New Reality Means Social Issues No Longer Benefit the Republican Brand

Notion That GOP Can't Operate as a 'Mad Men' Party in a 'Modern Family' America Rings True

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I'm a registered Republican. I share this not because I want acceptance or rejection, but because I want the following to be taken for what it is -- not a mental exercise by someone who doesn't care, but a suggestion by someone who does.

Less 'Mad Men,' more 'Modern Family'
In the wake of the election, Matthew Dowd, who worked on the re-election campaign of President George W. Bush, told "Good Morning America" that the party had become a ""Mad Men' party in a "Modern Family' America."

He's right.

Plenty are going to claim that Mr. Romney wasn't conservative enough. They will clamor for a candidate who thinks America's problems can be solved with prayer in school, fewer birth-control options, shoving gays back into the closet and obsessing over what constitutes rape.

And they can enjoy securing the Electoral College votes of Mississippi and Alabama for a few more election cycles. That and few million dollars in advertising will get you an elaborate "We Lost" party on election night.

'Modern Family'
'Modern Family'

If ABC can get a prime-time hit with a show like "Modern Family," maybe it's time to move on.

Corporate America -- not exactly known for its progressivism -- has adjusted to a new reality. It may not always know the best way to target women, gays, minorities and youth, but it knows it should be doing so -- and spends a lot of money fine-tuning its messages, seeking to entice rather than to alienate.

Society is changing. The majority of millennials -- a youth vote that actually shows up and votes -- will have no truck with an anti-gay agenda and platforms that curb women's rights. And neither will women. And neither will gays.

Many of these people would be open to the financial platform of the Republican party. Yet they vote against their economic interests because they care deeply about what they (correctly) see as civil-rights issues. With the economy in the tank and things not looking any better, this should have been a cakewalk for Mr. Romney. And what have I heard repeatedly? "I was going to vote for Romney, but I just couldn't."

Back in time
With all the talk of not turning back the clock, perhaps Republicans should reset their own. There was a time when Republicans were the party of fiscal responsibility and, supposedly, a certain amount of individual liberty. Now, the party seems confused. It expects voters to see its candidates as economic grown-ups, but these same candidates spend an entire primary season shouting like children to prove who Jesus likes best. That sounds like a joke, but it isn't.

Some could argue that Mr. Romney and running mate Paul Ryan would have edged the party back toward its economic roots. After all, Mr. Ryan had an actual plan that should have resonated with Gen Xers and millennials who suspect that by the time they hit retirement, any government plan they've paid into will have long gone bust. Mr. Ryan, however, was also a social conservative -- and his pick was announced right at the time of the Todd Akin "legitimate rape" embarrassment.

You can run $1 billion worth of TV ads proclaiming your support of small business and the middle class and the next generation, but the message will be completely lost on these new demographics if they think voting with you would put them on the wrong side of history.

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