Sitting down to write an article the morning after the US Presidential election and I, like seemingly the majority of the UK population, are simply relieved with the result. President Barack Obama will have four more years in the White House to ensure progress, progress which he will have to achieve in many areas to maintain popular support. First and foremost he will have to focus on the economy- America wants and needs to be returned to consistent and stable economic growth, a goal that has to take priority over all other considerations, Americans will not take another four years of bickering over healthcare. Once the economy is back on track Obama can then start to implement his welfare and social policies in earnest, he has the chance to make America a much more prosperous and stable society over the next four years, an opportunity which he can’t afford to pass him by.
But where does this leave the defeated Republicans? How do they need to react to this defeat? And what policies should they be looking to adopt in four years’ time?
Well, the vital issue of this election was clearly the economy, and the Grand Old Party’s Grand Old economic ideas just didn’t sufficiently convince the American population. Their liberal economic notions suggested a form of trickledown economics more appropriate to a previous age, unable to ensure future advancement. I believe the inadequacy of this ideology was exposed to many Americans through the Great Recession; there is now a more common acceptance that the capitalist system is flawed and requires to be kept in check by at least a moderate form of government intervention. Mitt Romney’s policy to decrease business regulations therefore didn’t sit too well with many Americans. However, I do not believe that more traditional, economically liberal policies are set to come to an end in the States; they just need to modernise, to encapsulate the American notions of individual freedom and liberty in a 21st Century context. This means, for the GOP, devising a new strategy that maintains regulations on financial corporations and other socially vital private institutions, and yet putting in place comprehensive, cutting edge measures to promote business and enterprise, particularly in terms of technological sectors. Furthermore, the Republican Party needs to shake off the isolationist dogmatism which has led them to reject further economic links with China. Instead of seeing China as a competitor, the GOP must see China as a potential collaborator to commonly boost economic growth in both nations. They need to realise that if the USA starts an economic battle with China- it will lose, it’s as simple as that. Domestically, the Republicans need to show that they intend to help small businesses much more than large, that they can ensure greater, more innovative economic growth than the Democrats, whilst promoting a similar amount of equality and economic fairness. This may be a tall order, but they need to intently progress their economic outlook, rather than looking wistfully towards the past.
In terms of social policy, the GOP also has much to reform. Specifically, they need to accept that in modern society gay marriage and a women’s right to choose are vital, fundamental principles. They need to look around the world and observe the struggles which are still occurring over gay and women’s rights and ensure that, as the leading cultural influence in the developed Western world, that they promote the most developed cultural values. Essentially, they need to emancipate themselves from their outdated interpretations and be a party of the people, rather than of their traditional philosophies.
To achieve these changes though, they need a strong, energised leader with a vision to drive the party forward with modernity and innovation- not one who comes directly from the school of political expediency. At the very least I hope that in four years’ time there will be a Republican Party which produces a candidate who doesn’t make me want to sob at the thought of them becoming President. And at the very most, I hope that they produce a new economic strategy based on the key concepts of entrepreneurship and technological investment, fostering individual liberty and self-determination, and yet protecting against the threats of concentrated capital.
For now though, it is time to focus on Barack Obama and his strife to fulfil his electoral promises. Yes, the Republicans can have a significant hand in this by supporting him in Congress, but the spotlight is firmly fixed on Obama and the pressure is on to deliver in terms of economic growth, welfare and various other social issues. In terms of the Republicans, they need to conduct an analysis of their campaign, and come back fighting with a new, modern vision to challenge the Democrats in four years’ time.
By Sam Bright