- - Saturday, January 9, 2021

If the events that unfolded at the Capitol on Wednesday showed us anything, it is that the Republican Party has a significant PR problem right now. Sure, the perpetrators can be played off as just Trump fanatics, no different than members of a cult. But, whether the GOP likes it or not, they are still Republicans and viewed by the media and public as such.

Donald Trump has seemingly brought the party to the brink of extinction. Not only was he made into a one-term president, but he arguably cost Republicans the Senate as well. While it might be unlikely that the GOP now joins the ranks of the Whigs and Federalists into the group of once-powerful political parties, rebuilding must be done to regain political prominence. 

It would appear that the most obvious solution for the party is to ditch their president and spend the next couple of years reforming, but it is not that simple. Even with President Trump out of the picture, his loyal followers will not disappear.

For the GOP to win back the Senate, take over the House and, most importantly, make Joe Biden a one-term president, perspectives need to be changed. Sen. Marco Rubio’s November statement that “the future of the party is based on a multiethnic, multiracial working-class coalition” is absolutely correct. 

The common stereotype that the Republican Party can only be a home to old, wealthy and White people needs to change for the party to remain dominant in American political life. Republicans need to return to being the party of equal opportunity, promising that those who work hard and make smart economic decisions can live the American dream. 

Instead of Republicans name-calling and screaming “socialism” at every Democrat, Republicans should show Americans why the Democratic Party has failed them. Instead of giving the lower-class overvalued government programs that only act as a short-term solution to complicated issues, provide them with opportunity. At the end of the day, people don’t want handouts; they want to provide for their family and earn enough money to retire through hard work and honor. Give Americans that opportunity to live the American dream. 

To many Americans, and especially to many Democrats, there is this notion that it is impossible to get ahead and live the American dream anymore. It won’t be easy, but Republicans need to change that mindset to succeed. They do that by creating jobs and lowering taxes. 

Firstly, give someone a decent job and a vote can be expected in return. Instead of welfare programs, invest in education and human capital to create a smarter, more vibrant workforce. Democratic welfare programs do not work because they aim to resolve a problem instead of tackling the issue at its source. Having grown adults working a minimum-wage job designed for a teenager can’t be solved through food stamps and government assistance alone. For the vast majority of these workers, they aren’t lazy, but misfortunate. Republicans should invest in educational programs to lift these workers up instead of supplementing their pay while they stay down. 

Secondly, lowering taxes wins over voters. While this seems apparent as more money remains in the worker’s paycheck, Republicans are doing it all wrong. Republicans preach for lower taxes yet spend virtually as much as Democrats do. The national debt under President Trump has skyrocketed, and while COVID-19 added greatly to that, this administration was nowhere near a balanced budget before the pandemic. How can Republicans expect Americans to live fiscally conservative when the government can not themselves? 

Furthermore, the Republican Party needs a change of leadership to appeal to a younger demographic. Even after Mr. Trump is long gone, the party needs to do better to appeal to millennials and Generation Z. Implementing the aforementioned programs to bring back the American dream is not enough if it’s marketed incorrectly. 

Instead of Mitch McConnell, who is 79 years old, and Kevin McCarthy at a relatively youthful 55 years old, the Republican Party should introduce some younger faces to show that people under the age of 35 are welcome in the party. An ABC News exit poll showed that only 36% of voters between the ages of 18-29 voted for President Trump in this election. This has to change if the Republican Party has a chance of surviving 30 years from now.

Times are changing, and the electorate is shifting away from the Republicans. For the GOP to be as strong as they once were, they must also change to meet the current political demands facing America. It won’t be easy, but the fate of the party could very well depend on it.

• Alex Blecker is a student at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta.

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