Pro & Con: GOP needs to be inclusive, shake off extremism

December 9, 2012 

The issue: What does the future hold for the Republican party?

Click here to read a conservative's perspective »

To be relevant and vigorous in the future, the Republican Party will have to adopt a paradigm that is the antithesis of the current one. Otherwise, its trajectory will lead it to become a permanent minority party — or even an inconsequential player in the national, state and local political arenas.

That would be a tragedy for the U.S. democratic system. The cornerstone of the U.S. system of governance is checks and balances. It requires at least two major parties that take different stands on policy issues when necessary and compromise and work together, when needed, in the national interest.

To be viable in the future, the Republican Party has to adapt to the demographic shifts that have led to political and cultural changes.

Currently, the major constituency of the Republican Party is old white men. Within the next three decades, almost all of them (along with old nonwhite men, including this columnist) will die. Unless the Republican Party does something to appeal to young voters, its base will keep on shrinking.

Consider that President Barack Obama received an impressive 60 percent of votes from those in the 18-29 age bracket.

The Republican Party needs to recognize the ever-increasing power not only of young people, but also of minority, women, religiously unaffiliated, and gay, lesbian and bisexual voters. As a group, 76 percent of gay, lesbian and bisexual voters supported President Obama. According to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll, about two-thirds of those who are younger than 30 support gay marriage and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

The Republican Party needs to accept the fact that the United States is not, and was never meant to be, a country for white Christians only. The party needs to become inclusive to reflect our nation’s diversity. It should respect individual freedom on issues such as gay marriage and abortion.

No one has the right to impose on fellow citizens their religion-based version of morality. Our Founding Fathers made sure that there is aclear separation of religion and state as evidenced by the First Amendment and Article 6 of the U.S. Constitution.

Any position taken on economic policy issues should be based on what will help country’s current and future economic growth. No individual such as Grover Norquist, a lobbyist, should be empowered to make 238 out of 242 House Republicans and 41 out of 47 Senate Republicans sign the so-called “Taxpayer Protection Pledge.” Such was the case before November 2012 elections.

According to a recent Washington Post/ABC News nationwide poll, 60 percent of all Americans support a tax increase on households with annual income of $250,000 or more. A pledge signed for a lob byist must not override people’s wishes.

Scientific knowledge, facts and evidence should not be rejected because of nihilism in matters such as global warming and evolution. According to the World Meteorological Organization, 4,057 million square miles of Arctic ice have melted from March to September this year because of climate change. It is not in Republican Party’s interest to continue to deny existence of this monumental problem.

All this would require a fundamental shift in Republican Party ideology. The future lies in the party’s own hands. All concerned citizens hope the party leadership will make the right choices. It is important for sustaining our system of governance.

Recently, Carlos Gutierrez, an adviser to Mitt Romney’s campaign, stated, “I think we (Republicans) lost the election because the far right of this party has taken the party to a place that it doesn’t belong.” It would be a dereliction of duty on part of Republican leaders if they take no action to steer the party back to the center. Rebutting the drivel of individuals such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Dick Morris and Grover Norquist would be a good starting point. These selfappointed spokesmen of the Republican Party, if allowed to continue, could possibly cause its demise.

Zaf Iqbal is past associate dean and professor emeritus of accounting at Cal Poly’s Orfalea College of Business. He volunteers with local nonprofits including Habitat for Humanity, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program and the Children’s Resource Network. He is past president of the San Luis Obispo Democratic Club.

Editor's note:

Democrat Zaf Iqbal and Republican John Peschong write monthly about issues of local, state and national importance. If you have comments or suggested topics for future columns, email letters@thetribunenews.com.

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