Despite Obama’s low approval ratings in polls, he still has a chance of getting re-elected. Politicians are often criticized for not following through on campaign promises; and Obama certainly deserves a similar criticism. Any good promise he made hasn’t been followed through on, and on the unfortunate promises he made he’s given it his all.
Something to keep in mind is that the electorate has a short memory and may let him off the hook for his early failures. Worse, as has been demonstrated in the past, even awful presidents still stand a chance of getting re-elected. Jimmy Carter, who is widely considered to be the worst president in modern history, definitely had a shot at winning in 1980 versus Reagan. Reagan won in an electoral landslide, but still only received 50.8% of the popular vote.
Carter’s term ended in an economic recession, with very high inflation and interest rates. Carter also had a number of failures including the 1979 energy crisis and the Iran-hostage crisis. So why did Jimmy Carter still have a chance? Why did he receive 41% of the vote, while having a 34% approval rating? Probably because the democrats have a consistent coalition of voters. Democrats have: unions, gays, abortion advocates, people receiving government handouts, green energy companies, blacks, amnesty advocates, the anti-gun lobby, the extreme left (communists/socialists/Marxists), Indians, the environmentalist lobby/environmentalists, Muslims, other government beneficiaries (organizations/companies receiving government subsidies/loans/grants), government employees, and most college professors/students.
Seeing that list spelled out, its quite amazing that republicans have a chance at all. The republican party is home to social conservatives, and theoretically to fiscal conservatives, libertarians, and constitutionalists; though recently those last three groups certainly have been disappointed in the republican party. So how does the republican party expand its base to capture the people its disaffected? Or even better, what elements of the democrat base can the republicans pick up?
Republicans need to get voters close to their ideology or risk a third party splitting the vote. In this case, the republican party needs to actually lower taxes, balance the budget, and visibly decrease the size of government; that’ll help regain some of the 3 missing elements. Running and speaking on the issues is one thing, actual advocacy and action is another. Independents who don’t fall into any specific group will blow in the wind and will want results: economic prosperity, more freedoms, and peace.
In order to form a “bigger tent”, the Republican party will need to capture reasonable environmentalists and conservative gays and some social moderates. Reasonable environmentalists, as in, people who advocate for a clean environment and aren’t opposed to nuclear energy and also realize that eliminating all fossil fuels in the foreseeable future isn’t a reality. I’d say that a number of the environmentalists out there actually fall within this scope. To be clear, reasonable environmentalists aren’t necessarily the people going to environmental rallies, they are just average Americans who hold that belief and have been told by the media that the republican party’s goal is actually to raze forests and replace them with burning animals and rubber as far as the eye can see. We need to articulate that we think living sustainably and buying green products is fantastic, but we oppose the government giving money for people to make those products or the government paying people to buy them. We also need to say, despite what you heard, we don’t oppose the Clean Air Act, we oppose adding CO2 to the list of pollutants in the act, and backdooring in regulations via the EPA and czars. We also need to explain that policies that Al Gore promised them would work, like Cap N Trade, will actually destroy the economy, reduce our quality of life, and enrich the politically well connected.
Gays and social moderates can also be won over by Republicans. This will require some negotiations and some understanding by the social conservatives as well as some articulation by the republican party. Social conservatives typically oppose gay marriage, gays serving in the military, legalized drugs/gambling/prostitution, and abortion. First thing is first, we don’t run on the issue of re-instating of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. If male soldiers don’t constantly rape female soldiers, chances are they won’t rape other male soldiers. There are already rules against soldiers having relations, we rightfully presume it happens anyway, but lets make it harder and enforce it if it becomes an epidemic. Let’s hold our nation’s heroes to a higher standard, requiring stricter conduct in that area. Most of our allies allow gays and none of them have experienced a homosexual epidemic.
Our party’s view on abortion and gay marriage should be that it should be decided on a state level. If your goal is to ban all abortions under any circumstance in Massachusetts or gays from marrying in Vermont, its not going to happen. You could reduce the number of abortions in 4 ways: with the fiscal/economic policies advocated by libertarians and fiscal conservatives, finding programs which have proven results aimed at reducing teen pregnancy, eliminating social programs that have caused high illegitimacy rates, and restricting/disallowing abortion in states that choose to enact such legislation. Likewise, gay marriage probably won’t be accepted in Alabama anytime soon, but if Hawaii wants to allow it, then so be it. But, Hawaiians shouldn’t make Alabamans pay for it. We shouldn’t run on a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, which tramples over states’ rights; but we can stand with the Defense of Marriage Act.
On the federal level, drugs should be decriminalized. I don’t use drugs; if it were legal I still wouldn’t. Likely, the reason you’ve chosen to not use drugs is because they’re dangerous, unhealthy, and you want to be successful in life. Just like with driving and working, performing those activities while under the influence of the drugs would still be illegal. The reason this is important isn’t just ideological, its because our prison system is too expensive, ineffective, and crowded. Legalizing drugs would require gangs to become profitable through other measures besides selling drugs OR cease to exist. Gangs would cease to exist because there’s not an obscene profit margin in manufacturing widely available products, such as tables, in your house to sell on the black market. In turn, there would be less violence, higher test scores, and less dropouts. Now, a good argument against legalizing drugs now is because our government is so heavily involved in healthcare and will be even more so under Obamacare, and it is wrong to make productive members of society pay for the constant medical bills of drug addicts. States should individually choose to allow or prohibit the substances in question. A good start would be preventing the federal government from suing states who want to allow medical marijuana.
Summing up, the Republican party will have to champion the 10th Amendment again. Allow the states to make decisions you may agree or disagree with. Just don’t make the people in other states pay for them. Social conservatives often are staunch in their ideology, so this will take convincing, but when this argument is articulated they’ll see that it’ll produce favorable results. In SC for example, its quite likely that gambling, prostitution, drugs, and gay marriage will all remain illegal; which would appease the social conservatives. However they’ll also now have more restrictions on abortion which should make them even happier… and the best part? Accomplishing all that by expanding the base of your party. In fact, by adopting this approach you may pick up more single issue voters or other unexpected bonuses. For example, you may even pick up some pro-abortion people if you propose letting the states decide, or anti-death penalty folks, and so on and so forth. A number of the younger youth vote goes to the democrats because they view the republican party as overbearing and preachy (and they don’t really understand the more pressing economic issues). Explaining the states’ rights approach is the best hope for the conservative cause. It would get the results you want, + more voters to help you elect the politicians you want ,+ their prosperous economic policies will create even more voters. Sometimes you have to give a little to get a lot.