Michael Steele, then-chair of the Republican National Committee, criticized Obama’s stimulus plan as “a wish list from a lot of people who have been on the sidelines for years … to get a little bling, bling.” Steele, who wanted to expand the GOP’s appeal to young voters, used the expression to, in Steele’s words, “take the party to the streets,” while making the GOP more “relevant” to “urban-suburban hip-hop settings.”
In 2008, Obama took 66 percent of the 18-to-29-year-old vote, and 60 percent in 2012. To broaden the GOP’s appeal, consultants hold forums, town halls and focus groups to figure out ways to attract the youth vote. Is it the core message — low taxes, low regulation, secure boarders and strong national security — that young voters find off-putting? Is it the messenger? Former Democratic Chair Howard Dean once referred to the GOP as the “white” party.
An April 2013 Washington Post/ABC News poll found 65 percent of young people thought the Republican Party was “out of touch.” Only 47 percent considered the Democratic Party “out of touch.” Focus groups find young voters, largely because of the GOP position on abortion and same-sex marriage, dismiss the GOP as the party that “tells people how to live their lives.”
Blame the GOP, in large part, for either being confused on its approach to social issues or confused on how to talk about them. On domestic issues, the GOP should be the “federalism,” growth and empowerment party. Social issues such as gay marriage, abortion and drugs, where the U.S. Constitution is silent, are state matters to be fought at the state level — not matters addressed by the federal government.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Republican appointee and arguably the most conservative justice, said the courts lack the expertise and judgment to resolve issues like same-sex marriage, abortion and doctor-assisted suicide.
Scalia argues that such issues are state matters: “On controversial issues on stuff like homosexual rights, abortion, we debate with each other and persuade each other and vote on it either through representatives or a constitutional amendment. … Whether it’s good or bad is not my job. My job is simply to say if those things you find desirable are contained in the Constitution.”