The GOP’s “Truce” on Social Issues is Political Suicide


Conventional wisdom suggests that in 2012, social issues distracted from the Republican Party’s winning economic message, causing the GOP to lose. At American Principles in Action, we believe that this mindset is wrong.

First, social issues help GOP candidates win elections, not lose them. Secondly, the GOP’s economic message, as currently structured, is not a winning message.

Just yesterday, APIA released a report in response to the Republican National Committee’s “autopsy” of the 2012 election entitled, Building a Winning GOP Coalition: The Lessons of 2012In this report, we explain how running an aggressive campaign on social issues and restructuring our economic message will better connect with working- and middle-class voters and, in turn, will lead to a national GOP resurgence.

In 2012, Republicans across the board embraced a “truce strategy” on social issues. If you’re unfamiliar, the truce strategy basically goes like this: Democrats attack on social issues and in response, Republicans retreat and try to change the subject back to economic issues. While the strategy may seem to work in theory, it proved to be completely impractical in reality.

The Left ended up dominating the narrative on social issues, instead of being forced to answer to their widely unpopular and radical stances on topics like late-term and taxpayer-funded abortions. Democrats were given a free ride to the top. On the flip side, the Left managed to define Republicans as radicals, whose main focus was to outlaw contraception and ban abortion.

But let’s pretend for a second that the truce strategy worked. What was the primary economic message that Republicans pivoted back to?

In more words or less, it was that America needed to lower taxes and address the growing national debt to create a better environment for “job creators” so they could hire more people and expand their businesses, thus growing the economy.

The question here isn’t whether or not this economic message is true. The question is whether or not that message convinced working- and middle-class voters to support the Republican economic plan.

It didn’t and there’s a reason for that.

The Republican economic message was too focused on the immediate economic concerns of “job creators” and did not focus enough on the economic woes of the middle- and working-class.

When Republicans say things like, “job-creators” and “small business owners,” middle class voters hear, “My boss.”

Most people don’t really think that their boss needs more financial help. Many people don’t even like their boss. (I, of course, think my boss is great!)

In fact, three weeks before the election, Forbes produced a study showing that 65% of employees would rather fire their boss than get a pay raise! Say what?!

Almost half of the respondents said that their boss had taken credit for their work and a good portion said that their boss had thrown them under the bus at some point.

Knowing that, you can probably better understand how some voters were turned off by an economic message aimed at helping their boss and not them.

This isn’t to say that Republicans shouldn’t address burdensome regulations and uncompetitive corporate tax rates. They should just walk, talk, chew bubble gum, and focus on the economic woes of the middle class at the same time.

If Republicans can run an aggressive and smart campaign on social issues and address the economic woes of the middle class, they’ll be in a much better position to begin winning national elections again.


Categories:Politics Republican Party

11 thoughts on “The GOP’s “Truce” on Social Issues is Political Suicide

  1. Mark H. Hendricks says:

    While I agree with the main point of the article, I must take a stand against the idea that it is either party’s job to address these issues.

    A strong, medical case can be made against abortion and the abortificants in birth control pills. This negatively effects our society. So, while I would prefer The Church do the job to which we are called, I can understand legislation. The same is not true of equal rights for gays. Don’t get me wrong. Being gay is not a sin. It is a temptation believers are to resist, no different than gluttony (a far greater threat to society), drunkenness (not far behind), or lust in general. The Body needs to stop asking the government to do the work to which Christ has called us.

    These sins were far more prevalent in Paul’s day. Still, he didn’t stand on Mars Hill asking the gov.’t to do anything about it. He called people to general repentance and acceptance of God’s free gift of salvation. We don’t need more gov.’t. We need sinners, saved by grace, to answer His call.

  2. John Fiarkoski says:

    I blame the 40,000 plus priest who have not pushed their parishioners enough to vote against abortion/gay marriage politicians. Until that day comes the Republicans will be losers. Remember 49% catholics voted for those who support abortion. shame. shame,shame.

    1. GREG SMITH says:

      John ~ In our two party system, the GOP doesn’t give voters a whole lot of alternatives. Many of their candidates oppose the teachings of the cChurch on so many levels and then throw in “‘n ah’m against abortion too.” Look at Romney’s interview with Hukabee and tell me how sincere you think he was.

      1. John Doman says:

        None of the issues where the Republican Party differs with the church are anywhere NEAR the level of Abortion. not even the same BALLPARK.

  3. GREG SMITH says:

    I think the problem with this argument is not what the polls show today, but the trend and what happens when you break the respondents down by age cohort.

    I’m a moderate Democrat but I believe in the two party system. Having a one-party (Dems) or multi-party (Dems, GOP, Tea and eventually many splinter parties) would not serve us well.

    The one Republican hopeful for 2016 who is prolife and electable is Jon Huntsman. However, he probably won’t be “pure” enough for the base.

  4. Chris says:

    Excellent article.

  5. says:

    The reason that I held my nose to vote republican was because of the horror of abortion. If the GOP abandons that why should I vote for them. They seem most interested in the bottom line of their corporate cronies and war. They do not have a positive message.

  6. John Sposato says:

    You’ve just explained why some of us out here call them the “stupid Party.” Mitt Romney had the election in the bag and gave it back because of a stupid campaign narrative. Republicans just don’t get it.

    1. John Doman says:

      Better the Stupid Party than the Evil Party.

      1. Amen to that…..evil is at it’s highest in my lifetime..People today have been purposely dumb downed so much they have no idea what is right or wrong anymore. They have no idea about past History, civic class…none,,,logic ( where you can reason things out). This way, you don’t know what you don’t know ….The youth is being taught in college by the extremist professors to hate the country they live on….why is that???How many Americans do you see trying to illegally get into Mexico, Iran, India, Cuba, Russia &etc…..They want complete control of America…..Ask yourself why is that….Wake up young people, time is running out….

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