Ghavri: Watch and Learn, Republicans

by Anmol Ghavri | 10/20/15 7:15pm

Democratic presidential candidate and former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley summed up the differences between Republican and Democratic party rhetoric when he concluded the Oct. 13 debate, saying “on this stage, you didn’t hear anyone denigrate women, you didn’t hear anyone make racist comments about new immigrants, you didn’t hear anyone speak ill of anyone because of their religious belief.”

Indeed, while not as controversial or headline grabbing as the GOP debate, the first Democratic presidential debate thoroughly and elegantly addressed the issues of immigration reform, income and racial inequality, women’s rights, climate change and foreign policy. The first two Republican presidential debates, as Heather Digby Parton asserted in her Salon column “Trump’s America vs. Hillary’s America,” portrayed America as a “dystopian hellscape in which evil, violent foreigners are trying to kill us in our beds while rapacious jackbooted government thugs try to wrestle our guns from our cold, dead fingers.” If the Republican Party wants to find itself in the White House come 2016, they should stop fear-mongering and name calling, and instead offer a practical and substantiated policy agenda.

The Republican field is very split, and to call the field too large would be an understatement. The candidates, particularly Donald Trump, is notorious for making false statements. In fact, Politifact has rated 74 percent of the statements by Donald Trump that they have reviewed as mostly false, false or “pants on fire.” 84 percent of candidate Ben Carson’s statements reviewed by Politifact are rated as mostly false, false or “pants on fire.” The lying, brashness, name-calling and lack of substance in Republican policies have alienated a great deal of Americans while mobilizing the worst fears of America in a demagogic manner.

Any attempt to call out the rudeness, arrogance and xenophobia in the GOP platform seems to be decried as “political correctness.” Republican attempts to disparage Hillary Clinton through the Benghazi investigation and her email scandal have not won the GOP any new support or significantly damaged Clinton’s presidential bid. Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders captured much of America’s sentiment during the first Democratic Presidential debate when he told Hillary Clinton that “the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails.” The GOP strategy has failed and must evolve for the party to have a chance at winning the presidency.

If the GOP can learn anything from the Democratic debate, it’s that they should stop blaming everyone else for America’s problems and focus on what policies can improve the country. Candidates like Donald Trump and Ben Carson must stop making promises without substance and factually incorrect statements that many Americans mistakenly believe. Their continued use of these tactics only works to alienate women, immigrant, minority and youth voters — ultimately undermining the Republican cause. The GOP’s leading candidates must offer a policy agenda with substance and stop talking down to America.

Rather than viciously attack Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama, the Republican candidates should consider using their platforms to let Americans know what is working in America. This is where the Democrats have a leg up — they are able to help voters understand which policies help to make America the most powerful and prosperous country on Earth, while also acknowledging those that harm the country. Parton expressed this divide between the GOP and the Democrats in her Salon column, when she wrote that Democratic leaders see America as a powerful country “struggling with a declining middle class and economic insecurity at the hands of the ultra-rich.” The party, she said, understands that a degree of government intervention is required to narrow the income gap, find solutions to halt climate change and manage global crises without going to war overseas.

If the GOP can restructure its message and way of communicating in the next year, it may be able to compete with the Democrats. The Republican field needs to decrease in size, and the party needs to create a sharper and more coherent and practical platform. Above all, they to start talking about their plans to move America forward instead of pointing fingers and appealing to people’s fears.