Republicans need reform to embrace voters for 2016 election

Justin Bis

Are the Republicans really the anti-gay, anti-minority, anti-women party?

If you just watch television and browse through Facebook, you probably think they are.

Despite what you may have heard on those various platforms, there’s another side of the story you’re not hearing.

Yes, there is a vocal minority of anti-gay, anti-minority, anti-women bigots who grab hold of national headlines and online media, yet for some reason Republicans are sometimes unable to grab that megaphone back and educate voters about their real poltical views.

Just like how people understand that the Westborough Baptist Church doesn’t represent all Christians, the Grand Old Party (GOP) must get people to understand that the vocal minority doesn’t speak for the rest of them.

If there was a lesson to be learned from the 2012 election, it was this: communication is the key factor in a political campaign. And the Republican party has a huge communication problem based on the previous election’s results.

Mitt Romney lost because he was successfully painted as an evil vulture capitalist who cared little for everyday people — let alone his family dog.

Mitt Romney failed in portraying himself as a tough job creator and a businessman who could use his experience to work across the aisle.

The image and persona the Obama team created around Romney was so infectious and powerful that even as a Republican, I couldn’t resist but listen to David Letterman’s parody video entitled “Mitt Romney Gangnam Style” with glee.

Most of the metrics that political analysts use to determine the outcome pointed toward a Republican victory.

Economic recessions, broad political dissatisfaction, broken policy promises — they all should have culminated to Obama being routed.

The swing voters are apolitical and very moderate; they swing whenever and wherever the economy goes.

But for some reason, they broke tradition and voted for Obama.

The number one reason given why they didn’t jump ship to the Republican column was found in the exit polling: Romney wasn’t relatable enough.

Newsflash — elections aren’t decided by policy.

They are decided on how the ignorant a swing voter “feels” about a candidate.

A party’s image isn’t formed from policy positions, but rather Saturday Night Live skits, Facebook memes and soundbites found on Youtube.

That is the battle that the GOP is losing — not necessarily in ideas but in messaging.

The fact is the conservative narrative can appeal to all Americans of different race, faiths and orientations.

How we’re branding conservatism only appeals to roughly less than half of Americans. You don’t win elections by appealing to less than half of the voters.

GOP leaders not only need to be better Facebook and Twitter users, they need to make a serious outreach effort to the lesbian, gays, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, Latinos, African Americans and young people.

That means recruiting LGBT conservatives to run for election, as well as penetrating inner-city and local politics.

Once the brand and credibility is built up from the local and state side, the GOP can use this newfound network to neutralize the democratic racial and LGBT advantage.

I’m proud to be part of this Republican revitalization effort. The NMU College Republicans (of which I am chairman) authored a resolution that was passed by the statewide organization of College Republican chapters.

The resolution is very clear: the time to change the tone of GOP messaging is now.

The resolution condemns the recent comments of a GOP leader from Michigan — who linked research on Facebook that made outrageous claims regarding LGBTs.

Republicans need to be aggressively courting these voters, not turning them away by acting like a bigot, so their deplorable statements can be attributed to the GOP.

There are so many Americans who are fiscally conservative and ambiguous or moderate on social issues.

They are scared off by the Democrats’ attacks on Republicans and the crazed remarks of old racists claiming to be a part of the Republican leadership.

These American moderates then hesitantly vote Democrat because at least the Democrats are nice people and seemingly treat everyone with respect.

These Americans should be voting Republican and they would be voting Republican if Republicans changed their tone and their branding.

The path for a Republican revival in 2016 isn’t by changing our policy platform substantially. It’s by changing the perception of who Republicans are.

LGBTs — Republicans want you to join the party.

As the traditional party of civil rights and civil liberties, Republicans will make sure that you are treated equally before the law.

The Republican party is an individualist party.

We believe that your life and your identification aren’t tied to your parent’s wealth, to your race or even to your sexual orientation.

Your identity is yours, and the Republican party and its policy will protect your right to privacy and will treat you as an American and nothing more or less.

As a conservative party, Republicans will keep your taxes low, keep tyrannical government out of your life and will protect you from people who won’t let you live the life you want to live.