The Republican Party Is Changing: Deal With It

There are a lot of Republicans these days who just don’t get that it’s a changing environment. The Republican Party of the 1980′s is pretty much dead.

Long gone are the days when a Republican presidential candidate could win with the, “I will cut taxes and reduce spending” rhetoric of old. As I wrote earlier, the GOP has shot itself in the foot (and stabbed loyal voters in the back) one too many times over the last 20 years and has lost a great deal of trust among conservative voters, and with good reason.

The $17 trillion in debt we have is not all the fault of Democrats. The IRS scandal? Awful in the way the agency has become politicized. However, sweeping tax reform would have done away with that. Entitlements programs are slowly going broke and that too is not all on the shoulders of Democrats.

The difference is, Democrats happily tell people they’ll spend the country into a hole for which it cannot climb out. They’re still foolish enough to believe there’s enough “rich” people in the country to finance all of their foolhardy ideas. But conservatives expect more from Republicans and they haven’t been getting it. As Amy wrote last week, gone are the days when those who identify themselves as Republicans, just going get in line for whatever Republican candidate we’re told is who we need to support.

That said, is it any wonder that two of the most popular Republicans among conservatives are Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul and to a lesser degree, Marco Rubio (some still haven’t gotten over the immigration issue)?

Ted Cruz is a polarizing figure. This isn’t necessarily a negative, but with Cruz, feelings for the man are either hot or cold. Democrats and many Republicans hate Ted Cruz. Conservatives love him. He has no problem holding Republican’s feet to the fire on issues that are important especially as it relates budgetary matters and Obamacare. When Cruz talks taxes, it’s not about cutting rates. He favors scrapping the system and starting over. This drives many Republicans up the wall but to many people, including me, this is not a bad thing. It needs to happen. Again, after 20 years of broken promises, this should not come as a surprise.

Rand Paul has led the way on issues such as mandatory minimum sentencing reform. He has also been very critical of the NSA (much to the chagrin of many in the GOP – I even saw him referred to as “Soft on terror.”) and their domestic spying. He has been out front on issues such as economic freedom zones — areas where unnecessary regulations would be eliminated, red tape cut and taxes reduced. It includes Detroit and other cities.

If it wasn’t for Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and other Senators like Mike Lee of Utah, that awful Manchin-Toomey gun amendment would have passed. They helped stop it.

John McCain on the other hand, supported it. 

When Chris Christie won re-election in NJ, the way some people were reacting, it was as if the “Christie 2016″ signs were already being printed up. The press started speculating, DC insiders were fanning themselves and pundits were droning on for days about the numbers he picked up in NJ. The attempt to coronate had already started three years before the next Presidential election.

Christie, unlike in 2013, was at the CPAC Conference this year and his speech was expected to be one that would help in smoothing out the trouble Christie has been in with conservative voters going back to 2012. According to Kurt Schlichter, he didn’t make the sale:

Christie, a former trial lawyer, committed a cardinal error that one wouldn’t normally expect from an experienced attorney. He didn’t understand his jury and address his arguments to it. And there was a jury there to be sure. It was a jury of conservatives, and they were there to render judgment on him.

Chris Christie had to, so to speak, build a bridge to the conservative community. This was his opportunity to do it, and he didn’t. His speech should have been directed to conservatives and have taken on the elephant in the room – we just don’t like him and we don’t trust him to be a real conservative. He wasn’t going to win us over then and there, but he could have started the process of regaining our trust. After all, if you want to win the nomination of a party that’s supposed to be conservative, you probably don’t want your name to provoke a stream of obscenities any time a conservative hears it.

But instead, Christie’s speech was just a recitation of basic Republican principles regarding small government and fiscal responsibility. The thing is, conservatives kind of expect that from a Republican. In fact, it was a bit patronizing – as was the reference to his pro-life views that kind of came out of left field, as if he thought that was going to make everything better. In the end, it seemed more like a routine speech to the Des Moines Lincoln Club than a gamechanger that reset his reputation with conservative activists.

That is not to say he didn’t deliver it well. He did. But what Christie needed to say was, “Hey, I’m one of you. Maybe we don’t agree on everything, maybe I offended you in the past, but I’m a friend, and let’s make up.” He didn’t do that, and many conservatives sat on their hands when he got off stage.

This is a problem for Christie. As I said earlier the standard Republican boilerplate is no longer going to work and that is what Christie is offering.

But it’s already starting to sound like 2012 with people saying we should support Christie because he has the best chance of winning and is more “electable” than the other potential candidates. That brings me to something Amy said about this:

Would it kill you people to hold your nose and vote For Once??? if he wins, suck it up like we did.

— Amy Otto (@AmyOtto8) March 9, 2014

She’s right. Things have changed. For once, the Republicans who told us Mitt Romney and John McCain gave us the best chance to win are going to have to hold their noses. They’re going to have to accept that the party is being led by younger, more conservative and libertarian leaning leaders (and voting base) who are not afraid to talk about issues that make the standard Republican uncomfortable.

Change is here. It’s not going away.

It’s time to deal with it.