OPINION: The Post-Trump Republican Party

Republicans need new vision for the future

By William Yanek, Staff Writer

Originally published November 17th

It was hard enough being a Republican in the liberal capital of Kansas, Lawrence.

When you say you’re a Republican in Lawrence, it is usually met with an inaudible whisper or a sideways glance. But once Donald Trump became our nominee, people just couldn’t contain themselves.

“So you think all Mexicans are rapists?”

No, that was an incredibly bigoted and stupid comment.

“So you think all Muslim immigration should be banned?”

No, I believe no person should be denied the right to achieve the American dream because of their religion.

“But you still think it is OK to objectify women.

No, Donald Trump is a serial philanderer who objectifies women to make himself feel more powerful.
Trump’s numerous offensive comments, as evidenced by these interactions, put Republicans in a tough spot. This is why many Republican politicians chose to distance themselves from Trump, like Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

The 2016 Republican nominee has also fluctuated on a number of political issues throughout his life and is closer to Democrats on many of them. On abortion, he has varied from punishing women to being totally pro-choice. On multiple occasions, even as recently as the Republican primary debates, Donald Trump has been in support of a universal healthcare system similar to Canada. As for gun rights, Trump was a vehement supporter of assault weapon bans and preventing those on the no-fly list from buying guns, violating their fifth amendment right to due process, until the NRA endorsed him. Trump claimed he had always been against the war in Iraq despite saying otherwise at the time. On trade, Trump supports protectionist policies contrary to many conservatives of the party.

What this suggests is that Republican voters are interested less in “presidential” behavior, adherence to party doctrine and ideology and more interested in change. The Republican and Democratic establishment should have seen this coming, as they were the ones who created this populist attitude by ignoring the plights of ordinary, working people.

Donald Trump emerged in large part because the Republican establishment had stopped listening to the voice of its base. The base had already shifted to belief in stronger immigration policy, more stringent trade deals, ending political correctness and ending interventionist policy while Republicans politicians continued to push the Bush ideal of “compassionate conservatism.” Establishment politicians like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, for example, did not listen to these calls for reform, as he supported a massive amnesty bill pushed by the “Gang of 8.” Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush also failed to garner support due to his amnesty views as well as his hawkish foreign policy approach.

This desire for change materialized in Donald Trump’s shocking presidential win Nov. 8. Trump won by cobbling together a coalition of disaffected Republicans, uneducated whites of both parties and college-educated whites while winning 29 percent of the Hispanic vote and 8 percent of the African American vote according to NBC news. He also put states in play that have not been in play for Republicans since the 1980’s like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania by courting working class voters. Is this the future formula for victory for the Republican Party?

Well, not exactly.

It has been projected by Pew Research that this year had the most ethnically diverse electorate in history with 31 percent of the voting population being Hispanic, black, Asian or any other minority group. These numbers will continue to grow, which does not spell victory for Republicans as the vast majority of minority voters vote Democrat. While courting the white working class may have worked this election cycle, it will not work much longer. A major reason why Trump won was not just because of white voter turnout but also because of low turnout for Hillary Clinton. This means the Republicans must expand their base to survive in future elections.

While the population of women isn’t growing as significantly as minority voters, they still represent a half of the country that consistently votes Democrat as well. Donald Trump’s disrespect for women throughout his life revealed through the Access Hollywood recording and other things he has said has most likely dissuaded many women voters from voting Republican. The Republican party must adopt a higher moral standard when it comes to the candidates they select, not just because it would be beneficial to them, but because character truly matters in a president.

But probably the most concerning reality for the Republican party in terms of demographics is young voters. In a national survey of 18-26 year olds conducted by pollster Frank Luntz, it was found that 44 percent identified as Democrats, 42 percent as independents and 15 percent as Republicans. This will most definitely affect Republicans in the long term.

Believe it or not, there are doctrinal and political changes the Republican party can enact to solve these problems, but they will take time. From a doctrinal standpoint Republicans must listen to calls for reform as well as modify these reforms to attract new voters. On immigration, Republicans should support the enforcement of immigration law while at the same time treating immigrants with respect and realizing the absurdity of deporting millions of people all at once. If Republicans seek this middle-ground and acknowledge the importance of immigration to this country’s prosperity, they will see the slow return of Hispanic voters.

On trade, Republicans should recognize that all trade deals should be made in the best interest of the country and its people, not in the interests of multinational corporations.

These are things Republicans must do to maintain their voting base and disaffected Republicans who supported Trump. But to expand this voting base to people of all colors, genders and ages will require a Republican rebranding. The Republican party can no longer be the party of Wall Street, war, greed, hatred and racism as so many have portrayed it.

The Republican party must become the party of individual rights and liberties. This means supporting one’s right to freedom of speech, which is becoming more and more restricted on college campuses; defending people’s religious liberties when it comes to discrimination laws and forcing employers to provide contraception to employees; preserving people’s right to self-defense; allowing people to choose the healthcare plan that best suits their needs; keeping the prying eyes of the NSA out of our personal lives; allowing economic mobility in society through less regulation; allowing parents to choose a school that’s best for their child; protecting the rights of the LGBT community and safeguarding the rights of the unborn.

If framed correctly, these issues can be winning issues for Republicans and provide a sharp contrast from the Democrats who seek to incorporate government into every aspect of daily life.