Today the Republican National Committee is gathered in Charlotte, North Carolina, where we are setting the party’s course for the next two years and beyond. Our efforts are focused on three main goals: renewing our party, growing our ranks, and winning more elections.
There is one clear, overriding lesson from November: we didn’t have enough voters. So, we have to find more supporters. We have to go places we haven’t been, and we have to invite new people to join us.
But the good news is our principles are sound. Yes, some would like us to compromise our principles. But that would make us little more than watered-down Democrats, and it would be wrong for our party and for our country.
As Republicans and as conservatives, we stand for opportunity and for liberty, and freedom is always a new idea—an ever-fresh, revolutionary idea. No one has come to America in search of a superior government bureaucracy. They come for a better life, in pursuit of happiness, a dream, a goal.
So we must stand by our timeless principles—and articulate them in ways that are modern, relevant to our time and relatable to the majority of voters.
Democrats are the party of big government. (The president’s inaugural address erased any lingering doubts about that.) Give Democrats a problem and they’ve got the same old solution: a federal bureaucracy. That’s not new. That’s not modern.
We live in an age of rapid, bottom-up, organic change. Yet our liberal-inspired government is slow, bloated, and out-of-date.
So we’re the party that offers something new. We’re the party of innovation, and innovation isn’t born from a government office building; it comes from garages and laboratories and dorm rooms. We are the party that says the individual can make better decisions than the bureaucrat.
We can unite Americans around our values if we prove we can take them to a better place. So we must take our message to all voters and to every state.
That means it’s time to stop looking at elections through the lens of “battleground states.” We have four years till the next presidential election, and being a “blue state” is not a permanent diagnosis.
We also have to take our message of opportunity where it’s not being heard. We have to build better relationships in minority communities, urban centers, and college towns. Simple “outreach” a few months before an election will not suffice. In fact, we must stop talking about “reaching out”—and start working on welcoming in.
And in the digital space, we don’t want just to keep up. We want to seize the lead. In the early 2000s, the RNC was on the cutting edge of voter data and micro-targeting, and we can be again.
As a party, we must recognize that we live in an era of permanent politics. We must stop living nominee-to-nominee, campaign to campaign. As we saw this election, our opponent benefited from a multi-year head-start. Now is the time to begin to develop a permanent, national field infrastructure and get a head-start of our own.
In all of this, we must promote our values. We must define ourselves before others define us.
There’s no better way to do that than to spotlight conservative policies in practice—and that is best seen today on the state level. States with Republican governors are creating more jobs. And in 2012, eight of the ten top states for business were led by Republicans.
Growing the party to be more welcoming and more inclusive does not require abandoning our principles. It doesn’t require resorting to the cynical, divisive identity politics of the Democratic Party; it means embracing our common identity as freedom-loving Americans.
In the next election, I don’t know who people will vote for. I don’t even know who will run. But I know this: We must be a Republican Party that people will want to join—a party that inspires again, an optimistic party that says “follow us to a brighter future,” a party of prosperity, success, and freedom.
That’s a party that can win.