The GOP needs modernization, not moderation

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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If Mitt Romney had lost the election solely because of Ohio, I would be lamenting his lack of a populist appeal. Or, if he had lost Florida narrowly, I might be writing about how Gary Johnson played spolier.

Instead, I’m writing about an identity crisis.

Make no mistake, the GOP faces serious challenges going forward. This wasn’t “just a loss.”

But that doesn’t mean the party should sell out its core values, either. In many cases, reinvention means drawing a clearer contrast with liberals. The GOP probably needs to reaffirm some values.

For example, it would make no sense for the GOP to abandon its role as the party of life. It would make no sense for the GOP to abandon its role as the party of individual liberty.

But there must be some reevaluation. It’s time for conservatives to rethink, “who are we?,” “what do we believe?” — and “why do we believe it?”

As I’ve written before, Republicans must find a way to appeal to cosmopolitan conservatives. A modern political party cannot exist if it concedes the young, the urban, and the educated.

Some of this can be fixed through style and aesthetics. Football teams get new uniforms. Political parties can likewise benefit from repackaging. But there should clearly be some actual soul searching as well.

For years, I’ve been advocating finding ways to attract more Hispanic voters. There are many reasons why conservatives should do this — reasons that transcend the now-obvious political reasons.

There will be a push to nominate a candidate who, at least, symbolically “fixes” this problem. Marco Rubio would be an obvious selection. But making the substantive changes won’t just require leadership, it will also require followship.

As Eric Hoffer’s saying goes: “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.”

This is sadly true of many in the conservative movement and commentariat. It’s time for conservative talking heads — many of whom misled their readers and audiences these last few weeks — to think more about the future of conservatism than about their personal popularity.

Matt K. Lewis