The following editorial appeared in The Charlotte Observer yesterday. It is called “My GOP needs a new playbook before it’s too late” and is written by Matthew Ridenhour, a former Republican Mecklenburg County Commissioner. I pasted it in its entirety, with a link if you wanted to see the official version. It speaks for itself.
“The GOP has a difficult future, and I’m not sure whether the party and its faithful understand this. If we are going to have a successful party — indeed, a party at all in 10-15 years — we need to have an honest look at where we are and determine an admittedly difficult path forward. The GOP has firmly planted its flag in the rural areas of our state and across the country. This has led to many victories at the state and federal level, but it is not a viable long-term strategy. The problem is simple — rural areas are not growing. They may be solidly red, but college grads are moving to cities like Raleigh and Charlotte — not to Mayberry. There have been a multitude of books, research, and analysis around the death of small-town America. Cities will become so blue and populous as to turn red states blue. In 2018, both in Mecklenburg County and across the nation, Republicans lost scores of seats in urban and suburban areas. Many wrote this off as typical midterm election results, but in 2020 Republicans did not fare much better. In four years the GOP lost the House, Senate, and presidency. How do we regain our once-reliable suburban voters?
Our message must match our actions; voters look for authenticity. We purport to be the party of individual liberty, but what liberties do we promote besides the Second Amendment? We say we support our LBTQ+ and Log Cabin Republican friends, but then we attempt to regulate what occurs between consenting adults. We are slow to repeal blue laws. We are hesitant to support even medicinal use of marijuana. We say we support religious liberties, but when we open every meeting and convention with a Christian prayer, is that welcoming to people of other faiths? We say we are the party of fiscal conservatism and limited government, but then pass laws like the Patriot Act, create the Department of Homeland Security, launch the Space Force, and oversee some of the largest periods of government spending in the 21st century. Again, this all comes across as inauthentic and hypocritical. The GOP often states it is a big-tent party, but if voters do not feel they belong in the tent, then is it really? Voters in 2018 and 2020 decided that our tent was not big enough for them. If we continue to lose would-be GOP voters, then we will not gain back the ground necessary for long-term electoral success. We will continue to lose the suburbs, older Republicans, and young people.
Voters in urban and suburban areas talk about issues like affordable housing. Student loan debt. Homelessness. Economic mobility. They do not talk about “God, Guns, and the Constitution,” though they may love all three. This does not mean the GOP should become “Democrat-lite.” Rather, find and promote conservative solutions to issues facing urban and suburban voters. Accept that Republicans engaging on these issues and others are not Republicans in Name Only (RINOs) but instead are Republicans fighting for voters on a very different battlefield than our friends in rural areas. Support the rights and liberties of others, so long as they do not encroach upon our own rights. As Ronald Reagan said: “The heart of conservatism is libertarianism”. Some Republicans will object, and counter that we are poised to take the House, and maybe the Senate, in 2022. I do not disagree, but that will only belie the decades-long voting trends in urban and suburban areas. We must change our message and our course for long-term success. Let’s Make the GOP Big Tent again.”
I agree with this Republican’s comments. Yet, one thing the party can start with is to support those who are telling the truth and calling out those who are purposefully misleading people. Ridenhour will be dismissed as a RINO, which is a shortcut label by a person without a good rebuttal. Yet, he is not alone in saying this among Republicans. He just needs more support in what he is saying.