With two unexpected turnovers in Congress in the last two election cycles, the Republican Party has been a huge disappointment in the last couple of years. Following the 2008 Presidential Election, hundreds of articles declaring the death of the GOP have been written. After all, many Washington political analysts had already determined the Republican Party dead following its defeats in 1964, 1974 and 1992. The Democratic Party was also declared dead after the 2004 election, with Democrats and Republicans debating whether the re-election of George W. Bush would usher in a permanent Republican majority. If it did, the era of the Republican Super Majority lasted about four years.
If history is any guide, I suggest that political commentators and members of the Republican Party take a deep breath and relax. The Republican Party will most certainly not be leaving the political arena anytime in the near future.
So, what do the members of the Republican Party need to do in order to usher in a new era? Well, the first thing Republicans must do is move past the current definition of “conservative.” Let’s be honest: American conservatism is now associated with wasteful spending, ideological conformity and military adventurism. The GOP took a $155 billion surplus and turned it into a $1.5 trillion debt. Most damaging to the Republican Party is the fact that GOP leaders have allowed themselves to be defined by rigid ideologues and blindly following an unyielding agenda in the name of patriotism. Despite the GOP being considered more unpopular than ever by the general public, accentuated by South Carolina Senator Joe Wilson’s most recent outburst, several polls and trends suggest that a Republican comeback is not as far off as it may seem.
Polls show that the GOP is wise to focus most of its attacks on spending, government intervention and job losses. Furthermore, GOP leaders have begun to realize that in order to stage a successful comeback, they need to start distancing themselves from George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, who have been increasingly harming the Republican image.
In politics, the resurrection of the out-party almost always comes from the brocken promises or excesses of the in-party. President Obama promised that his stimulus plan would keep unemployment below ten percent, and some of his advisers said the rate would remain below eight percent. But now President Obama is saying that the unemployment rate will in fact hit ten percent this year. The very purpose of the stimulus bill was to sustain and create new jobs, which it has still not achieved. According to the Labor Department, economic conditions in 48 states worsened in August of 2009. And eight states, including population giants California and Florida, saw record unemployment rates. So, forget every article ever written recommending new leaders or policy reforms the GOP needs for its revival, if the economy is worse off a year from now, the Republican Party will most certainly be able to make a comeback in time for the 2010 midterm elections.
The GOP’s move toward a comeback is found in exposing the economic failures of the Obama Administration, reconnecting with Middle America and counting on the lack of action and change the Obama Administration has failed to deliver during these past seven months. With regard to the environment, scientists keep saying that if we want to keep living, it is essential that we reduce carbon dioxide by 40 percent in the next ten years. Obama’s bill will only reduce carbon dioxide by four percent. This neither achieves necessary change nor does it fulfill the voters’ wishes. Many leaders of the Republican Party have admitted that their views on the environment are completely outdated. Therefore, the lack of action taken by the Obama Administration on environmental issues gives the GOP another platform and evidential failure to use against the Democrats come 2010.
However, despite counting on the failures of the Obama Administration, the Republican Party will be able to make a successful comeback through the inaction and divide of the Democratic Party. It has been seven months and President Obama has still failed to shove any real reform down Congress members’ throats. Which begs the question: If not now, then when? Unless President Barack Obama wants a reformed and reenergized Republican Party, he needs to start pursuing initiatives against the banks, energy companies and healthcare industries. I think we can all agree that George Bush had horrible ideas; torture, deregulation, pre-emptive war, and tax cuts for the rich. But he pushed them through in their full measure in Congress, something President Obama cannot seem to do with any bill.
Although it may take a little while longer before the Republican Party is revitalized and reformed, it would be unwise for the Democrats to count the Republicans out of the 2010 midterm elections. If history has taught us anything, it is that memories fade fast in politics, especially during an election year.
Natalie Goudarzian is a fourth-year international studies major. She can be reached at email@example.com.