The question I have been asked to answer is, “What can Texas Republicans do to better appeal to young, moderate, college-educated people?” One might assume that a former leader of the High School Republicans of Texas and the Texas Federation of College Republicans would have a good answer. Honestly, I cannot tell you that there is a silver bullet to the problem. If there was, people who are paid much more than I am would have already come up with it. My best answer would be the Republican Party of Texas needs to listen to the voices of those already inclined to support it, but wary of reactionary efforts designed merely to raise passions in efforts to boost primary votes. So long as the most vocal and prominent members of the Party are focused on their primary margins, these younger and less stridently traditional voters will not truly feel at home within the Republican Party.
With all due respect, I believe a part of the problem might be inherent in the question itself. The question asked how the GOP could appeal to “moderate” people. I believe that this assumption, that anyone who does not support a measure such as the “bathroom bill” is a moderate creates a divide among potential voters who largely carry the same worldview. Someone can believe strongly in free markets and free peoples, but oppose more culturally conservative measures. My proposal? Let’s stick to the issues that turned Texas red in the first place: fiscal responsibility, limited government and an economic growth agenda. Let us not forget that Governor George W. Bush ran on these themes in the 1998 gubernatorial election and won 68 percent of the vote, including now staunchly Democratic Travis County. We are the party of the “Texas Economic Miracle.” Let’s stick to that.
In addition to this refocus on issues of government competency, the Party should make a concerted effort to embrace those who might support us on a wide majority of measures, but not on one or two tenets. President Reagan once said that someone who disagreed with him 80 percent of the time was his 80 percent friend, not his 20 percent enemy. But today’s Republican Party of Texas has a dedicated plank of its platform that allows local Republican Executive
Committees to “censure” Republican office holders for not supporting any one of the “principles of the Republican Party of Texas.” Rather than inspire a community of diverse opinions with lively and strong debate, this kind of provision just goes to show the general lack of intellectual freedom and debate that is present in far too many Republican communities today.
Let me be absolutely clear: What I say here is a friendly suggestion from a member of the team, not a broadside on the Party. As I have stated here, we are strongest when we are diverse, accepting and united. The question was, “How does the GOP reach out to college-educated, young, moderate potential supporters?” My answer? Listen to them and treat their concerns with sincerity.
Campbell is a second-year law student from East Fork, Mississippi. He is the Republican Party Precinct #208 Chair.