The Republican Party’s highest priority following the 2012 election must be the building of a governing majority that can successfully put Republican ideas into action to the benefit of all Americans.
Such a strategy can be summed up this way: Think Majority.
Thoughts precede action, and so to take actions necessary to become a majority first requires an internal commitment to build upon what we have accomplished, to reach people who are not yet with us, and to successfully persuade many of them to trust our party to lead.
It’s a tall order — most Latinos, Asians, and African-Americans, and young people today prefer our opponents.
Yet, we also know that politics is dynamic – not static. In governorships the Southeast has moved from solidly Democratic to Republican, and the reverse has taken place in the Northeast, just within my lifetime. Most of the west has moved to the right, while the Pacific coast and Hawaii have moved left. The dynamism of America’s political system is constantly creating new opportunities for candidates and political parties capable of taking advantage of them.
Our Latino and Asian communities are filled with people who came to America to get away from the misery caused by big, intrusive and misguided government. They didn’t come here to replicate bad ideas – they came here for the entrepreneurship, freedom, and opportunities that Republicans are committed to protecting.
“Immigrants come here as conservatives, but something happens once they’re here and they become Democrats,” one Jamaican immigrant told me recently.
A majority-oriented Republican Party, and majority-oriented candidates, will relentlessly look for opportunities to build relationships with people who are not Republicans, but can be. Success in this effort requires the ability to persuasively connect Republican ideas with the benefits they bring – a skill many Republican candidates lack, but are capable of developing.
It also requires being smarter about the issues that can drive people away from the Republican Party before our candidates have the chance to make their case. We have no interest in making it easier for Democrats to drive wedges between us and the voters who need to be a part of a future Republican majority.
The Republican Party is and will continue to be the party that supports safe and secure communities, and that includes a secure border. We know the crime – human trafficking, drug trafficking, smuggling, etc – that festers around both sides of an insecure frontier and the innocent people such crime victimizes.
Yet, at the same time, it’s important for Republican leaders to recognize that immigration is not only a law enforcement issue. It’s an economic issue, an education issue, and a family issue. A majority-oriented Republican Party looks for opportunities to make the system work better in each of these areas.
And this is where our natural instincts for reform, and skepticism of giant bureaucracies, work to our advantage. Does anyone think that the bureaucratic maze of our current immigration system is some finely tuned machine? Or that our work and student visa systems don’t need to be updated to match economic realities? Or that our border crossings are some kind of model for efficiency?
Our party can support a permanent guest worker program, reform the immigration system to make it work better, match the number of student and work visas to today’s economy, modernize our borders and border crossings, and more. The other team has problems with each of these reforms because of their own internal political conflicts.
Republican elected officials and candidates content to be confined to minority status can afford to view immigration as purely a law enforcement issue. A majority-oriented party couples our commitment to a secure border with common sense reforms to rationalize and simplify our immigration system, promotes matching workers with employers, and respects our tradition as a nation of immigrants.
Nor should we be content as the party that can only win single-digit support in African-American communities. Everyone seeing the film “Lincoln” is reminded our party was founded to put an end to slavery and to promote equality, and nowhere is there greater inequality today than in our education system. While the other team slavishly caters to demands from education union officials, majority-oriented Republican candidates will counter with giving parents more options and alternatives so their children can have a fair shot at the opportunities our society offers.
All of this work depends on Republicans must continually building our party’s credibility. When our candidates make promises, they need to deliver. No one ever said holding the line on taxes or reforming government iseasy. If it was, it would have been done long ago. Yet, Republicans continually commit to protecting taxpayers and reforming government. Once elected, they need to deliver and let people know that when a Republican candidate makes a commitment, it’s for real.
The first step to becoming a Republican majority is simple: Think Majority.
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