Critiques of the Republican Party haven’t been in short supply lately. Awkward sexist gaffes — hello, legitimate rape — and a stubborn government shutdown have led many to throw their hands up at the second largest American political party. But, even though it looks bad, the Grand Old Party isn’t beyond repair. If the party wants to win over traditionally liberal students — who have been turning out to the polls in record numbers — they have to ditch backward policies and update their platform to accommodate a changing world. Here are a few suggestions to help the Republicans do just that.
First, stay out of our bedrooms. The “party of personal freedom” has no business telling us when we can or cannot use birth control or who can marry whom. According to a study by social work Assistant Prof. Michael Woodford, 68 percent of heterosexual Michigan students support same-sex marriage. Opposing equal rights has always put the offending party on the wrong side of history. If the Republicans want any sort of resurgence among students, they must reverse this trend of ignorance and inequality.
Perhaps most pressingly, take charge of the healthcare debate. Most Americans still don’t like the Affordable Care Act, or at least don’t fully support it. While it’s great that the ACA gives healthcare to more uninsured Americans, the bill is still nothing more than a Band-Aid fix. Until hospitals stop charging insurance companies — and now the government — $70 for an antibiotic that costs six cents to manufacture, the healthcare debate will not end. If the Republican Party can come up with a solution to do away with this ridiculous inflation and lower healthcare costs across the board, it will surely expand their constituency.
But that means they must shut up and compromise. According to Federalist Paper 10, a democracy is supposed to mediate between different factions. By design of the idolized founding fathers, the Republicans can’t get their way all the time. They’ll need to work with the — gasp! — liberal agenda if they expect the liberals to work with theirs. Maybe they’ll even stop a few government shutdowns in the process.
Next, stop being sexist. Most Republican politicians don’t want to marginalize women, but sometimes that’s what their policies do. Common-sense policies such as equal rights and pay shouldn’t be divided by partisan politics. They also need to leave the abortion issue alone. No legislator has the power to do anything about Roe v. Wade. The Republicans would be wise to ignore this issue and spend their political capital elsewhere.
This capital would be best spent playing to their strength — the economy. Polls consistently show that more Americans trust the Republicans to handle the economy. Republicans need to stop fighting with Democrats over social issues and work on ways to reform the many government structures that inhibit economic growth.
And they can do that by working the media. The Democrats frequently play the “cool kid” card by appearing on talk shows and new media outlets frequently visited by students. The Republicans rarely, if ever, appear on non-traditional news sources — as in, anything but Fox News. Some of President Ronald Reagan’s success can be attributed to his ability to use media to his advantage. Instead of complaining about media bias, modern Republicans need to use new media sources to change their stuffy public image.
And lastly, Republicans need to support education. Education is a capital good with strong spillover benefits. Good schools can singlehandedly reduce crime, reduce income disparity without having to redistribute wealth and ensure long-term economic growth by investing in future laborers, leaders, professionals and capitalists. There’s absolutely no excuse for the Republicans not to support every effort to improve education and education funding at all levels. Strong primary and secondary schools give students a solid foundation for later work and education. Strong public universities help get promising impoverished students into quality institutions. The students then often go back to their original hometowns or cities and elicit real change for those areas. It’s clear that meaningful education can do more to solve social disparity than other federal programs ever could. It could also reduce welfare dependence.
These goals could legitimize the Republican Party and make it slightly more attractive to younger generations.
Victoria Noble is an LSA freshman.