Republicans hoping to reach beyond their party’s white, aging core must do more than retool campaign strategy and tactics, say young GOP leaders pressing elected officials to offer concrete policies to counter Democratic initiatives.
“It’s very easy to just say no, and there are times where it’s appropriate to say no,” said Jason Weingartner of New York, the newly elected chairman of the Young Republican National Federation. “But there are times where you need to lead and present ideas on the issues of the day.”
Weingartner and other under-40 activists at a recent national young Republican gathering in Mobile said their party must follow an all-of-the-above approach. Their assessment goes beyond the more general prescriptions that many party leaders, including Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman, have offered since November, when Republicans lost the popular vote for the fifth time in the past six presidential elections.
The latest loss was due in large measure to President Barack Obama’s advantage over Republican nominee Mitt Romney among younger and nonwhite voters.
For the most part, Priebus has avoided policy recommendations for elected Republicans and says the Republican platform, a political document that’s supposed to reflect the core values of the party, isn’t the problem.
Weingartner and many of his colleagues agree with Priebus on the platform.
But their ideas are more explicit than the chairman’s blueprint and stand in contrast to a partisan Congress where many Republicans tailor their actions to please primary voters who loathe cooperation with Democrats.
Weingartner said House Republicans, who won’t pass the Democratic-led Senate’s version of an immigration overhaul, should pass their own bill that at least “streamlines and expands” legal slots for foreign students and workers.
On health care, Weingartner said that besides regularly voting to repeal Obama’s law, the GOP should emphasize its own ideas. On same-sex marriage and abortion, young GOP leaders say Republicans should tolerate a range of views, even while maintaining a socially conservative identity.