The American Interest
Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
Memo to CA GOP: Change or Die

Shell-shocked California conservatives are trying to resurrect the GOP, but their efforts are still falling short. The libertarian-leaning Orange County Register has an editorial suggesting ways in which Republicans can become relevant again:

On these pages, we’ve argued that, instead of becoming more liberal – a strategy that rarely gets politicians elected anyway – the GOP needs to embrace a different bundle of issues. It shouldn’t become a “me too” party that stands for nothing distinctive from what the other party is offering, but instead should become more freedom-focused, economically and civilly.

That means embracing a set of principled limited-government ideas across the board. We’ve always found it hypocritical that Republicans would preach smaller government even as they call for a stepped up drug war and government intervention in private matters such as same-sex marriage.

In our last piece about California, we called on Republicans there to think long and hard about how they managed to become politically irrelevant in a state they used to own. The OCR, though, still seems to be in denial—believing that the people aren’t buying the GOP message because the GOP isn’t being pure enough.

The real problem Republicans face in California—and nationwide, for that matter—is that people who should be supporting them don’t even consider doing so. California is home to millions of Hispanic and Asian immigrants who are looking above all for opportunity and growth. The Democrats in California are the enemies of pro-growth policies, yet the striving and aspiring immigrants and ethnic groups have by and large written off the GOP.

It doesn’t matter what your message is if the people don’t trust you and think you have nothing constructive to say. The future of California’s GOP doesn’t hinge on becoming more purely libertarian or more purely socially conservative; it hinges on building bridges to some important pro-growth groups who have stopped looking to Republicans for answers.

Published on January 15, 2013 12:15 pm