IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

The GOP response: Why not say what we actually believe?

They say that if you aren’t a liberal when you’re young, you don’t have a heart. And if you aren’t a conservative when you’re older, you don’t have
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP)
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio

They say that if you aren’t a liberal when you’re young, you don’t have a heart. And if you aren’t a conservative when you’re older, you don’t have a brain.

Well, if Republicans want to hold onto that distinction, they’d better get a little smarter.

It seems like we can no longer perform basic math. Instead of multiplying voters we prefer instead to divide them.

Exhibit A? Rand Paul and Marco Rubio will give dueling opposition responses to the president’s State of the Union Address , Paul speaking for the Tea Party and Rubio for the GOP.

The impulse to compete in a marketplace of ideas is actually a good one. I love that the conservative movement encompasses libertarians, moderates, fiscal hawks and values voters. And I love that we have different ideas about how to fix the nation’s problems. But not when it has the appearance of confusion and division. If Paul and Rubio were speaking from the same studio, with nuanced and distinct arguments but as one united voice in opposition to the Democrats, I’d like this idea a whole lot more. But instead of taking this rare opportunity to show our unity, we’re choosing to highlight our disagreements.

Exhibit B? Karl Rove wanting to use his new Super PAC to weed out strident conservatives, the announcement of which immediately had the deleterious effect of, well, angering strident conservatives. Republicans will never win elections and attract new voters if we’re constantly trying to marginalize each other, and the voters we already have.

And exhibit C. Former Rep. Steve LaTourette, a Republican from Ohio, thinks Republicans should soften their stance on gun issues and relax their support of the NRA–to win over more women voters.

Never mind that there is a strong case to make to women for greater gun rights, not fewer. Or that participation in the NRA’s Women on Target program shot up 26% in 2012.

Let’s forget about the fact that more registered voters surveyed by Quinnipiac say the NRA better reflects their views on guns than Obama does. And that voters have a higher opinion of the NRA than they do Hollywood.

And let’s ignore the numbers – that gun ownership in 2011 spiked to record levels – not because more men, Republicans or Southerners were buying them but because more women, Democrats and people living in every region of the country but the South were.

No, let’s take a position that we believe in and a message that works well for conservatives, and change it, to try to win voters who are uneasy about gun rights to begin with and who weren’t going to vote Republican anyway. That makes a ton of sense.

If the only way to win new voters is to lose current voters, I’m pretty sure that math won’t work out too well for us. We have to take every opportunity we can to agree with one another, instead of reveling in the opportunities to disagree. I love the intellectual diversity of our party. Let’s celebrate it without fetishizing it.