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McCain: The Future of the GOP?

May 12, 2009


No, not that McCain.

The San Francisco Chronicle features an article about Meghan McCain today.  I’m a fan of hers, and do believe that she’s a step in the right direction for a struggling GOP.

The 24-year-old daughter of U.S. Sen. John McCain, the 2008 GOP presidential candidate, is a regular political blogger and most certainly not her mother Cindy’s serene, St. John-suit-wearing stereotype of a Republican woman.

In brash blog posts on the Daily Beast – “The GOP doesn’t understand sex” – and outpouring of posts on Twitter, she has described herself as a pro-sex, “pro-life, pro-gay-marriage Republican,” one who experts say may be at the forefront of a new GOP breed: the “Meghan McCain Republican.”

That GOP faction is younger and interested in fiscal responsibility and less government involvement in people’s lives, while supporting environmentalism and civic engagement. They’re part of the millennial generation, the largest and most diverse generation in American history, whose voters – born starting in the early 1980s – cast ballots for Barack Obama by a more than 2-to-1 ratio.

Lately, when you think of the Republican Party, what names do you see in the news?  Newt Gingrich?  John McCain?  Dick Cheney?  Rush Limbaugh?

Not exactly a group of young upstarts.

Imagine you’re a 20-something and you’re just now beginning to show interest in the political process.  One one hand, you’ve got a young, vibrant President who seems intelligent, logical, calm, and current.  But maybe you don’t agree with some of his policies.  Maybe you find the price tags of his budget proposals outlandish (at best), or downright dangerous (at worst).  Maybe you don’t believe that government has any place in private enterprise.  Maybe you’re looking for another solution to the problems facing our country today.

So you look across the aisle, and what do you see?

To put it bluntly, you see a bunch of old white guys who seem to enjoy complaining about shit:

Dick Cheney, who seemingly is incapable of shutting up about torturing people to keep America “safe.”

Newt Gingrich, who appears on any tv show that’ll have him, even though he hasn’t held office in ten years.

John McCain — who I still find to be an honorable man — but who got swept up in the presidential campaign playbook laid out by Karl Rove and George W. Bush.  I remain convinced that the 2000 version of John McCain gives Barack Obama a run for his money in 2008.

Rush Limbaugh.  I have no comment here.

But I believe a case can still be made for the return of the GOP.  To do so, they’ll need to resurrect the ghosts of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan and polish up their ideologies a little to jibe with the 21st century:  Emphasize individual liberties without government intrusion, something the modern GOP has seemingly abandoned.  Reduce the role of government in the everyday lives of its citizens.  Make the case that though government shouldn’t be the solution to your problems, it can be there to lend a helping hand.  Reduce the theological overtones and emphasize the freedom to celebrate one’s religious choices.  Eliminate the litmus-test of abortion.  Accept the voices of science and intellectualism, and understand that sometimes those voices will say things you don’t want to hear.  And make it crystal clear that the way you defend The Constitution is just as important as the act of defending it.

As it stands now, there is no room in the GOP for people who believe in those things (just ask Limbaugh or Cheney).  The Libertarian Party seems to be the ideal fit.  But like it or not, we live in a two-party system, and third-party candidates tend to end up being nothing more than spoilers.

The GOP needs a reboot — badly.

Adam Mendelsohn, who was a spokesman for John McCain’s presidential campaign and is a California-based GOP strategist, said such concerns underscore what may be the GOP’s most critical “rebranding” problem: younger voters.

“The party and its leadership has become totally out of touch with where voters under 30 are,” he said. “Typically, when … you talk to Republican pooh-bahs, they dismiss them. They say, ‘Wait until they get older and understand taxes.’

“But they don’t realize these voters are those whose positioning is hardening,” he said. Millennials “don’t see the world like a 65-year-old whose opinions were formulated during the Cold War. … The Republican Party has to start actually talking about ideas and issues that resonate with these voters.”


One Comment leave one →
  1. May 12, 2009 4:30 pm

    If Meghan McCain is the “future of the GOP”, let this country turn into a 1 party system. Mrs. “Don’t you know who the **** I am” needs to float away. Her 15 minutes of fame living off her dad’s campaign are up.

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