Ailing GOP Needs a Religious Reformer

Modernizing party can't forget its base: Michael Gerson
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 18, 2013 10:36 AM CDT
Ailing GOP Needs a Religious Reformer
In this Aug. 30, 2012 file photo, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan take the stage with their wives, Ann Romney and Janna Ryan, at the end of the Republican National Convention.   (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

The Republican Party might win the odd national vote in the coming years, but it needs a long-term prescription: Eventually, "there won’t be enough white and gray voters to win national elections," writes Michael Gerson in the Washington Post. But as the party seeks to reform, it can't forget about the religious conservatives that form its biggest constituency. Just look at David Cameron: He's tried to expand the appeal of Britain's Tories and is losing his base in the process.

In short, the GOP "needs to become more socially inclusive without becoming socially liberal," Gerson notes. In addition to policy changes, the effort calls for a special candidate, one who can focus on reform while maintaining "the sympathy of religious conservatives." It's a challenge, but the key is for the candidate "to appeal to religious conviction as a motivation for reform." He or she might push prison reform or seek to lower the school dropout rate, Gerson suggests. We've seen hints of the religious strategy from Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio, but such instances "remain rare." Click for Gerson's full column. (Read more Michael Gerson stories.)

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