Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Republicans Need a Suburban Agenda

Echoing the conclusions of the prior post, Eric Cantor - a Republican I always found loathsome - admits in an op-ed in the New York Times that the Republican Party has abandoned the suburbs and women in particular.  He suggests that the GOP change its messaging and come up with a winning agenda for suburban voters.  Doing so, however, will likely prove impossible now that the party base is controlled by right wing Christian extremists and thinly disguised white supremacists.  And that doesn't even factor in the toxic individual in the White House who, if he runs in 2020, will continue to fuel the exodus of decent, moral people from the GOP.  Killing the Frankenstein monster the GOP has become will not be easy.  It may, in fact prove impossible given the demands of the GOP's toxic base.  Here are highlights from Cantor's piece:

An election provides a certain definitiveness for political candidates, win or lose. I know from experience, having lived through both the ups and the downs. For political parties, elections also provide a chance to reflect, learn and move forward with the business of attracting more voters next time. Or at least they should.
For Republicans, losing the House majority in last week’s midterm elections is a clear demonstration that the party must do more to appeal to suburban voters, especially college-educated women. Once a Republican mainstay, this group has been slowly moving away from us for the past few cycles.
The data is indisputable, and Republicans must address it. We need a Republican suburban agenda.
There is no doubt that some of the loss in support this year from college-educated women, for example, is a result of the negative opinion these voters have of President Trump. But it is also true that Republicans have not had much to offer suburban voters on what they consistently say are their top issues, including health care, child care, education, the environment and transportation.
A suburban agenda would not just address pre-existing conditions in insurance coverage but also commit to medical research that offers treatments for a child with a chronic disease or a cure for a parent’s Alzheimer’s. Republicans also need to unify around a plan to ensure that every woman who needs it has access to paid maternity leave from her job and addresses the cost of child care for working families.
No one likes spending time in traffic, but that is exactly where suburban voters are stuck a lot of the time. Republicans need to think about investments in infrastructure not just as an economic issue but also to improve the quality of life of their voters — and the people we need to bring back to our party. Finally, we should continue our commitment to reducing energy costs using an all-of-the-above approach, but emphasize energy efficiency and sustainable, renewable power.
Republicans, however, are not alone in not being able to reach people for whom their message used to resonate. The Senate results demonstrated that the Democratic Party continues to suffer from its loss of non-college-educated white men.
Unfortunately, in the past week, both parties have so far sought to explain where they fell short in the midterms by placing the blame on factors outside of their direct control. House Republicans have linked the loss to a record number of retirements and open seats. Senate Democrats have attributed their poor night on the “map” and having to defend so many seats in states President Trump carried in 2016.
There are some truths in both excuses, but those small truths mask the bigger picture: Both parties have given up on competing for large portions of the electorate. Instead, it’s all about maximizing turnout for each side’s most partisan supporters.
In my home state of Virginia, the suburbs throughout the state have been trending blue for some time. Last year in the race for governor, Democrats faced a choice: Double down on the gains they had made in the suburbs of Washington, Richmond and Norfolk or try to hold those voters while simultaneously appealing to rural areas. . . . . Both sides turned out their core voters, but the Democrats won in part by reducing the Republican margin of victory in some of the reddest areas of the state. Put another way, they broadened their appeal.
The 2020 election season has now begun. After last week’s niceties of calls and congratulations, what comes next will foreshadow whether these lessons were internalized or ignored. Will Republicans have something to offer suburban, college-educated women? Will Democrats have anything to say to white, non-college-educated men in the rural areas?
With the suburbs growing and population falling in rural areas, the GOP will have the harder task in my view.  What much of the GOP base wants - special rights for Christofascists, endless attacks on LGBT citizens, and a re-enforcement of white privilege - simply doesn't play well in the suburbs any longer.  As for the Democrats, bringing renewed economic opportunities to racist and religiously extreme rural areas - think Southwest Virginia - will prove very difficult.  Progressive businesses simply have no interest in such regions. 

1 comment:

Sixpence Notthewiser said...

I agree. But remember also that white suburban women voted overwhelmingly for Cheeto in 2016. He brought the worst in people. Ugh.