Watch CBSN Live

Column: GOP Should Eliminate Social Conservatism

This story was written by Ryan Quinn, The Daily Gamecock

On Nov. 4, the Republicans were thrown out of Washington in droves, showing that the public's taste in politics has changed. This could turn out to be a great opportunity though, for a new forest cannot grow without a fire. Out of the ashes of the party of George W. Bush and Richard Nixon there comes the hope that a new Republican party will arise, or rather a party that remembers where it came from: Lincoln, Eisenhower and the tenets of fiscal conservatism. Yes, fiscal conservatism, not social.

The tragic flaw of the current Republican party, the one that did them under this election, is that it has focused too much on social issues, causing it to become regionalized in the Bible Belt and the Deep South and lose appeal elsewhere. I've heard many blame John McCain's loss on the overwhelming black voter turnout for Barack Obama, an example of the misconceptions that truly led to his defeat. The truth is, blacks have always voted overwhelmingly Democratic, and they only favored Obama two percentage points more than they did Al Gore.

But, even if Obama had lost the black vote to McCain, he still would have won because blacks have a miniscule effect compared to the largest minority. Hispanics, who are expected to overtake whites as the majority in this country by 2050, voted in favor of Obama by more than 70 percent. In a few decades, the current Republican party is set to lose its only chance of winning: the white majority. Hence, Republicans, if they plan to win any elections in the future, must expand their appeal.

How? By eliminating social conservatives. There must be no room for Mike Huckabees or Mitt Romneys in the new incarnation and especially not Sarah Palins. It is obvious that Palin was a huge reason for McCain's loss, because only around a third of voters thought she was prepared to be president. Furthermore, her beliefs appealed only to the waning social conservative base.

McCain also made the mistake of forgoing his own moderate beliefs in order to please social conservatives. If the true John McCain had run with a moderate vice-presidential candidate, there is a good chance that he would be touring the White House as we speak.

The "Southern strategy," developed by the Nixon campaign to attract white voters through racial issues, has failed. Virginia and North Carolina went to Obama, showing a change not only in demographics but in the mindset of white voters.

The new Republican party must broaden its appeal by changing its focus, but it does not have to completely let go of its social positions. After all, the new Hispanic majority will be overwhelmingly Catholic, an easy target for politicians with anti-abortion and gay marriage positions. Throw in a focus on fiscal conservatism, and Republicans could be back in the game.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue