What are Republicans thinking?

Yes, I know that Republicans have a seemingly-commanding lead in the polls for the midterm elections in 2010. And I know that their base seemed more energized and that their politicians are becoming even more adept at using social media. But I can’t claim to understand Republican strategy – at least not their long-term strategy.

Republicans seem to be on the wrong side of every trending issue right now. Republican politicians remain relatively staunch opponents of same-sex marriage – even though opinion trends are changing and none more dramatically than among our youth. Although same-sex marriage may have been a “winner” for the past few years, how many more years will that hold? Even their own strategists are coming out of the closet.

Or what about their position on immigration? Republican support for stricter immigration policies – even John McCain just wants them to finish the fence – also seems like it is just going to get them in trouble. Although immigration is down, likely due to the economy, the number of Latino-Americans in the country is only going to rise.

Even their position on the mosque seems short-sighted. While people generally agree with their position and admit that while there is the right for a mosque, they would prefer it moved, I can’t help but hope that people’s attitudes become more genuinely accepting of religious freedoms.

So, in terms of long-term strategy, I wonder how their positions on these issues will affect their voter base in the next 10, 20+ years. It may be that these issues will become non-issues, but research tells us that social imagery of the parties lasts a long time. African-Americans remain one of the most reliable Democratic voting bases in the country, in large part due to Republican opposition during the 70s (and once upon a time, Republicans were the liberal party on civil rights). Will homosexuals and immigrants feel the same way in the future? Will the Republicans come to symbolize the party of intolerance for both cultural and religious differences?

The other point that confuses me is why Democrats don’t take better advantage of these lapses. Just in terms of political strategy, it seems that Democrats should be taking firm stands on these issues and aligning themselves with an emerging social norm (in terms of same-sex marriage) – or just emerging social reality (in terms of population demographics). Democrats’ stance on these issues also seems short-sighted – since they aren’t going to out-conservative the Republicans, why not be more passionate about the opposing position?

I know for politicians, each election is vital – it determines if they will have a job in the spring. But shouldn’t the whole point of parties be to provide a cohesive narrative for the future? Both parties appear caught up in the short term negotiations in trying to win the next election, rather than thinking about a policy for the future.


  1. Very true Mitch. I’ve thought for a long time know that Republicans are generally more savvy about how they respond to politics. I mean, “the death tax” is genius!

    I have to say, your piece on the Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mitchell-bard/is-the-gop-looking-out-fo_b_701326.html) partially inspired my post today, although you focus more on their tactics and I’m interested more in the parties’ strategic choices on issue positions.

  2. Pingback: What are Democrats thinking? « Emily K. Vraga

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