Combustibility: 3 Questions for the GOP

Category: By Christian
I hope the GOP gets stronger. We'd all be better off. In a two party system, bad things happen when only one of the parties can manage to be on message, laser focused and effective. Chances are that when one party stagnates, both parties will end up stagnating since the party that is more powerful will loose a lot of their motivation to innovate. Competition is good.

Once the GOP gets through deciding who to throw under the bus, there are some questions that I hope they find effective answers to.

1. How can the GOP make more people feel like they have a seat at the table? The Obama campaign did such a great job of making everyone feel like they were part of the campaign. They brought in a much higher proportion of the Hispanic vote. They got young people fired up. They even motivated a lot of black voter who don't typically vote. I know that in The Hope Center neighborhood, lines on election day were way longer than usual. Some people will contend that it's because there was a black candidate, but it seems like in KC there is always a black candidate. We had a black mayor who is now a congressperson. We also had another black mayoral candidate on the ballot in the last election. But a black candidate on the ballot doesn't necessarily equate to high turnout here.

The day after the election, I was sitting in the hospital lobby waiting for Stacy to meet me so we could grab lunch. There was a guy sitting buy me in his Obama shirt, and he was calling friends who didn't vote and calling them out on the carpet for their apathy. Man, you have to care a lot to call people out for not voting for a candidate who won without their vote.

From what I've been reading and hearing, our country will soon have a "Minority Majority" (more non-whites than whites). As that comes to fruition, the GOP needs to reach out more. As I was watching Palin's speech during the GOP convention, Stacy was sitting by me doing paperwork. She hadn't watched any of the DNC convention, and this was the first part of the GOP that she had caught. After a couple of minutes, she spoke up. "Was the Dem convention this white? This is ridiculous." When a white person says that after two minutes, you have a problem.

2. How Fully Does the GOP Believe in Free Markets? David Brooks was on a Jim Lehrer round table on the bailout one night and blew my mind. He said, "We've effectively socialized risk and privatized profit in the business sector." Wow. I'm an economic novice, but from what I have been learning about free markets I'm becoming more of a fan. But the frustration is that as much as the GOP talks about free markets, you don't really see it play out in real life. Yeah, it's painful when large companies fail. But when those companies are propping themselves up with Monopoly money, they have to blow up for the overall strength of the economy. You want free markets? Do it. But you have to have the stomach to let companies fail.

3. How Will the GOP Encounter the Broadening Ethics of the Evangelical Community? George W. Bush cleaned up in churches. The GOP was able to define the conversation on ethics and then leverage that conversation into a passionate base. But things have changed a lot in the last 8 years. Prominent evangelical voices have emerged, and now the conversation has broadened. The GOP got caught flat-footed on this one, and was late to the game in this election cycle in realizing that a lot of Christians now view the environment, peacemaking and economic justice issues as serious ethical concerns. And then add to that mix that a lot of pro-life folks like myself look at how the GOP has communicated it's pro-life agenda, and we're just not all that impressed. Because if the core of the strategy is to simply outlaw abortion, we're not addressing the underlying issues and complexities that contribute to the problem. Especially in low-income and minority populations. Look, homicide is illegal, right? And yet, every year at least 20 out of every 100,000 blacks in this country are murdered. From 1975-95 that number ranged from 30 to 40 per 100,000. A lot of our worst societal problems are fixable, but it takes more than legislation. When the GOP does a better job of communicating and living out a holistic paradigm, it will get a lot more traction.

For the record, I think the GOP can turn the thing around quickly. You look at the failures that were the Gore and Kerry campaigns in comparison to what Obama was able to pull off. I remember two years ago I was talking to one of my friends who is really involved in grassroots stuff with the Dems. He had just come back from a Dem meeting in DC and was lamenting at how off-topic and poorly led things seemed to be. He was unenthusiastic about the direction of the party and about their ability to put together competitive campaigns.

Well, they seemed to figure that out in short order.

Renew and Restore

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