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We can remake the GOP into the majority party of the new century

We can remake the GOP into the majority party of the new century
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Throughout the 2020 presidential campaign, Joe BidenJoe BidenFederal Reserve chair: Economy would have been 'so much worse' without COVID-19 relief bills Biden to meet Monday with bipartisan lawmakers about infrastructure Jill Biden gives shout out to Champ, Major on National Pet Day MORE habitually sought to link President TrumpDonald TrumpGaetz was denied meeting with Trump: CNN Federal Reserve chair: Economy would have been 'so much worse' without COVID-19 relief bills Police in California city declare unlawful assembly amid 'white lives matter' protest MORE with “Park Avenue” or “Wall Street” in the minds of voters. Biden was the “regular guy” from Scranton, representing their values, and Trump was the hero of Park Avenue, championing the interests of the elite.

Of course Biden knew it wasn’t true. It was sheer demagoguery. Had Joe Biden ventured out of his basement long enough to take a five-minute stroll down Park Avenue, it would have been inescapable that Park Avenue and its elites were virtually unanimous in their support for him, not Donald Trump. 

The votes cast in the election by the elites whom Biden claimed were the powers behind the Trump throne likewise proved that the truth was exactly the opposite of what Biden had sought to convince middle America.

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Meanwhile, in labor union halls and beer-and-a-shot bars across middle America, working men and women eschewed the Park Avenue, Hollywood and media elites to support Donald Trump in record numbers. One of the transformational aspects of the Trump presidency was the emergence of the Republican Party as a working person’s party.

There’s an emerging populist Republican Party that doesn’t look much like the silk stocking variety of our grandparents. It’s demographically and socially much more diverse. It has significant and growing numbers of African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans.

Its power centers are not country clubs or elite gatherings in urban centers. They’re in American Legion halls and small-town diners. The Republican Party of the future is a people’s party, living under a much bigger tent than ever before.

The Big Tent of the conservative movement and the GOP has always made some uncomfortable. That’s understandable. But it’s not acceptable. The right has been confronted with the reality that we can be a very comfortable and complacent minority, or we can be a dynamic, growing and uncomfortable majority.

Those who choose to opt for the minority relegate themselves and their ideas to irrelevance in the future. Winning politics has always been about addition and multiplication. Subtraction and division may feel good to a privileged few, but a political party doesn’t have the luxury of exclusion — nor should it.

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The truth of this is evident in the returns in presidential elections over the past few decades. When Trump won more votes than any Republican candidate in history this year, many cheered. When he proved the pundits dead wrong by taking a larger portion of the minority vote than any GOP presidential hopeful in six decades, it opened a lot of eyes. Yet it wasn’t enough.

Irregularities and questions about the numbers aside, this is nothing new. The difficult fact for the GOP is that, since Ronald Reagan occupied 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Republicans have won a plurality of the popular vote for president only once.

Trump lost the popular vote in 2016, despite winning the presidency. George W. Bush did the same in 2000. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyTwo sheriff's deputies shot by gunman in Utah Romney blasts end of filibuster, expansion of SCOTUS On management of Utah public lands, Biden should pursue an accountable legislative process MORE, John McCainJohn Sidney McCainColbert mocks Gaetz after Trump denies he asked for a pardon Five reasons why US faces chronic crisis at border Meghan McCain calls on Gaetz to resign MORE, Bob Dole and George H.W. Bush all lost both the popular vote and the Electoral College vote. Only George Bush, in 2004, won the popular vote. That’s seven out of the last eight national elections.

Prior to that, Republicans won landslides. Bush’s huge victory in 1988 was a reaffirmation of the Reagan presidency and his ability to communicate a conservative vision. Reagan won two landslides himself, including the biggest electoral victory in U.S. history, his epic 49-state sweep in 1984. Richard Nixon also carried 49 states a few years previous. 

The electorate has grown significantly in the half-decade since. The issues have shifted. The conservative principles upon which the republic will thrive, individual liberty remain protected, public safety assured and prosperity created are unchanged. The messages necessary to communicate those values are changing. 

The Republican Party is now a people’s party. The vision of its future must focus on the people. No longer can minorities be held in check by empty promises of the ever left-moving Democratic Party. That will require specific policy initiatives that speak to the heart of these constituencies. It also will require messages that communicate the truth of their nature and the vision of their result.

There are some vanguard elements for a victorious battle for the minds of a winning coalition for the future. Health care is an obvious lead element. Republicans and conservatives have ceded way too much ground on this issue in recent years, with disastrous results. A patient-focused, market-driven, people-connecting approach — especially as we emerge from this pandemic — can’t be overlooked. 

Education looms larger than ever. School choice is an increasingly powerful message, especially for those who don’t want their children’s future determined by their ZIP code. Providing increasingly innovative ways for student options and choices is essential to winning the hearts and minds of those looking to the education system for a lifeline.

Focusing on individualization of education is a key component of a new education policy. The one-size-fits-all model of the past won’t meet the challenges of the future. That means fewer students will be running the traditional route through a four-year liberal arts college. Far more will be plotting their own path to greater success.

Public safety is always at the core of the proper function of government. Public safety is enhanced in a variety of ways, from local police forces to the strongest military in history. It’s also built through maintaining  the world’s greatest infrastructure. Sadly, too many conservatives have hesitated, on grounds of fiscal discipline, to promote a robust approach to roads, bridges, ports, pipelines and other lifeblood veins.

Not only is infrastructure vital to public safety, it’s essential to economic growth and the opportunities being sought by the newest members of the people’s party. For the “Old Bulls” of the GOP, it’s important to remember that the U.S. Constitution only talks about federal spending on two things: our military and our roads.

The opportunity for a new, vibrant and growing party is before us. It’s an opportunity to transform the Grand Old Party to the majority party of the new century. Renewed hope, economic growth, new opportunities and individual liberty are the essential building blocks.

Charlie Gerow, first vice chairman of the American Conservative Union, has held national leadership positions in several Republican presidential campaigns. A nationally recognized expert in strategic communications, he is CEO of Quantum Communications, a Pennsylvania-based media relations and issue advocacy firm. Follow him on Twitter @Charlie_Gerow.