The winds seem to be changing within the Republican Party. The 2008 election loss might just have been the perfect storm for the social conservative wing of the party to take a back seat to the small government, fiscal conversative Republican wing. The Bush years signified the former. The condition of the country as President-elect Obama is about to take over, would suggest that the social conservatives’ leadership has come to an end. The American people, and the Republican establishment to a lesser extent, seem to have run out of patience for the social conservative agenda.
The 2008 Republican primary hinted at the new direction of the party. John McCain, hardly the Evangelical favorite, won the nomination. Behind him, Ron Paul’s online following and fundraising phenomenon opened the party’s eyes to the support emanating from the Libertarian wing of the party. Even Mitt Romney, who tried to play to social conversatives, still carries the brand of a fiscal conversative more than anything else, due to his days in the private sector.
The New York Times reported some time ago about the new ideas and leadership rising at the grassroots level of the Republican Party. These leaders are symbolized by David Frum, Patrick Ruffini and Mindy Finn. They represent the party’s new direction, that is based less on the divisive politics of today’s Republicans – gay marriage, abortion, guns – and more on fixing the fiscal mess and growing government that was propelled under the Bush Administration.
Look no further than the manifesto taking shape on Ruffini’s Rebuild the Party. There are some great ideas there and it will be interesting to see how far he and others can take this message to the Republican Party leadership. It will be telling too whether the Rebuild the Party leaders can become leaders in the RNC.
And make no mistake, as the Republican Party built the offline word-of-mouth programs and detailed databases beginning in the late 1990s through the 2000s, they will again emerge on top after the massive social media success of Obama.
As a non-partisan observer, I simply see the next generation Republican leaders and ideas being exchanged in a more organic way that will cause strong roots to take shape. I don’t see the same thing from the Democrats, even though they were first to market with many online social media tools.
We’ll be watching and I’ll be sure to revisit this blog post in 2012.