G.O.P., You Don't Know Me: Where Republicans Are Going Wrong

On Monday, the Republican National Committee released a report assessing the 2012 election cycle, and laying out a strategy for future Republican campaigns. If you’re young, a woman, Hispanic, African American or Asian, they want you.

The report said young and minority voters feel the Republican Party is out of touch, and “Young voters are increasingly rolling their eyes at what the Party represents.” After reading the report, I’m rolling my eyes, and thinking, yeah no s**t, man.

Full disclosure: I did work for the Obama campaign this year, so I don’t necessarily have warm, gooey feeling for the ’12 Republicans. That being said, I don’t feel my political views are carved out of stone. They grow and develop as I do. I try to keep an open mind to both parties and their views. There are many intelligent people in my life whom I respect who are Republicans. Like my dad. I agree with him on a lot of issues, though we do sometimes get in heated debates over beers.

So I was excited to read the report to see how the GOP plans to reach out to voters like me. In addition to stating a lot of obvious facts like “young people use social media” and “our country is diversifying”, the report suggests Republicans reach out more to youth and women. As a young American woman, I found their recommendations condescending and disingenuous.

Take this suggestion about women, for example:

Republicans need to make a better effort at listening to female voters, directing their policy proposals at what they learn from women and communicating that they understand what a woman who is balancing many responsibilities is going through.

So far, so good…

Too often, female voters feel like no one listens to them. They feel like they are smart, engaged and strong decision makers but that their opinions are often ignored. Many female voters feel that Washington, D.C., is a city full of politicians that simply don’t listen and don’t understand what their daily lives are like. Female candidates are far better at connecting with these voters because they are more likely to understand them.

I don’t feel like a smart, engaged and strong decision maker. I AM a smart, engaged and strong decision maker. You can put a man or a woman in front of me, and they can say they understand me all they want, but unless the policies they support reflect that they understand my needs as a woman, I’m not voting for them.

The report’s approach to capture the youth vote is as insightful as its strategy for women voters. Some of the suggestions:

Republican leaders should participate in and actively prepare for interviews with The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, MTV and magazines such as People, UsWeekly, etc., as well as radio stations that are popular with the youth demographic.

and

Establish an RNC Celebrity Task Force of personalities in the entertainment industry to host events for the RNC and allow donors to participate in entertainment events as a way to attract younger voters.

They briefly mention the importance of gay rights to young voters, but seem more concerned about making the GOP seem as ‘cool’ as Obama.  Hate to break it to you, but you’re never going to be as cool as Obama (see picture below), so please stop trying to dazzle me with MTV and celebrities, and talk about policies that matter to me!


The report states multiple times they are not a policy committee, but does say that Republicans need to embrace and champion immigration reform to win the Hispanic vote. I think the report would have spoken more to the intelligence of young Americans and women if it suggested Republicans address policy issues important to young Americans and women like equal pay or college loans.

I don’t think the report needs to go into all those policies in depth, but I think it would have been beneficial for it to mention that the reason many young Americans and women feel the Republican party is ‘out of touch’ and ‘scary’ is because a lot of their policies are out of touch and scary.

I feel like they’re trying to change the branding, but not the product. Having a cool, celebrity-endorsed box with a new message may be a great way to sell cereal, but I’m not a kid, and I don’t want lucky charms. As a woman, I want equal pay for equal work, and I don’t want the government telling me what to do with my body. As a young American, I want to be able to afford a good education and not go broke if I get sick.

For me, the whole report sounded more we need minority, women, and young voters to win so let’s make sure they feel we care about them, and not we represent minority, women, and young voters too so let’s make sure their interests are reflected in our policy. I half expected one of the suggestions to be when listening to young people and women make sure to nod your head a lot so it seems like you’re interested in what they’re saying and can sympathize.

I hope I’m wrong, and Republicans really are genuine in their attempt to diversify their party, especially when it comes to electing more women and minorities, but right now I still feel like they just don’t get it.

Featured image via Shutterstock; President Obama image via White House

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