the conservative blog, blasted the report in an op-ed written for Fox News, saying:

"Perceptions matter and right now the perception is that the Republican National Committee remains indebted to many the base of the party blames for its stagnation. The report’s release and its content offer little to help that."

Conservative pundit Michelle Malkin took to blasting the document on Twitter:

Even the National Review, one of the most influential conservative editorials, is down on the report. The editors collectively penned an article about it, arguing "But for all the analytic exertion, has the document lighted on the source of the GOP’s recent electoral woes, or plausibly plotted a course correction? Unfortunately, the answer on both counts is, not really."

All of this hostility towards the report illustrates the elephant in the room when it comes to moving forward. A shift on gay marriage may please the fiscal wing of the party, who wish to drop social issues that are increasingly toxic during election season, but such a strategy would greatly upset the powerful religious social conservatives. A more liberal stance on immigration upsets those in the party who are hard-line nativists, and so on and so forth.

The truth of the matter is that the Republican Party was able to plaster over these cracks when they were winning, or at least had the halo of a winner. Now that the ship has hit a squall, the cracks are starting to widen. Time will tell if this damage can be repaired or the ship will sink.

Growth Opportunity Project