Republican success lies in capturing moderate voters
Opinions Column: Elsewhere In the World
With two months to go before the Iowa caucus, the Republican Party is stuck in a mire, unsure of an identity or a legitimate candidate to support. Liberal media has attacked various candidates regularly, and usually for good reason. Republican nominees seem to have taken every opportunity possible to display ultra-conservative, often absurd views to the national audience. To a large portion of the American public, the irrationality displayed by some of the candidates can be described as laughable at best. Granted, the literature describing Donald Trump's great wall and the image of Mike Huckabee clutching the hand of Kim Davis are now symbolically conservative in voters' eyes. As absurd as these actions immediately seem, the unfortunate reality underneath the guise of this election cycle is that these are legitimate attempts to garner the votes and support of an ultra-conservative network of Republican voters: the primarily white and evangelist Christian demographic that thrives throughout the conservative heartland.
Prior to the Paris attacks, ultra-conservatism was the culmination of the Republican Party’s legitimacy. The only real threat to the conservative ideology was those on the Left, and the most effective safeguard for the Republican Party was to move to the right in an attempt to consolidate the party's ideology on an ultra-conservative basis. But with the introduction of the Islamic State group into daily American media, the political climate has changed significantly. Reminiscent of the years following 9/11, the issue of public safety is again on the forefront of voters' minds. Following the introduction of a new common enemy, the legitimacy and requisite experience of every candidate will come into question under this common theme. The general American public, including a politically significant contingency of moderate conservatives, will not stand for the mediocracy displayed by Republican frontrunners thus far. The party needs a new candidate, and a new strategy that goes against the public's predisposed assumptions of the Republican Party.
Given a Democratic Party with its own, albeit less obnoxious problems, the Republican Party has an opportunity to garner the support of moderate voters. In order to do this, a candidate must step up and ditch the ultra-conservative voting base that has supported the Republican agenda for too long. In exchange, an appeal must be made to a larger and more moderate demographic. Contrary to popular assumption, this may be more achievable than what initially seems apparent. After all, ultra-conservative voters will not jump ship for the Democratic Party in the absence of an ultra-conservative candidate. Instead, they will be voting in defense of their values, as opposed to voting for the attack on the values of others. Given the context of the current social environment in America, combined with the violence occurring within, as well as outside of these borders, there is little room for anything short of exquisitely professional going forward. If Republicans are to make a legitimate push for the presidency, the winning formula will not have its foundation in religion, bigotry and most importantly, fear.
A little more than one year from today, Barack Obama's successor will be in the White House and acting as the chief executive of the United States. Given the political friction at present, the 45th president will inherit a divided legislature and a further divided public with each group representative of a different section of American life and idealism. Given these inherent structural issues, it would make sense for a candidate to reintroduce the idea of the American nation-state into the hearts and minds of voters throughout the country. The Republican frontrunner must be able to balance the fact that America is a nation made up of immigrants, and with the help of a defined state, she will go to whatever lengths to protect the safety and sovereignty of her constituents.
Connor Siversky is a Rutgers Business School senior majoring in finance with a minor in math. His column, "Elsewhere in the World, " runs on alternate Wednesdays.