Republicans need to revise message

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal took an unconventional route to rebutting last week’s inaugural address by President Barack Obama when he called his very own Republican Party “the stupid party.”

Mollie Berg | Daily Trojan

Mollie Berg | Daily Trojan

In a speech given at the Republican National Committee Winter Meeting in Charlotte, N.C. on Thursday, Jindal outlined a seven-part plan for the Republican Party moving forward after their disappointing loss in November’s presidential election. Though his word choice in describing the Republican Party was probably chosen mainly to attract attention, Jindal undoubtedly has a point.

Jindal, who many predict will seek a presidential bid in 2016, said that his party “does not need to change [its] principles.” Instead, it does need to change certain outdated and irrational policies if it is to be regarded as anything other than stupid. If the Republican Party is to gain ideological respect and attract new followers in the near future, it must create a platform that is consistent with the pure principles of free enterprise, individual rights and limited government across the board.

The main problem facing the Republican Party is not the way it markets itself to voters, as Jindal suggests. Instead, the problem is with the presence of policies that contradict the main goals of the party.

One of the most glaring examples of “stupid” policy that needs to be changed concerns defense and military spending. Republicans cannot expect to be taken seriously when it comes to talking about spending cuts and fiscal conservatism when the party continues to support exorbitant increases in yearly defense spending, which has increased to $530 billion from $287 billion in 2001. Frighteningly, this increase does not take into account the primary cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Of course, it is the federal government’s responsibility to protect the homeland from threats both foreign and domestic. But it is very debatable whether the recent excessive expenditures on defense have actually increased the safety of Americans.

The Republican Party is quickly losing support among young people, who have grown up in a generation of war and doomsday predictions of economic collapse. Continuing to hypocritically advocate for an unsustainable defense budget while also criticizing Democrats for opposing spending cuts will do nothing to increase Republicans’ allure to a war-weary generation of young voters who will inevitably inherit crushing debt.

Another major point that Jindal made that must be taken seriously is that Republicans are not the party of “big” anything. Those Republicans loudly declaring the need for a constitutionally limited, nonintrusive government while inserting themselves into the personal lives of individual citizens will not be able to maintain support, let alone credibility, with voters.

Nothing says “big government” like legislation that prevents individuals from certain rights on the basis of moral relativism — most notably, continuing to deny the right for gay citizens to marry because the Bible or conservative tradition says homosexuality is wrong.

Though such a justification may have worked for our parents’ generation, young people will not continue to accept such an intolerant and categorically restrictive argument. The Republican Party must accept the fact that continuing to promote policies like “traditional marriage” will only alienate young voters who might be attracted to the Republicans’ otherwise principled devotion to limited government and individual freedom.

The most intelligent thing that the Republican Party could do is to adapt to our present realities. That does not mean compromising its fundamental principles, as Jindal correctly states, but it does require some revisions to avoid ideological inconsistency and attract dedicated followers in the future.

That means returning to a platform that truly espouses limited government: No more corporate welfare, no more government interference in the love lives of mutually consenting adults and no more spending increases where they are not absolutely necessary.

Far from being stupid, the foundational ideals of the Republican Party are arguably the most common sensical ones for restoring and maintaining a prosperous and free America. It is time to stand on a platform that communicates this clearly and unequivocally, and Jindal’s statement is a step in the right direction.


Sarah Cueva is a junior majoring in Middle East studies and political science. Her column “Homeland” runs every Wednesday.


4 replies
  1. Jack
    Jack says:

    Enjoyed the article although not sure how to get the GOP back on top. I will start reading up on Bobby Jindal now as I don’t know much about him.

    Benji Roberts seems to have a handle on how to win back the critical black and Latino vote so hopefully the party takes notice of his well thought out argument. This guy is a social and intellectual treasure.

    As far as Liberty Minded is concerned, they clearly didn’t see “Django unchained”. If they had they’d know exactly why guns were kept out of the hands of slaves!!! A guy simply feeds a couple people to the dogs and enslaves a few women to a life of rape and torture and for that he’s gonna get blown away by Jamie Foxx????? No guns for slaves!!!!! Can’t we all just get along?

  2. Benjamin Roberts
    Benjamin Roberts says:

    It’s a little difficult to understand the thesis of this author’s article. At times she seems to agree with Bobby Jindal’s comments suggesting that the Republican Party needs to improve the way it “markets” its platform to the public… but at other times, she appears to take issue with the party’s platform itself. In either case, it should be noted that Governor Jindal is just one of many prominant Republicans in a party that currently lacks a unified voice.

    I most certainly agree with Jindal that Republicans must not sacrifice their core values in the process of reforming the way they market themselves, but it does appear increasingly evident that they are not effectively reaching voters… and a change in strategy is essential. The good news for Republicans is that in general, they are very self-aware, and unlike Democrats, understand terms like “consequence”, “accountability” and “responsibility”. What makes Republicans, quintessentially Republican, is that they believe their values are based on immutable truths that endure through time. Where Democrats believe that values change as people change, and morality is predicated on circumstance… Republicans believe that fundamental truths govern our lives through changing and often perilous times.

    Republicans have lost ground to Democrats in two critical demographics: Blacks and Latinos. This is largely because Democrats have been overwhelmingly more successful at promoting their messages of “government reliance” and “tolerance”, both of which appeal to Blacks and Latinos whose populations are disproportionately impoverished. By contrast, Republicans preach messages of “self-reliance” and “personal accountability”. For unmarried mothers living paycheck to paycheck… or unskilled immigrants looking for work under the table… the Democratic party certainly sells a more palatable message. In the good-cop/bad-cop world of politics, it’s easy being a Democrat where personal accountability is sacrificed for personal comfort, feelings trump reality, and consequence is secondary to motive.

    Republicans are always the contrarians, forcing people into gut-checks that they’d rather avoid. Republicans remind us that alcoholism is at its root, a behavioural problem resulting from lack of discipline; Democrats blame genetics. Republicans remind us that so-called “gay marriage” is not about rights at all, but about definitions. Democrats want to redefine gender-specific terms to establish new rights, and in order to make a small percentage of the population “feel” better. Republicans remind us that historically war has been the answer to tyranny, opression and global evils. Democrats believe the only righteous fight is civil disobedience. For Democrats, ensuring equality is more important than embracing differences. Republicans understand that true peace is not the absence of conflict, but understanding why the conflict exists.

    Republicans need to remind Blacks that their genuine and righteous fight for civil liberty was and is rooted in judeo-Christian principles… that the ugliness and evil of racism can not exist in the light of spiritual living… and that personal success is not reliant on government programs. Republicans must remind Latinos that undermining immigration law is not consistent with their proud Catholic heritage… that the real American dream is not achieved by cutting corners… and that America actually has some of the most generous and embracing immigration policies in the world. Blacks and Latinos hail from strong and passionate gospel traditions that are indeed inconsistent with the Democrats’ position on issues of abortion, gay rights and illegal immigration. The bold but liberating truth is that if Blacks and Latinos truly voted in accordance with their conscience, core values, and historical traditions… they would vote overwhelmingly Republican.

    In the end, I think it’s inherently insulting to ask either party to change its core values. However, Republicans do need to find meaningful and effective methods to attract voters to their party. Many voters, particularly Blacks and Latinos, haven’t abandoned the Republican party so much as they’ve abandoned their own values and prinicples in favour of the far more palatable message delivered by the Democrats. The Democrats’ message is alluring. If Republicans are to win elections, they must tug back. As long as truth is preached… let the votes fall where they may.

  3. Liberty Minded
    Liberty Minded says:

    The only way for Big Government to get bigger is to take more. Big Governments would do well to reorder themselves to become “Value Governments” – provide services at a reasonable price. Two of the problems with “Big” is waste and questionable actions.

    Nothing says “tyranny” more than moving to restrict the property rights of citizens or groups of residents. The British and colonists limited sales of guns and ammunition to the Indians. The Missourians asked Mormons to turn in their guns. The slave owners prevented slaves from owning weapons.

    A “natural” right is the right to own property. Rulers restrict gun ownership for a reason, they fear the people are getting too uppity and might unseat them.

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