The so-called “Republican autopsy” conducted by party leaders calls on the GOP to broaden its base by reaching out to minority and women voters and becoming less dogmatic in its approach to policy. At the same time, however, participants at CPAC were calling for the party to double-down on their failures and drive moderates from their ranks. While the autopsy recommendations offer Republicans a way out of the wilderness, as a die-hard Democrat, I hope the CPAC wing wins the argument.
That said, North Carolina Republicans are drawing their own conclusions about the outcome of the election and leaning heavily toward the CPACers. Instead of reaching out to minorities, they are making moves to alienate them even more with strict voter ID bills and pink drivers licenses for young undocumented residents. They are also introducing bills to restrict women’s right to choose and shift the tax burden from the wealthy and corporations to middle-class families.
They might be moving so fast because they know their time in power is limited. More likely, though, they believe the rest of the state thinks just like them. They would be wise to look at a recent article by Bloomberg that shows their power is derived from gerrymandering, not democracy, and that the largest and fastest growing counties in the state are Democratic, not Republican.
As much as Republicans are loath to admit it, Democrats held power in the state for so long by governing from the middle while keeping the extremes at bay. Legislative leaders and Governors from 1992 to 2012 understood the necessity of a healthy business climate while balancing that with strong education and cautious use of our natural resources. If the GOP hopes for a similar tenure in power, they should use the advantage they gained in redistricting to brand themselves as a party of the middle instead of continuing to pander to their right-wing base.