Honors American Government
Honors American Government PSCI 1051
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Olsen 1 Leah Olsen PSCI 1051 040509 The Revival of the Republican Party I Introduction The world is changing The old ways will not do It is time for a new generation of leadership This statement made by John F Kennedy before his assassination in 1963 has never been truer for the Republican Party than it is now In 2008 America made an incredible mark on history as our nation elected Barack Obama as the President of the United States This year will go down in history not only as the year that our country nally elected an African American President but also as the year that the Grand Old Party lost control of both the Legislative and Executive branches of the federal government With this brutal wound freshly bleeding within the Republican Party many politicians journalists and public opinion leaders are expressing their ideas on how the party should begin the healing process Critics of the GOP are convinced that the conservatives should abandon their outdated fundamentals and adapt to a changing liberal America On the other hand conservative leaders are adamantly pushing the idea that they need to stress their conservative core values upon the public rather than conforming to moderate ideals and strategies However it is my belief and the belief of countless politicians and historians that the Republican Party must embrace their traditional perspective and in uence on politics while simultaneously presenting these ideals with a new charismatic appeal Olsen 2 II Propositions A More Moderate Liberal Many political scientists and liberal leaders argue that just as the party has been failing for the past eight years it will continue to do so again unless change is sought out Through this logic many are very adamant about revolutionizing the party Many people refer to these politicians who want to change the party in the future as Reformist Republicans They hold true to the stance that Republican leaders must embrace the ideas of our evolving liberal society Christine Todd Whitman and Robert Bostock authors of the book quotIt39s My Party Too The Battle for the Heart of the GOP and the Future of Americaquot both comment on the necessity of GOP action in the near future While a host of issues were at play in this election the primary reason McCain lost was the substantial erosion of support from selfidentified moderates compared with four years ago In 3904 Sen John Kerry D held just a ninepercentagepoint margin among moderate voters over Bush This year the spread between Obama and McCain was 21 points among this group The net difference between the two elections is a deficit of nearly 64M moderate votes for the GOP in 3908 U n ess 1116 G 0 P ems its selfimposed captivity to social fundamentalists it will spend a long time in the political wilderness On 114 the American people very clearly rejected the politics of demonization and division It39s long past time for the GOP to do the same Reuters Bostock and Whitman argue that the Republicans lost power in 2008 because they lost millions of moderate votes They suggest that the party ought to do away with their strict fundamentalism and lean toward the middle or even the left Several other political figures seem to agree Charlie Crist the current Governor of Florida is one of the many proponents for a more liberal Republican future In an interview with aMz39amz39 Herald Journalist he stated Olsen 3 This party can no longer hope to reach Hispanics African Americans and other minority groups we need to just do it Embracing cultures and lifestyles will make us a better party and better leaders What we need to do is look forward look to the future And that s what this meeting is all about It39s about having a more inclusive party a party that works for the people that utilizes common sense and makes certain that public service is something that s foremost and to the front the party needs to win over minority voters Reuters While this proposition may seem to be logical if the Republican Party decides to go more liberal then they will not only risk losing moderate votes but they will lose the historical coalition that has stood by them from the beginning southerners evangelical Christians middleclass workers social conservatives and fiscal conservatives They will lose the millions of Americans who value conservative philosophies These millions are the ones whose support has made the Republican Party dominant over the past forty years If we have two liberal parties whom then will these millions vote for Or will they continue to vote at all Our country is not yet at the point were it could survive without a conservative party B The African American Vote Another popularly posed solution for the revival of the Republican Party is to attempt to claim a portion of the African American vote Many people recognize that in this recent election an overwhelming number of African Americans voted Democratic As the exit polls show in 2000 the Democratic Party raked in 90 of the African American vote in 2004 they took 88 and in 2008 the Democrats took an incredible 95 CNN Because of these overwhelming statistics many political scientists such as Ralph Waldman have begun to suggest that the Republicans should attempt to claim the African American vote He argues that the problem with the GOP is that they are so Olsen 4 deeply rooted in the south that they are quickly losing votes as the rest of the country begins to expand and default to the Democratic Party The GOP continues to be dominated by people who are so used to stoking the res of racial animus that they seem incapable of seeing the road to electoral ruin they travel As hard as it may be to see from today39s vantage point Republicans will win elections again including presidential ones But there is no doubt that an era of GOP dominance has come to an end The Republican majority is like a building that has crumbled the walls and windows gone and only the concrete foundation remaining The only problem is that rebuilding on that same foundation would dictate a structure of the same size and shape and those raw materials are no longer available The foundation is the white South and its place at the heart of the GOP which has been the party s great strength for four decades is what threatens the pa1ty with obsolescence in a changing America Waldman This idea is also futile Obama is African American and he will continue to rake in the votes of the African American population There must be a better solution that is bound to work C More Conservative One of the most common proposals is that Republican leaders draw back to their conservative roots in order to regain the respect and votes needed to reclaim power in congress andor the presidency Many of these values include upholding the constitutional right to bear arms maintaining the sanctity and dignity of human life preserving traditional marriage protecting hardworking Americans with low taX policies protection of small business a competitive freemarket economy GOPcom 2009 It is these values that define the GOP and these values that will bring the Republican Party into power once again Steele Chairman of the Republican National Committee argued this point during his candidacy for Chairman in November Olsen 5 We have a message Ithink of empowerment and ownership and opportunity that resonates United States with Americans The fundamentals of our party have not changed So I m ready to lead it I stand in the traditions of this party I stand for the values that we have fought for The value of family The value of life Born and unborn The value of community The value of opportunity The value of growth I want to see us return to the principles of this party We are the conservative voice in America That is something that speaks to tradition It speaks to progress It speaks to the future There s a hunger out there there s a thirst for us to reassert ourselves on issues that are of importance to the American people To bring to those issues the values that we hold dear We need to be ourselves stay true to those core values and speak to them Yeah we39ve got some soulsearching to do Let s do that but let39s focus on a positive agenda that speaks about what America can be and what America can do Reuters When Mike Duncan previous Chairman of the Republican National Committee was asked whether he thought the Republican Party had lost its way in light of the past election he also replied with remarks on the value of core conservative beliefs holding the party together He believes that the Party is headed in the right direction because the American people still believe the same values that got Reagan and Bush elected into office Reuters 2008 These leaders of the party are determined to help the Republican minority rise again And they believe that the best way to do that is to reaffirm the solid principles of the traditional Republican Party They also refute the argument made by leaders such as Crist who say that the Party should shift left by arguing that America doesn t need two Democratic Parties They argue instead with the emphasis on conservative values the party can grab a hold of our government once again However modeling a traditional republican platform like that of Reagan alone will not cause the party to resume power in the future Republicans must combine these values with charisma and a new face of hope for the future in order to recapture the Republican voters and simultaneously bring in new groups such as the younger generation Olsen 6 III Examples of Successful Leaders If Republicans wish to dig themselves out of this sinkhole then they must utilize history and model their approach after political gures that have been successful in the past at appealing to the American people bringing in the younger generation and leading our country affectively They must strengthen the unity within the party by utilizing strategies from all different factions of Republicans Fundamentalists Orthodox and Reformists A Reagan One of the best examples for the Republicans to model themselves after is Ronald Reagan Years ago Reagan a fundamentalist captured the hearts of Americans and young voters through his message of magnetism and his visions of economic renaissance Reagan was the cutting edge of the last realignment in American politics With a goodnatured civil appeal to Democrats who felt abandoned by their own party under Jimmy Carter Reagan revolutionized the reach of his own party He didn t aim for a mere plurality as Bill Clinton did Nor did he try for a polarizing 51 strategy as George W Bush has done He ran as a national candidate in search of a national mandate a proud Republican who nonetheless wanted Democrats to vote for him He came out of a period in which Americans had become sickened by the incompetence of their own government Reagan shocked America s elites by pivoting that discontent into a victory in 1980 And by his second term he won 49 out of 50 states Sullivan Reagan ran as a man of integrity with an agenda to fix America after previous presidents appeared to abandon the country He believed that The preservation and enhancement of the values that strengthen and protect individual freedom family life communities and neighborhoods and the liberty of our beloved nation should be at the heart of any legislative or political program presented to the American people Reagan 2020 2009 Olsen 7 Although he was a religious conservative he kept his faith private and focused on the needs of the American people while asserting a strong Republican agenda that was necessary to help America progress While it is apparent that Reagan has been one of the most popular presidents of the twentieth century politicians such as eXRepublicanex OMB Dir Rob Portman argue times have changed and simply modeling Reagan s platform will not work Although this is a difficult task leaders need to combine his values integrity and platform with his infamous charisma and political stamina They need to appeal to more than just the southern conservatives who would vote Republican due to partisanship rather than the candidate Reagan was a Republican who wanted Democratic votes too and he achieved that even while standing by the principles of his party The modern Republican Party must do that too in order to reclaim the map There is an understandable nostalgia in the GOP for Ronald Reagan He grew the party and was a popular president while staying true to core values But I believe we sometimes overlook what made him successful Based on core conservative beliefs he fashioned innovative and ultimately successful solutions to seemingly intractable challenges of his time a dysfunctional welfare system the Cold War stag ation from the Carter years and increased levels of violent crime among others And he effectively communicated his policies in a way that resonated with the American people His simple and clear explanations his relentless optimism about America and his focus on results not partisan advantage allowed him to reach beyond the Republican Party to garner support We must do the same thing Reuters This is the Reagan that the conservatives must model They must take his energy and passion and simultaneously assert their traditional values in a way with which the emerging generation will connect It is very likely that by the time the elections of 2010 and 2012 roll around that the American people will still be looking for a savior With the current state of the economy and the war in Iraq many political scientists are predicting that even Obama will not please the American people in time for reelection This could Olsen 8 potentially leave a window of opportunity for the GOP to bring a new face of idealism energy and optimism to seize our country from its imminent demise It is through this form of charisma optimism energy and endurance of core values campaigned and presented by Reagan that he was successful in taking a hold of the votes of not only the Democrats but the young generation as well B Kennedy A second example of a successful leader is John Kennedy Many would advise against modeling a Democratic president s approach to campaigning Of course the Republicans cannot and should not model his policies but they should learn from his charismatic and social campaigning strategies JFK was a president whom refused to be trapped in the patterns of the past he saw the world clearly without being cynical he was a fighter he cared passionately about the causes he believed in and asserted them without demonizing those who held a different view Goldenberg He was successful because he brought in not only the votes of loyal democrats but also the votes of the historically abstinent younger generation Kennedy stressed the importance of a leader who can lead the younger generation and he defined skills that go along with that ability John Kennedy the youngest elected president at age 43 presented his campaign as a political comingofage for a new generation Contrasting himself with his elderly predecessor Dwight Eisenhower Kennedy projected an image of youthful vigor with images of him sailing on the ocean or playing touch football and frequent references to his young family He inaugurated his presidency by announcing that quotthe torch has been passed to a new generationquot Higgs Here we see another important aspect for a successful Republican political campaign Anyone who attempts to lead this party must also learn from McCain and distance him or herself from the past It is widely believed that Bush s endorsement and Olsen 9 association with John McCain in the previous election greatly hurt McCain s public image Many people perceived him as being another George W Bush and it is no secret that Bush is very unpopular Part of Kennedy s success was his image of change and reform and the future He did this partly by distancing himself from Dwight Eisenhower who like Bush was not a favorite of the public The Republican Party must learn from Kennedy and project a new image not an old image like that of the Bush Dynasty C Obama Although Reagan and Kennedy were popular presidents in their day and still in ours times have undoubtedly changed since their administrations They provide great examples for us to model but there has recently emerged a new icon that learned from these two great presidents of the past took this knowledge and put it into action to win the hearts of the American people in 2008 He did not only appeal to millions of liberal voters but he brought out the political in uence of the younger generation after years of political apathy from the age group eighteen to twentynine 1 College Age Is Proven to Have the Lowest Voter Turnout of All Ages It has been a wellknown fact that young people from the ages eighteen to twenty nine continuously have the lowest voter turnout rates of all age groups Lauren Higgs reporter for Children and Young People Now wrote an article regarding young voter turnout in 2007 She discusses young voter turnout is at a historical low and then proposes ideas to help excite this age group in politics Only 56 per cent of 18 to 24 yearolds sees voting as a civic duty compared with more than 90 per cent ofpeople aged over 65 On top of this six out of 10 young voters think political parties are failing to engage young people and the turnouts at the past two general elections have been Olsen 10 the second and third worst since 1900 However despite this apparent apathy 86 per cent of young people surveyed said that they want speci c youth manifestos for their constituencies The gures published to coincide with the Labour Party Conference form part of The Battle to Engage report an offshoot of 4Chi1dren s Make Space Youth Review Oona King former MP and author of the report said We must heed this call for change and invent new governance structures that empower young people39 Olson 2 The College Vote Has and Will Make a Difference in the Elections Although young people have a reputation for political ignorance and apathy it is no secret that the 2008 election brought in the most young voters history is yet to see This recent 2008 election of President Obama has proven that if given a reason young people will vote Not only has the election proven that the young generation can be drawn into politics it has also shown that in several swing states the votes of the below thirty age group turned the state from Red to Blue playing a part in Obama s victory Young Americans can finally shake off their reputation for civic apathy Young people appear to have voted in higher numbers than ever before preliminary reports show And analysts say this demographics heavy tilt toward Barack Obama was a determining factor in his historic victory n estimated 24 million Americans ages 18 to 29 voted in this election an increase in youth turnout by at least 22 million over 2004 reports CIRCLE a nonpartisan organization that promotes research on the political engagement of young Americans That puts youth turnout somewhere between 493 and 545 percent meaning 19 percent more young people voted this year than in 2004 estimates John Della Volpe the director of polling for the Harvard Institute of Politics And that s a conservative estimate Della Volpe says Dahl C How Did He Do It It is no mystery that Obama is a man with the gift of charisma but he also had a campaign that was aimed at America s youth and proved to be a revolution Even Fox news commended Obama on his adamant success in luring young people to the polls Olsen 11 He s got social networking pages online He visits college campuses where enthusiastic student groups lobby hard to get their peers involved in politics Those are by now triedandtrue tactics on the presidential campaign trail But there is more to Barack Obama s popularity among young voters than his ability to simply reach out to them What Obama seems to have is an quotitquot factor 7 an unusual ability to not only engage young voters but to get them to actually show up at the polls He did it when he ran for the US Senate in Illinois in 2004 He did so again in the 2008 primaries Irvin Clearly these tactics highlighted by Obama are useful The GOP needs to concoct new strategies that appeal to the younger generation They need to lead the party with optimism and con dence They need to put a fresh face on the party For too long the party has been a slave to Kevin Phillips stereotype as the party of the unblack unyoung and unpoor It is time for that to change Obama brought life to the Democratic Party by pushing the ideas of hope change and the future and that is largely attributed to his victory Reformist Republicans believe that the GOP must bring in the votes of the younger generation and the way to this age group s heart is through messages of the future It is the younger generation of the present who will have to deal with the astronomical federal debt in the future It is their future not the future of some old rich white man who will probably topple over and die before his term ends Obama hit a homerun with this concept when appealing to the young people of America in his campaign quotIn this election it s our turn It39s your generation39s turnquot Obama told a cheering crowd of college political activists that filled a ballroom at the University of South Carolina student union and over owed into a nearby theater quotLet s bring a new generation of leadership to Americaquot Doming We did not hear much news about McCain s appeal to the younger generation during his campaign instead the media was Olsen 12 ooded with news of Obama s YouTube videos and Facebook web pages The Obama transition team already has moved to capitalize on this enormous youth base Webcasting the presidentelect s weekly addresses on YouTube communicating its transition steps on a postelection website Changegov and reaching out by email to many of the campaign s 3 million donors amassed during a nearly twoyear campaign The team also has taken advantage of booming social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace in reaching out to younger voters in their own element quot1 really enjoyed that during the campaign There were constant emails about what we can doquot King said quotThe lntemet and Facebook is the way to keep in touch with our generationquot Experts say factors that contributed to increasing youth turnout at the polls will be key to continuing this engagement as an election season fades into governance Olson At first using Facebook to promote a political campaign seems ridiculous However it is true that Facebook is the most popular social networking site of the twentyfirst century Obama proved that taking advantage of this network of collegeaged Americans was a successful campaigning tool D The GOP Needs to Learn From this and Apply to their Party and Campaigning If the GOP hopes to take back control then they must work to expand their coalition beyond the walls of the traditional evangelical Christians This can be done without changing policies but instead by changing targets The GOP can rest at peace knowing they will continue to receive the protestant Christian votes the southern votes and the base coalition that they have now and always have had on their side These social conservatives will never be caught voting for a prochoice or antigun party Keep the traditional values and they will keep the traditional voters Therefore instead of focusing on this coalition the Republican leaders must focus on targeting the younger generation in their future campaigns to bring in additional votes and expand their coalition This is one Olsen 13 of the keys to the revival of the GOP IV What the Party CANNOT D0 Finally through analysis of previous successful campaigns of Reagan Kennedy and Obama we can draw a conclusion as to how the GOP will be able to regain its status and prestige that it once carried and bring unity to the party First we must admit and agree that simply altering political stances on controversial issues such as immigration abortion homosexual marriage gun laws and the economy will not help the party in the end It is the true reality that eventually all candidates are forced to compromise towards the middle anyway We see Obama as a prime example Even though he had the most liberal voting record in the senate for the past four years once he was in office he was forced to simmer down It is clear that altering their coalition will not help the GOP to gain any foothold in the election of 2012 or any other time in the near future If they become more conservative they risk losing their moderate votes If they become more liberal they are condemning themselves to losing the countless people who have stood by them for the past century the protestant Christians the southemers the hockey moms and so on Jacobs and Shapiro communicate this point through their analysis of the Media and its effect on campaigns priming and political images Research has been focused on the media because it provides individuals with much of their information and therefore may be a primary stimulus for accessing attitudes Indeed studies of individuals have found that emphasis on a particular policy issue in the media may prime or temporarily increase the accessibility of these attitudes For instance as media coverage and discussion of health care reform increases the salience of the issue the greater will be the probability that an individual s attitudes toward that issue will be activated and will become the standard by which he or she evaluates other attitude objects like candidates or related issues The process of priming then does not depend on altering an individual s policy preferences Indeed changing the public s policy Olsen 14 preferences is quite unlikely Rather priming involves two processes 1 it sets the agenda by focusing public attention on certain topics and 2 it provides the main basis for evaluation Thus the message communicates through and by the media during signi cantly in uence which attitudes and information are likely to be retrieved or accessed from memory and incorporated into voters judgments about and ultimate choices of candidates Jacobs and Shapiro V By Combining These Three Historical Examples The Republican Palty Can Unite and Excel With the understanding that traditional policies must not change we are able to conclude how the Republican Party ought to go about regaining political power Although these three Leaders whom I ve used as examples are good they re not the only Politicians that can be learned from Barry Goldwater Howard Taft and Newt Gingrich are also known for their impact on politics and their part in the republican Revolution However the three gures chosen are merely three examples not the only examples with valuable lessons to teach both parties Reagan Kennedy and Obama offer powerful tools and plans of action for the revival of the Republican Party First they must stand by their traditional coalition and platform with leaders of integrity and charisma as Reagan did in 1981 and 1985 Just as Reagan was a national candidate with a national mandate the Republicans must be as well Reuters This will continue to draw in fundamental conservatives who are key to the coalition and even potentially more voters as well Second the Party must focus on improving the image that they represent Just as Kennedy shifted the attention and distanced himself from the previous unpopular Eisenhower the Republicans must do the same thing in upcoming elections They must present fresh new leaders who will restore the image of the party and bring in new votes not offer a third George Bush as the Republican Nominee Third the GOP must adapt their campaigning strategies to appeal to a broader coalition The Republicans sat back Olsen 15 and watched while Obama brought in the young people who have been known for their political apathy and now they must model his tactics to do the same for their bene t This search for new ideas will unite the Reformist Republicans with the Fundamentalists and the Orthodox Republicans preventing a potential split in the Party while strengthening and expanding their coalition through the sustenance of traditional voters and the addition of the younger generation Olsen 16 Bibliography Dahl Melissa Young Voter Turnout Sets New Record MSNBC 05 Nov 2008 lthttpwwwmsnbccomgt Doming Mike Obama s Honest Youth ll Image Strategy to Show Himself as a Voice for Change Chicago Tribune 30 Jul 2007 lthttpwwwchicagotribunecomnewspo1iticsobamachiobama youth730ju13001634177storygt Exit Polls 2008 CNN 04 Nov 2008 lthttpwwwcnncomELECTION2008resu1tspollsgt Goldenberg Suzanne The coronation Ted Kennedy passes JFK mantle on to Obama The Guardian 29 Jan 2008 lthttp www guardiancou1dwor1d 200 8 j an 29 usabarackobamagt GOP Platform GOPcom 2008 lthttpwwwgopcom2008P1atformgt Higgs Lauren The Numbers Game 7 Voting Children Now 3 Oct 2007 Irvin Martha Obama Appeals to Young Voters Fox News 06 Jan 2008 Jacobs Lawrence and Shapiro Robert Issues Candidate Image and Priming m American Political Science Review Vol 88 No 3 Sep 1994 pp 527 540 Olson Laura The election s over but Democrats want to hold on to under30 voters as campaigning moves to governing Las Angeles Times 23 Nov 2008 lthttpartic1es1atimescom2008nov23nationnayouth23gt Reagan2020 Federalism and the New Conservatism 1981 lt httpreagan2020usgt Reuters Thomas Man of Steele The Hotline 14 Nov 2008 Sullivan Andrew Obama Emerges as Liberal Reagan who can Reunite America Sunday Times 6 Jan 2008 lthttpwww quot quot co 39 t lcomm 39 39 audwwisullivan artic1e3137473ecegt Waldman Paul What Will the Next Republican Coalition Look Like The American Prospect Liberal Intelligence 6 Jan 2009 Olsen 17