This year will be a tough one for the Republican Party, which remains leaderless and issueless, writes National Review Editor Richard Lowry in an editorial.
“Once, taxes and national security were the party’s pillars, supplemented by domestic issues like welfare reform and crime, and by symbolic issues like the Pledge of Allegiance and flag-burning,” Lowry writes. “Now, the pillars are in a state of despair.”
And where the Republican Party used to use wedge issues that made Democrats uncomfortable, the phrase is now long-retired, and taxes and national security issues don’t have the same punch anymore, reports Politico
Even cutting income taxes no longer gains public attention, Lowry writes, because rates are already lower than they were 30 years ago. And because President Barack Obama has focused on raising rates for wealthy taxpayers, Republicans have been put into the “awkward political space,” he says, of defending tax cuts for America’s wealthiest.
The party also can’t gain traction on national security issues anymore, because it’s been a long time since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and the country is weary of war, Lowry notes.
Making matters worse for the GOP, polls have Democrats leading on social issues such as Medicare, health care, gun violence, Social Security, and the economy, leaving the Republican Party to argue about spending cuts and the spiraling deficit.
And, perhaps worst of all, Republicans are also suffering from the party’s lack of a clear leader.
Lowry recalls in his piece how a John McCain ad in 2008 was accurate in its description of Barack Obama as the “biggest celebrity in the world.” Republicans, he says, have failed to consider that celebrities are “the gods of our pop culture” and play by different rules. And the GOP members of the House, he adds, “don’t have a chance against a president, let alone a celebrity.”
New party leaders are beginning to emerge, he continues, citing Republicans like Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio pushing what he calls a “bread-and- butter” economic agenda that will appeal to more to the middle class. But until their efforts bear fruit, or unforeseen events suddenly change the political landscape as they sometimes do, the party may have to suffer for some time to come.
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