Barack Obama’s victory in the 57th presidential election was a monumental one, not just for the USA, but for the world.
After weeks of heavy campaigning, America was abuzz with renewed talk of hope, change and the promise by the man himself that “the best is yet to come”. But in amongst the hype and glory of the Democrat’s victory, the Republicans were forced to reflect on what was a damning verdict of both their candidate and their party as a whole.
You might be forgiven for questioning Mitt Romney’s credibility as a candidate, given his performance throughout his Presidential campaign. Despite predictions in the closing hours of Election Day that the overall result would be too close to call, the incumbent President held onto his majority with consummate ease.
His adversary succeeded in taking only two of the ten major battleground states, a sign that the many mishaps and ‘47%’ moments throughout his campaign did not go unnoticed. But perhaps the bitterest pill for many Republicans to swallow was the eventual failure to seize upon the apparent frustrations many held towards the current administration.
After four years in which so much had been promised, there was a feeling amongst certain voters that, with unemployment high and Guantanamo Bay still open, their President had failed to deliver.
Nonetheless, it was this same electorate who, no matter how discontented with their current administration, felt there was no viable alternative. They saw his opponent as a social extremist, as archaic. Quite simply, they saw Mitt Romney as a man who was unelectable.
However, whilst the former Governor of Massachusetts might be the latest example of the GOP’s inability to connect with the American public, its self-destructive tendencies do not begin or end with one individual.
As a party that encourages extremism during its primaries before attempting to moderate its candidates during presidential elections, it is perhaps no wonder that the increasing liberal American public have begun to view them as outdated.
The USA’s demographics are changing and the Republicans are failing to keep up; 6th November was proof that ethnic minorities, who accounted for 28% of the vote, feel threatened by the party’s severe conservatism and that young voters fail to relate to the values of its wealth driven leaders. In short, for the Republicans the tactic of appealing to a core of white, conservative voters that served them so well in the past is one that they can no longer rely upon.
Consequently, the time for change for the Republicans is surely now. The nation that took to the polls in 2000 has been irreversibly reshaped following two terms of the Bush administration. The increasingly liberal attitudes of Americans accompanied by its changing demographics are posing serious questions, not just of the Party’s candidates, but its approach to politics as a whole.
With the relative strength of the Tea Party movement and a seemingly never ending list of Republicans making headlines for the wrong reasons, reinvention will not be a smooth process. Nonetheless, there is a sense that, until modernisation does take place, opposition is likely to be where the Republican Party remains.
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