The results of the post-election autopsy ordered by Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus after the GOP’s shellacking last November are in, and the party’s socially conservative base isn’t likely to be happy about the report’s findings.
According to NBC News, the report “calls for drastic changes to almost every major element of the Republican Party” including its structure, outreach, positions on social issues like immigration and LGBT rights, and relatively sluggish embrace of modern technology.
Huffington Post reports that the document contains data from voter focus groups held across the nation:
Asked to describe Republicans, they said that the Party is “scary,” “narrow minded,” and “out of touch” and that we were a Party of “stuffy old men.” This is consistent with the findings of other post-election surveys.
On outreach to Hispanic voters, the report says:
We are not a policy committee, but among the steps Republicans take in the Hispanic community and beyond, we must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform. If we do not, our Party’s appeal will continue to shrink to its core constituencies only…
In essence, Hispanic voters tell us our party’s position on immigration has become a litmus test, measuring whether we are meeting them with a welcome mat or a closed door.
On LGBT rights:
Already, there is a generational difference within the conservative movement about issues involving the treatment and the rights of gays — and for many younger voters, these issues are a gateway into whether the Party is a place they want to be. If our Party is not welcoming and inclusive, young people and increasingly other voters will continue to tune us out.
Now don’t get any ideas about an impending evolution in the official Republican Party platform on LGBT rights. Unlike the issue of immigration reform, on which the report openly advocates a policy reversal, it essentially recommends the party reach out to young voters and “welcome” their pro-equality views while continuing to ignore them on a policy level. Instead of making substantive changes to the GOP platform, the report advises soft-pedaling and downplaying the party’s virulent anti-gay bigotry and convincing Millennials that their disagreements with the party on LGBT equality and other social issues should be overlooked in favor of other issues on which they do agree. (Read the report in its entirety below.)
Frankly, I’ll be interested to see how closely the Republicans follow this report’s recommendations. Even making a token nod to greater LGBT inclusion is likely to be met with howls and shrieks from rabidly anti-gay Christian conservatives; going much further than that risks permanently splitting the party’s libertarian and socially conservative wings. Yet as the nation moves rapidly and decisively in the direction of equality, jettisoning outdated social conservatism is the GOP’s only real choice if it wishes to remain relevant. The other option is extinction.