For the GOP, 2012 was an eventful year. It began with a bitter and divisive primary, but the party experienced unification and optimism before crushing defeat, after which it began to crack and split again. After the world didn’t end on December 21, the necessity of working toward the future was solidified, and New Years resolutions are a good chance to do that. 2014 will bring a wave of state races including one for Mark Udall’s senate seat, but 2013 will help to determine the outcome of these elections.
- Stop infighting: The Republican Party is comprised of many groups with different ideas and priorities, and most with strong convictions. The Republican soul-searching of the last four years has led to much infighting, from bickering to conflict that poses an obstacle to political success now and in the future. Disagreement will not stop, but this conflict must. In addition, changing the Republican Party should occur through planned and thought-out primary campaigns rather than third party runs. “United we stand. Divided we fall.” “If we do not hang together, we will all hang separately.” Many of the ideological leaders of the conservative, libertarian and Republican movements have emphasized this need, but that’s one piece of advice which has not been closely followed in recent years.
- Rearticulation of the Message: Marco Rubio’s speech at the 2012 Jack Kemp Dinner was a strong start to working toward this goal, but there is more to be done. Republicans need not change their principles, but they must show people how those principles benefit them, speaking both in practical and ideological terms. Politicians and pundits must examine which articulations of the conservative message are popular, and which have lost their impact. Efforts must also be taken to prevent gaffes such as the Akin and Mourdock rape comments.
- Election Integrity: Whether or not corruption had a significant impact on the 2012 elections, everyone, regardless of party, should work toward elections without coercion, corruption or fraud in the future. Voter rolls should be cleaned, laws and procedures should be modified, and action should be taken to prevent exploitation of vulnerable populations for political gain. Government IDs should be made free, and after that it should be required to vote.
- The Narrative: Conservative media must turn its beliefs, its policies and the evidence to support those ideas into a continuous narrative, rather than a series of reactions to opposing views, and they must promote policy solutions to problems facing the country. Politicians and pundits have begun to do this in recent months. Bobby Jindal, for instance, advocated making birth control more accessible by making it available over the counter. In another example, the abolishment of gun free zones was proposed in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting to prevent such a tragedy from happening again, with evidence given to support the value of such a solution. Conservatives must also focus on avoiding being trapped the framing of a question which manipulates their response and instead answering in a way that shows the validity of their beliefs.
- Local Action: Conservatives, libertarians and Republicans must focus on the state and local as well as the national level, following the actions and words of those politicians closely and making them known. In a place as politically diverse as Colorado, this is especially important. A national network of Republicans working on the local level would be a powerful tool in promoting conservative ideals at all levels of government.
Working toward these goals in the next year will put Republicans in a significantly stronger position for the 2014 elections and beyond. Great strides have been made since 2008, with the expansion of the conservative media and social networking providing an infrastructure to promote conservative ideas and ideals on a continuous basis, and 2013 is the year to take the next steps toward political viability.