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The GOP Needs a Fifty-State Strategy

The GOP needs a Fifty-State strategy, much like the political scheme which former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean created after 2004.

Republicans of 2012 now can understand how the Democrats felt in 2004. Faux-documentarian Michael Moore reportedly fled to the woods and processed the  that President Bush's strong showing despite the disputed election of 2000, the controversies over  American troops into Afghanistan and Iraq, or the country's spending spree on Homeland Security. Moore's documentary (Fahrenheit 9-11) failed to discredit Bush or dissuade voters from reelecting Bush.

In 2012, Republicans witnessed President Obama win reelection in spite of stagnant unemployment, a record number of welfare recipients (including food stamps), and a failing foreign policy. The Republicans feld into their own wilderness of "funk" to process this dismal showing. Yet just as the Democrats brushed themselves of their past defeat and lined up candidates for 2006 and 2008, so too the Republicans can reassess their mission and their message and get ready for successes in 2014 and 2016.

Following their shocking losses in 2004 not just of the Presidency, but also in the House and the Senate, the Democrats realized that they needed a better strategy. DNC Chairman Howard Dean crafted a "Fifty-State" strategy, which succeeded in taking back Congress in 2006 and win the White House in 2008. Before discussing how the Republicans can adopt a similar strategy, the GOP must reflect then refresh their current political playbook.

Predicting a North to South migration pattern, Republican President Richard Nixon (with Pat Buchanan) set up the Southern Strategy. Acknowledging conservative principles, states' rights, and federal subsidies for Southern States, Nixon joined "Goldwater extremism" with "Silent Majority pragmatism" to sweep one Presidential election after another.  From 1968 onward, the Solid Democratic South became Solid Republican. This metric worked wonders in 1980, 1984, and 1988. There was a slight disruption in 2000, one in which the captious infighting over ballots and recounts in Florida permitted the Sunshine state to go to Bush, who then relied on his incumbency to remain in the White House in 2004. By 2008, the diversity of this country has tilted the electorate toward favoring a role of government which  recognizes "Many to become the One". The Republican Party has the record on civil rights, individual liberty, and economic prosperity, but the strategy no longer capitalizes on these essentials.

The Southern Strategy has played its course for the GOP. Population demographics North to South have continued. In the South, more Alabama legislators, black and white, are switching to the GOP. Artur Davis, a former Obama acolyte, moved to Virginia and switched to the GOP, then speaking at the RNC National convention on behalf of Governor Romney. Now, a region dominated by older, white males has become the standard and the brand of the Republican Party, which threatens to drag the national conference into a regional orbit. More party-switching needs to take place in the West Coast, the North East, and in Chicago and its environs. The GOP can develop its own "Fifty State" strategy, one which pays less attention to region are more attention to creed and to culture as it relates to the principles and values of a community deserve the respect of targeting the message and encapsulating the values for future Republican voters.

New immigrant communities are not destined to become Democratic, as they did in New York City during the Gilded Age of the Political machines. Republicans can provide the resources for immigrants, better than welfarism, which is warfare against their long-term prosperity. I remember one summer in Westminster, California, where I met with a number of first-generation Vietnamese immigrants. A large number of them were registered Republicans who complained that the Democratic Party spent time and money on the poor without protecting the rights of others. Many of these immigrants had faced grinding poverty following the Viet-Cong purge of professionals and businessman, and their disdain focused not toward people in poverty, but rather their frustration with government attempting to solve this problem through force.

The older, socially conservative generation is dying out, with young conservatives emphasizing  fiscal restraint over social prohibitions. Marriage as a private matter is a more consistently conservative argument, and churches will retain the authority to join in holy matrimony according to the dictates of their religious conscience or the congregational communions' decision. Republicans should champion decriminalization (or at least defederalization) of controlled substances, since it was Democrat FDR who criminalized cannabis in the first place.

Former Governor of Vermont Howard Dean may have made himself a laughing-stock in 2004 after his dismal third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses, but his "Fifty State" strategy deserves scrutiny instead of ridicule. If the Democrats could do it, taking socially conservative Pennsylvania away from Rick Santorum for pro-life Democrat Bob Casey, then Republicans can phase out the Democratic dominance of Washington state, Oregon, or even Massachusetts and Maine. The GOP can reflect urban and coastal interests without alienating the rural factions of the country. Nixon and his Republican acolytes (including Ben "Beuller! Bueller!" Stein) cobbled together a civil rights coalition with integrated Southern voters. The Republican Party can forge new alliances with evangelical voters and libertarian social views, and expand a party dedicated to the fiscal prosperity of all creeds and cultures.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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