Meghan McCain on Why the Republican Party Needs to Wake Up
Four years after her father lost his bid for presidency, the Republican Party is still having a major identity crisis. Meghan McCain on what the GOP needs to do to survive.
I found out early on Election Day that Mitt Romney wouldn’t become our next president. I called my father, and he answered sounding somber. He told me that, based on early polling numbers, he didn't see a foreseeable way for Romney to pull it off. There’s a very specific tone of voice my father uses to deliver bad news, and I flashed back to 2008. Still, I must have been in denial, because I pointed out that Ohio and Florida hadn’t been called yet, and we all know that elections are decided in Ohio! My father just sighed and said, “Honey, I’m sorry.” I started to choke back tears.
There was no reason for me to have such an emotional reaction to Romney’s loss. It’s not like he’s a close friend. Looking back to last week, I think that I was mourning something else. For the last four years, writing on this website, I’ve been calling for the Republican Party to come to terms with reality and modernize. Last Tuesday, Mitt Romney lost—and he lost big. As Republicans, we lost again. I felt sad, exhausted, beaten down, and heartbroken. It was the first time that I considered that the Republican Party, which I love so much, might die.
I know there are many out there, especially in the more conservative sphere, that regard me with disdain. I don’t fit into the traditional Republican box that the wingnuts who have hijacked my party think all Republicans should. For the last four years, I’ve been calling for Republicans to stop concentrating on social issues. I am a single woman in my 20s and that fact alone gave me the perspective that I don’t want to regulate a woman’s right to choice. I am pro-life, but because life is complicated, that choice is between a woman and her idea of a higher power. I believe if Roe vs. Wade were repealed, abortion would still go on. I care more about my economy, national security, and fiscal conservatism than I do about what other woman do with their bodies. It’s not my place, and I don’t believe it’s the government’s place, to make such decisions.
I also don’t believe it’s the government’s role to tell gays and lesbians that they can’t be given the same opportunities in American just because of who they love. I think America needs a better immigration policy and immigrants who were brought here illegally as children shouldn’t be deported. I have said all of these things over the past four years and these issues have been important to the demographics that the Democrats carried on Election Day—single women, minorities, and young people.
Times are changing. The face of America is changing and we as Republicans stand at a crossroads. Are we going to accept the changing face of America and change with it? Or are we going to continue to become more isolated and irrelevant? It’s possible to maintain the core values of this party and evolve when it comes to social issues. Quite frankly, I don’t see any other path to success.
I’ve spent most of my adult life fighting for change from inside the Republican Party. We Republicans need to look at the future instead of living in the past. We have to learn from what the last two presidential elections have taught us. We must accept each other and the different opinions within the party instead of trying to cannibalize people that diverge from an arbitrary purity test. I refuse to let the extremists win. We can’t let the Tea Party bully us any longer. We can’t keep worrying about ultraconservative white male voters. At the end of the day, I still believe I’m on the right side of history, and we can’t let this party sink away. We can and we must evolve. I don’t know exactly how yet, but I for one am ready to spend the next four years helping us get there.
And if we don’t move forward, adapt, and become relevant again, the Republican Party isn’t going to survive. It will just continue to alienate more moderate voters like myself. If I don’t see some changes in the next four years, I’m going to consider registering as an Independent in 2016.