What went Wrong and Where do Republicans go from Now?

First and foremost I would like to state that I was planning on writing this article on November 9 2016, when I expected Hillary Clinton to beat Donald Trump. However, we all know how the 2016 election went. As a registered Republican myself, not only was I sceptical of Trump’s chances of winning the 2016 election, but I was also sceptical about the policies he would pursue in office. 

However, President Trump (at many times, along with the help of the Republican Congress) managed to exceed my expectations. Income and corporate taxes were cut, NAFTA was renegotiated, and unemployment reached a record low (especially for women and minorities). The US Embassy was moved to Jerusalem, and while the President’s critics warned that such a move would cause havoc, three Muslim-majority nations (include two Arab nations) signed peace deals with Israel. The territory occupied by the Islamic State is now tiny and the United States did not pursue in any new wars.

56% of Americans state that they are better off now in 2020 (despite the coronavirus pandemic) than they were in 2016. When the exit polls came out shortly after the election, they indicated that the economy was the most critical issue for the electorate. Republicans made significant gains in the House of Representatives and are very likely to keep control of the Senate. But what went wrong? Why didn’t President Trump win re-election? 

In my opinion, the American electorate rejected Trump’s opinion, not his policies. At times Trump’s rhetoric is justified, especially when it comes to questioning the censorship of the New York Post by tech giants and the origins of the Russia investigation. Yet calling to fire America’s lead epidemiologist Anthony Fauci, refusing to denounce conspiracy theories such as QAnon and calling John McCain a “loser” has only hurt him (the latter particularly in Arizona). So let’s say President Trump leaves the White House in January 2021: What can we as Republicans do to secure that a Republican returns on January 20 2025? 

The GOP must become a truly big tent party. Firstly, we need to win back voters lost during the 2016 and 2020 elections, mostly young, moderate voters who might agree with Trump’s policies but not his rhetoric. Especially with young voters, Republicans need to focus on issues such as combating climate change through the free market, instead of “green new deals” and supporting the rights of LGBT Americans without falling into the trap of identity politics. 

Secondly, Republicans must continue to appeal to minority voters. President Trump made significant gains with African Americans and Hispanics. Republicans ought to continue to focus on issues that are important to these communities. Furthermore, the party should continue with its America First foreign policy. It should demand that NATO allies pay up their dues and stay away from costly wars that will not alienate those in opposition to endless wars. 

President Trump put together a fantastic team and Republicans should really consider retaining some of Trump’s loyalists such as Ivanka Trump, or her husband Jared Kushner. These figures were heavily derided by the left and the media, yet they ended up proving them wrong about their abilities. Finally, Republicans need to continue calling out the radicalism of certain members of the Democratic Party.

President Trump did exceptionally well in the State of Florida and managed to flip two seats from blue to red. Florida Republicans and the Trump Campaign capitalized on the growing acceptance of socialism within the Democratic Party. The so-called “squad” easily won re-election while “Justice Democrats” (a group of young progressive democrats) managed to defeat several establishment incumbents in deep-blue districts. Even though Joe Biden won the White House, House Democrats are significantly divided between centrists, the establishment, and progressives, with the first group accusing the second group of not doing enough to contain the third group. As of 2021, I am confident that Republicans will be unified enough to win back the House and keep the Senate. 

Of course, a Biden Administration will mean that some Obama policies are likely to come back. For example,the United States may re-join the Iran Nuclear Deal and the Paris Accord. President Biden might issue executive orders expanding gun control and funding for Planned Parenthood. However, Republicans should be happy they still hold the Senate and have decreased the Democrats’ lead in the House (breaking records in electing more Republican women than ever!) Court-packing and Biden’s tax plan is dead on arrival along with the prospect of a far-left cabinet and judicial nominees. Nevertheless, the GOP should work with President Biden to make sure that there is support for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and that a vaccine is found and distributed quickly among the public. 

Many of my Republican friends and family are upset with the outcome of this election. At times I am too, given the small margins in multiple swing states. If President Trump was running against another candidate, he could have easily won. If the COVID-19 pandemic had never hit or Trump had contained his rhetoric more, it would have been an even easier victory. Allegations of voter fraud are abundant on social media. Even though voter fraud is a highly illegal and dangerous activity, it is also very rare. Electoral fraud is likely to account only for a small number of votes and definitely not enough to sway an election. The best thing Republicans can do is move on and accept the results. Democrats learned their lesson every time they screamed “Russia, Russia, Russia!” Republicans should not sink to that level. 

We must recall that in 1976 the incumbent Republican President, Gerald Ford, lost re-election to Jimmy Carter. Carter’s tenure lasted only four years before missing out on re-election to the best President America ever had: Ronald Reagan. The Republican Party has a lot of talent. A diverse group of men and women, young and old, of all races and backgrounds. Nikki Haley, Marco Rubio, Tim Scott, Ben Sasse, Josh Hawley, Kristi Noem and Adam Kinzinger, just to name a few, are all-powerful contenders to challenge President Biden (or VP Kamala Harris and any other Democrat should knock-on-wood something happens to his health). The future of the Republican Party is bright, and the best is yet to come!

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