Why the GOP Will Double Down on a Losing Strategy

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Christopher Morris / VII for TIME

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan campaign in Findley, Ohio, nine days before the presidential election

Some elements of the Republican agenda are standard for a center-right party: lower taxes, smaller government, less regulation. But in the Obama era, the GOP has pushed far beyond center right. In 2008 every Republican presidential candidate had an economic-stimulus plan — Romney’s was the largest — and John McCain, the nominee, had a cap-and-trade plan for energy. By 2009 the GOP was united against stimulus, cap-and-tax and a health care plan nearly identical to the one Romney crafted in Massachusetts. Polls show increasing support in the U.S. for gay rights and broad support for clean energy, but most Republicans are superglued to the other side. The party has also doubled down on its unpopular efforts to protect Wall Street from regulation, eliminate funding for Big Bird and extend tax cuts for the rich. Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, authored a bold plan to end Medicare’s guarantees and shrink nondefense spending, but it was so politically toxic that the Romney campaign abandoned it, relentlessly attacking Obama for Medicare cuts that were part of Ryan’s plan as well.

The GOP’s moderate wing has been dwindling for years. Olympia Snowe’s retirement and Scott Brown’s defeat will leave Susan Collins as about the only Republican centrist in the Senate. And on Capitol Hill, even pragmatically inclined conservatives have been reluctant to compromise with Obama on anything, aware that even minor deviations could inspire the free-market Club for Growth to bankroll a Tea Party primary challenge like the ones that ended the careers of Senators Bob Bennett of Utah and Richard Lugar of Indiana. Club for Growth president Chris Chocola recalls that Utah’s Orrin Hatch, who had a reputation as an ideological squish, called him the day after Bennett lost — and has been a reliable conservative ever since to protect his right flank. “Members take notice of what we do, and that’s great,” Chocola says. “We’re not interested in helping Republicans win a majority so they can grow government a bit slower than the Democrats. We want to elect principled fiscal conservatives.”

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To party elites like lobbyist Ed Rogers, there’s a fine line between principled fiscal conservatism, which he supports, and politically suicidal dogmatism, which leads to candidates like Akin and Mourdock. “We have an angry fist-shaking caucus that says losing with purity is better than winning with nuance, which is crazy,” Rogers says. For four years, Republican politicians have portrayed Obama as a dangerous radical and fought him full time. It’s going to be hard to cut deals with him to solve problems like the looming fiscal cliff without alienating Republican voters who believed what they said. “We’re probably one e-mail away from Benghazi being an impeachable offense for much of our party,” Rogers says. “I think that’s nuts, but that’s where we are right now.”

There are already signs that the party of no intends to continue its strategy of no. Even before the election, House Speaker John Boehner warned that he’d have a mandate too and that Obama would poison the well by pursuing Democratic priorities in a second term. “Obama seems to think that we’re going to have an epiphany and do what he wants us to do. That’s not going to happen,” says Cole, who is on the dealmaking side of the GOP divide. Rogers, another political pragmatist, is just as insistent that Republicans will not let Obama have his way. “You won’t see any me-too-ism. None. Zero,” he says. “Nothing about this election will diminish the right wing.”

How Long Will It Take?
The GOP response to huge losses in 2006 and 2008 was to move even further right. Many Republicans believe that President George W. Bush’s problem was overspending and that McCain was too liberal as well. That strategy worked in 2010, and many conservatives think it could have worked again in 2012 if Romney had been a credible spokesman for their principles. Chocola points out that his predecessor at the Club for Growth, Pat Toomey, is now a blue-state Senator from Pennsylvania. “There’s a great power in a clear message,” Chocola says. “Romney always had a sincerity problem.”

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As centrists have abandoned the GOP, the power of the base has gotten even stronger inside the party, further reducing the allure of centrist policies, which has further alienated centrists. It’s a closed feedback loop, and GOP veterans do not expect Tuesday’s disappointing but not catastrophic losses to break it before the next election cycle. The party’s voters and funders are not looking for compromise, so its leaders are likely to double down on fossil-fueled, Wall Street–friendly obstructionism. Ryan, a devout supply-sider who is also more socially conservative than Romney, is likely to emerge as an even more central player in Congress and in the offstage struggle to lead the party; Rubio and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal have similar ideological profiles and ambitions. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who had won fans with his aggressive liberal-bashing despite some policy moderation, infuriated many in the party with his enthusiastic praise of Obama after Hurricane Sandy.

Of course, 2016 is ages from now. While there will surely be some intraparty sniping during the next few months, for now, Republicans seem likely to stick with their playbook and cater to their base. Even as that base gets older, angrier and less representative of America.

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278 comments
T.P.Chia
T.P.Chia

The 2008 and 2012 presidential elections have firmly established a voting pattern that signals the beginning of an era of social liberalism that will witness the dominion of the Democratic Party.  The minoritiers, moderate white democrats (male and female) and younger voters will continue to control the future of American politics.. They are unlikely to abandon the Democratic Party, which has been representing and serving the interests of the ordinary Americans, especially the working class and the poor.

No matter how much the GOP redesigns its platforms and strategies, its ideological beliefs and values will remain an obstacle in trying to reach the minorities and  moderate voters.

The GOP is basically a white-Christian party and ideologically and religiously conservative. It is more concerned with its ideological values and religious principles than the general welfare of the American people.  It is oriented to the rich and less interested in helping the needy, and its policies are more ideolgical than realistic or pragmatic. More than 50% of the American people do not support its policies and vision for the nation.. 

Unless the moderate wing takes control of the party, the decline of GOP is destined.    From now on, it is no longer possible for a Republican candidate to win the presidency without a substantial support from the minorities.

thequeenbee9
thequeenbee9

I do indeed think the dems do the same which is probably why I voted Libertarian in the last election. but ehre is the thing:  while I fully expect democrats to get in my pocket and even engage in programs I do not condone for the sake of entitlements or moving their agenda, I also fully expect them to stay out from between my legs and my bedroom which means a lot to me. It is not about tatics only that make people despise the republican party--it really is the platform.  Socially controlling and invasive platforms that either penalize, minimalize or dehumanize voters is not going to attract any groups who feel the bite of such intrusion. I don't have any love for democrats but if I must choose between the two--due to the antics and idealogy of the GOP, I can live with a democratic government--I am against wars based on lies and intrusion--so it is harder to live with the ideas and agenda of the far right.  It really is the platform  and the behvior of the base that loses votes for the GOP not the color of the man heading the ticket or what ethnicity he represents.

BruceDuggan
BruceDuggan

Democrats will continue to pray that Republicans continue to believe that "Republicans had right ideas, but bad campaign". The danger, of course, is that Republicans will be spanked hard enough in 2014 that they'll actually change course in time for 2016.

JohnYuEsq
JohnYuEsq

The Age of Jackson, by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. 

Edward N. Saveth — February 1946

Liberalism’s Ebb And Flow

America, educate thyself.

kitfattorini
kitfattorini

Seeing as roughly 279 members of congress(including Boehmer, Ryan, and Romney) have signed a pledge to Grover Norquist promising they will NEVER raise taxes, it seems that it will be pretty difficult to get anything done.

I would think  that the members of congress should  sign a pledge to their democratically elected president rather that a rich lobbyist who doesn't reveal where his money is coming from.

Jahn7
Jahn7

The election was not a blowout.  Every state up for  grabs that obama won, he won close. Republicans had right ideas, but bad campaign.   

usn10442
usn10442

I was a centrist republican all of my life until this latest election when it finally got to be too much. I've now changed my affiliation to independent. My party has been stolen by untra conservatives. When I identified myself as a centrist, I was called a RINO. When I said I would leave the party, I was told" good riddance". Hmm, I wonder if the last gasp of the Whigs was like this, because that land of oblivian is where Republicans are heading if they don't become more inclusive.

JamesWallace77
JamesWallace77

If Mitchell, Boehner, Cantor and their Tea Party irregulars cannot bring themselves to work constructively with the “other side” they will find themselves outsourced in 2014. America has voted its choice. That will mean the Democratic Party will control BOTH the Senate and House for the last two years of President Obama’s term. Perhaps then we can see some actual progress.

Baab
Baab

The GOP has a long, hard re-branding effort in front of itself.

GOP = "Gringos-Only Party" 

Coach63DH
Coach63DH

A good gambler "knows when to hold and when to fold."  A bad gambler is called a "fish,"  The Republican Party is reeking of rotten fish.

Shakespeare_in_GA
Shakespeare_in_GA

I don't think the GOP is broadening its appeal.  Instead it is putting up poster-ready candidates and saying, "See?  We like brown people, too!"  I am not saying this to denigrate Rubio, Martinez, or Cruz, but I think their popularity in the GOP is mostly due to the  right's perception that having Hispanic conservatives is an antidote to the perception of the GOP as a whites-only club.  If you still believe that climate change isn't happening, or that trickle-down economic policies are the way to go, or that evolution is a lie "straight from the pits of hell" (thanks, Georgia Congressman Broun), or that gay rights will destroy the sanctity of marriage, or that Obama is a crypto-Muslim anti-American Kenyan socialist, then it wouldn't matter if your spokesperson were Marco Rubio or Herman Cain or Oprah Winfrey.  

Shorter version: it ain't the messenger, it's the message.

oldwhiteguy
oldwhiteguy

The line on Fox now seems to be that the takers now officially outnumber the providers and have voted the evil Obama into office so they can line up at the "gimme" window. And that this was Obama's liberal/socialist plan all along.  Hence, companies are laying off workers and gun sales are going up.  Assuming the crazies will always be with us, the question is, are they going to nominate the next Republican candidate and write the next Republican platform?  Will they drive Republican legislators toward more pouting and foot stomping?  Or will the adults take back the party reins?  Well, like any alcoholic, you can't get well until you realize you're sick.  You would think that Wednesday's hangover would tell them something.

MaureenOwen
MaureenOwen

"I see a very unified, very conservative party that’s very alarmed about the growth of government."

I see. Where was this party in 2000-2008, when U.S. government grew at its fastest rate ever, including domestic programs?

THENEWUSA
THENEWUSA

The Republican Party IS REALLY Fox News  ( A European man named Rupert Murdoch)  He controls Bill O'Reilly and ALL on FOX News He controls ALL the conservative Media in the USA and UK. He is the secret Behind the Republican Party.He printed the fake Polls that Romney was winning. He even owns the News York Post. BUSH,ROMNEY,TRUMP ALL ARE CONTROLLED BY HIM  SEE HEREhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NFKZ_G79eo

Galen
Galen

the party of Stupid always doubles down stupidly!!

they rationalize, blame and find the necessary weak excuses and do it all over again. as a progressive, i say please keep it up, Hil is next.

when your thinking is based on 18th and 19th century mentality, and you think you are the party of the constitution and founder-speak, you stay ignorant, centuries behind with the same bullying stubbornness of this white male arrogant party.

PLEASE PLEASE CONTINUE what got you in this mess GOP, the party of Baggers and Thumpers (bible).

YesterdaysWine
YesterdaysWine

And they are starting to kiss the "Old South" goodbye... Virginia, Florida, and eventually NC... wait till they lose Texas.

nwjerseyliz
nwjerseyliz

@Leahey @brithume @foxnews I agree. If the GOP doesn't reexamine who they are, they will keep losing important elections.

oldwhiteguy
oldwhiteguy

Well, the answer is pretty simple. Adapt or die. I took note of this in the article:

"Some elements of the Republican agenda are standard for a center-right party: lower taxes, smaller government, less regulation."

I think the GOP has to reframe its brand premise to something like: fairer, just-enough taxes, the right size government and the right amount of regulation.  In denying the need for more more taxes and more government involvement given today's world and our situation in it, the GOP flies in the face of most economists and frankly, common sense.  Most people would agree with the timeless admonition to find "balance in all things."  By wanting to "strangle the beast" of government, insisting on an out-of-touch social agenda and basically laying on the floor of Congress refusing to contribute, the GOP left the center-right position and lost all credibility.  But like the stock market, the real estate market or anything else, just because something is headed in a particular direction does not mean it won't change.  In fact, historically it WILL change.  It's only a question of when.  The GOP has a great opportunity right now, more than Obama in fact.  He has his place in history to worry about for this, his second term.  They have their own survival.

hy
hy

Extremism is antithetical to democracy.

End of the "stupid party," party of war, hate, misogyny, and xenophobia. Party of willful duplicity. 

But it's not the end of the story because the extremists that make up most of the party now, will not go away, but live on to continue to support anyone willing to manipulate them.

jemalone
jemalone

It is clear that Republicans have never gotten over 2008. They were so shocked that their fellow Americans could not recognize that they alone were entitled to be the leaders of America and the free world. As such they believe they are entitled to set the values by which all Americans live and how other countries should govern themselves, regardless of the facts. They still yearn for the American of the 40s and 50s when segregation, intolerance, bigotry and suppression of rights for minorities were the norm.

American and Americans have evolved since then and will continue to do so. Republicans need to do some serious soul searching and get on board. I hope some of the clearer thinking Republicans will have the courage to not be bullied by the tea party and join forces within their party to bring about a change of thought and direction within the party.

Piacevole
Piacevole

How  about a pledge to their constituents, to do what they were sent there to do?  Or is that a totally outrageous suggestion?

merich316
merich316

@kitfattorini I like how they seem to think a pledge to Norquist is more important then their pledge to support our country.

Piacevole
Piacevole

The Republicans had bad ideas AND an unconvincing campaign.  For one thing, most of their campaign was against something: they would repeal this, they would end that, they would diminish programs Americans love and depend upon. 

For another thing, Romney was a singularly weathervanish candidate.  Did the wind blow from this quarter?  Fine, he'd swing that way.  From the opposite direction?  Oh, just as good.  He'd point that way.  Someplace in between?  No problem, a minor adjustment.  Ryan pointed one way pretty much all the time, but it was the wrong way, from the point of view of too many Americans.  And so the Republicans lost.  They were doomed by demographics, yes, but also by their Etch-a-Sketch and their generally ugly ideas.

Omegaomni
Omegaomni

7lol a campaign  is a business- that means the republicans are bad atbusiness. They failed to capture the consumer with their product. Republicans ran on the idea that they knew business lol ironic

Please rebutt by insulting voters like Limbaugh and O reilly

MelissaSkinnder
MelissaSkinnder

@usn10442 And they never will become more inclusive, because they are fascists now. The only way is for that party to die and a new republican party takes its place. That will take another decade I imagine.

Piacevole
Piacevole

A bad gambler has a poor grasp of probability.  Mitt Romney's failure to even prepare a concession speech said volumes about his thinking.  President Obama had a speech for either eventuality, AND a good idea of the probability.  Who was correct, and against whom would you rather bet?

Kiwipolitico6
Kiwipolitico6

@Shakespeare_in_GA I see Rubio is already heading to Iowa for some kind of appearance there - it's looking a lot like a 2016 Presidential bid already.  Regardless of the ethics of appealing shamelessly to the Latino voter, nominating Rubio, who is not only Cuban-American, but also sufficiently Conservative to appeal to the right wing party base, would be a pretty clever move on the GOP's part.  I believe that's why Rubio counted himself out of the VP nomination -he may have seen the writing on the wall for this election for the GOP, and didn't want his future prospects being tarred with the brush of a failed Romney-Rubio bid.

thequeenbee9
thequeenbee9

In actuality, many republicans are "takers" and make up large parts of the 47% paying far less in taxes (or no taxes ) than they should. that ismedicare are  the ugly secret--welfare is over 75% whites (the quintessential poster child for welfare isa  black female) and that the poorest states receiving the most government aid in welfare, foodstamps and Republican controlled states.  Is there anything worse than a self righteous hypocrite?

Piacevole
Piacevole

Unfortunately, they tend to think in terms of "hair of the dog" with regard to hangovers.

dubya4517
dubya4517

@THENEWUSA, that's one cable news station vs ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, as well as the Washington Post, NY Times, the LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Tribune,  and a number of others... and you fear it. You fear this one man. That says a heck of a lot more about you than it does about him.

thequeenbee9
thequeenbee9

It might be best if the party actually start living up to their platform.  The republican party likes to speak about and campaign on smaller goernment, fiscal responsibility, and personal freedom--but in reality, they have been teh worse stewards of all three.   Case in point the actions during 2000-2008 including the population of the SCOTUS and the ok for intrusions like wiretapping us.  IT does not matter what people claim to stand for if it can repeatedly shown they ignore their own so called moral agenda (like family values)

ChrisGustin
ChrisGustin

@jemalone Are you sure there is such a thing as "clearer thinking Republicans?"  I can hardly even talk to some of my friends and family (including my parents) because they drank the right-wing kool-aid and are out in cuckoo land.  I just can't force myself to believe what they do, because I can clearly see that it's a crock of sh**.

thequeenbee9
thequeenbee9

due to gerrymandering, the majority of  their "constituents" are white Republicans which is why it will be hard to unseat them--they cater to the most base of their base--because that is who puts them in office.  They got reelected because their districts were redrwn to ensure the majority of voters in their areas were from their own party.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@Kiwipolitico6 @Shakespeare_in_GA The problem is most Hispanics don't like Cubans who they feel have always gotten a preferred treatment from the government when it comes to immigration. This is why Cubans are the one Hispanic group that tends to favor Republicans.

Piacevole
Piacevole

I was amused when Ryan continued to advertise his House campaign in Wisconsin.  Hedging his bets.  It turned out to be a good move, too.

dubya4517
dubya4517

@thequeenbee9 , absolutely right! Why, just look what the Democrats did as soon as they got control of both houses of Congress in the 2006 elections. First, they got rid of the Patriot Act, then they cut spending, and then they cleaned up Congressional corruption... oh wait, they did none of these things. They had to wait until Obama was elected and then they had control of both the executive and Legislative branches and they did those things. Oh, wait, they didn't. Instead, they expanded the Patriot Act, expanded government, and increased spending. 

There are none so blind as those who will not see.

dubya4517
dubya4517

@ChrisGustin @jemalone  Isn't this interesting? Two people with absolute firm beliefs that they are correct and anyone who does not agree has drunk the "right-wing kool-aid" or has been "bullied by the tea party". Perhaps, Chris, some of your friends and family (maybe even your parents) are not "out in cuckoo land" but are actually wiser than you? I know, that would be difficult to grasp since you can "clearly see that it's a crock of sh**". But maybe that "crock of sh**" is what you believe and they are right?


Because reading your two comments makes me wonder where you got all that hate from.

dubya4517
dubya4517

@usn10442 You will get nowhere trying to use logic and reason. Political parties die out, in my opinion, not because they are not inclusive but because they lose sight of their principles or fail to convince others to follow their political ideology. In fact, trying to be more inclusive may hasten a political party's demise because it can demand the party give up its principles or compromise them. Maybe both major parties need to die. Perhaps we need to develop three or more new political parties: liberal, conservative, and moderate. But we, the people, would have to be a bit more rational, logical, and informed before that can happen.

usn10442
usn10442

@dubya4517 @MelissaSkinnder  Poor Melissa, she read my comment, liked it, but never truly understood it. I wasn't giving a ringing endorsement of the liberal agenda. I was bemoaning the absolute polarization of BOTH parties. One side "Fascist" the other "Communist"? C'mon all of you. We must get our finances under control, but not by slighting our old folks or our poor. The comments I see here prove my point. Neither side listens to the other. No one is ready to see the other's point of view. The Republican party will die if it does not become more inclusive, but the super liberal agenda will kill our country by bankrupting it. We MUST get together and reach a consensus that will work for ALL of us. Liberals watch MSNBC. Conservatives watch FOX news. You both only want to listen to commentary that furthers your own point of view. Stop the name calling and act as Americans. Do what's good for America and that means for all Americans.

dubya4517
dubya4517

@MelissaSkinnder   my bet is that you really do not understand the term "fascist." The thing that I find interesting is that conservatives will adhere to principle and go against party from time to time while "progressive" Democrats do not. There are some that have voted against party on the left but these are rarer than hen's teeth, it seems. Why else would Democrats always (and I do mean "always") push for, and expect, Republicans to compromise? And why else would Republicans willingly do so?  But I fully realize that you, in particular, do not see that. For the very same reasons that you think Republicans do not see it in themselves. You are constantly bombarded with the Left's ideological view of things. Have you never wondered why you (and I would also bet) all those you associate with believe the things you do? Have you ever questioned your own world view? I suspect not.

MelissaSkinnder
MelissaSkinnder

@dubya4517 @thequeenbee9 Nope,, both parties do not "seem" to put party over country...only the Repubs put their party over country. That is because that is a basic FASCIST trait, and the republican party is a fascist party. Period. But you don't see that. Because you don't want to see that. Fascism is a form of brainwashing, which is why you don't see it. It plays on YOUR hate and fears. so, you want to be bidoted against Democrats or Libertarians and you wont' believe anything that detracts from that.

It is sad, indeed, really. For history has shown that the end of fascism is the dustbin of history. That's where the repubicans are headed to And good riddance to you fascists.

dubya4517
dubya4517

@thequeenbee9 I agree that gerrymandering should be outlawed. But it won't happen because no political party wants to give up that power. You do know that 

Of course, you overlook the attempt by Hillary Clinton supporters raising the "birther" issue during the 2008 primaries. And her husband playing teh "race card" in North Carolina.

 I would quote from a source on this but Time does not allow it.. Of course it's silly to believe such things, just as silly as believing the WTC attacks were an "inside job" yet a lot of liberals (and Democrats) still believe that.

 Both major parties seem to put party over country and have for many, many years. There is no blanket bigotry in the Republican Party. There is some incipient bigotry there, just as there is in the Democratic Party. My brother (one of those "truthers") is a Democrat; he hates Hispanics (especially Cubans), Jews, and blacks as an example. I have seen it over and over. I have a great many acquaintances who are hard-core Democrats and an awful lot of them are bigots.

But you don't see that. Because you don't want to see that. You want to be bigoted against Republicans and you won't believe anything that detracts from that.

It's sad, really.

thequeenbee9
thequeenbee9

Democrats DO engage in it also--it should be outlawed.  Politial leaders should reflect their entire constituency, not the ones who belong to the same club as they do. Know why people are "Anti-Republican?  Besides the blatant bigotry, and petulance and pettiness of birth and Muslim issues, besides the inanity of trying to find impeachable stuff on Obama--it is because the GOP puts party over country--and that is more anti american than anything the dems have done  and is unforgeable to the rest of us.

dubya4517
dubya4517

@thequeenbee9 , gee... I wonder how that gerrymandering was done and if it was only done by Republicans. That would mean the Republicans had a majority in state houses everywhere. No? Then maybe Democrats engaged in it also. Maybe it's the Democrats who created these pockets of "white Republicans" (seems redundant since we all "know" only white people are Republican).

dubya4517
dubya4517

@ChrisGustin @dubya4517 @thequeenbee9 , Nice job of completely ignoring reality and parroting what you read on HuffPost or some such. Did I say under Obama? No, I just reported the reality of what the Democrats promised in 2006 and what they did after getting into control of both houses of Congress in 2007. Address that, not some fanciful garbage which cannot explain 3+ years of $Trillion deficits.