Priebus is Wrong: The GOP Must Appeal to Conservatives Who Represent the Majority of Americans

Reince Priebus and other Republicans should step aside and let a leader emerge who understands that the base of the Republican Party (GOP) and the majority of Americans are conservative. His approach to spend $10 million on a marketing campaign to reach women, minorities, and gays is foolhardy.

Here's why.

First, he wrongly assumes that the GOP excludes women and minorities. It doesn't. The problem with the Republican Party is leadership and message-not race or gender. The ideals that the GOP has always embraced-free market principles and constitutional government-are not exclusive to white men. Free enterprise benefits everyone.

Most Americans do not realize that having an income of $34k puts that earner in the global one percent. This includes immigrants, minorities, and women who live and work in America, where their property is protected, markets are regulated and respected, and government is representative and freer than other countries. For example, Mexicans don't come to America because quality of living is better in Mexico. They come because of the numerous opportunities capitalism affords them.

Republican leaders should consistently point out that President Obama's policies are hurting women and minorities. Under his leadership, government dependency has increased black unemployment to 14.3 percent and the Latino poverty rate to 28 percent.

Second, more Americans identify with being conservative, than as moderate or liberal, and 69 percent of these conservatives identify with being a Republican. Furthermore, there are more conservatives than moderates by a 3 to 1 margin within the Republican Party.

Republican leaders cannot ignore the fact that while there is a broad mix of conservatives, moderates, and liberals amidst American political culture, conservatives continue to remain the largest group.

Being a conservative is not a bad word. The socio-political philosophy to preserve traditional social institutions is just misunderstood because there is more than one kind of conservative in America.

Libertarian conservatives seek to advance laissez-faire policies, eschew any kind of economic intervention like national bank and business regulations, and oppose environmental regulations and welfare subsidies.

Fiscal conservatives are mostly concerned with government spending and debt.

Cultural conservatives want to preserve America's heritage, strongly believe in traditional values, and often have a sense of nationalism.

Social conservatives desire to maintain traditional values as well, but hold fast to the idea that government must enforce these traditional values/behaviors through civil law or regulation.

Religious conservatives apply the teachings of their faith to civil society, attempting to influence laws.

Unfortunately, the 2012 Republican primaries revealed that there was no one candidate that conservatives could support. In fact, the lead in a USA Today/Gallup GOP national poll changed nine times between May 2011 and February 2012. It wasn't until August 2012 that Romney emerged as the party's candidate. Not only did he lose the election by five percentage points, but Republicans lost seats in the Senate.

Republicans lost because they failed to appeal to their base. They did not focus on electing conservative candidates, did not have a consistent conservative message, and did not have leaders in the Republican Party who were willing to identify conservative principles and stick to them.
Without a strong leader, there is no clear message. Without a clear message, few can understand what the Republican Party actually does represent. By not defining itself from the onset, the RNC allowed their opponents and the media to redefine them, which proved to be their downfall.

Perhaps the biggest problem with Priebus's approach is that it won't work.

Building a political strategy on cultural whims only gambles with the nation's future for unguaranteed short-term gains. As James Taranto wrote, "A politics built around racial polarization and competition between sexes – around revenge against 'white males' – may win some elections, but it cannot deliver a bright future … it portends the decline of civilization."

Republicans should-and can-broaden their base to reach as many people as possible- but not through racial pandering and polarization. They must emphasize the benefits of limited government and traditional values as imperative for the nation's future.

Bethany Blankley worked in politics for over ten years, on Capitol Hill for four U.S. Senators and one U.S. Congressman, and in New York for a former governor. She also previously taught at the New York School of the Bible and worked with several non-profits. She earned her masters degree in theology from The University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and her bachelors degree in politics from the University of Maryland. She is a political analyst for Fox News Radio, and she has appeared on television and radio programs nationwide. Follow her: @BethanyBlankley