The Humphrey School of Public Affairs invited Peter Wehner to speak about the direction of the Republican Party and its impact on the 2016 election. Wehner is no stranger to politics.
Wehner, a graduate of The University of Washington, worked in the Reagan, G. H. W. Bush, and G.W. Bush administrations in various capacities, and is an op-ed writer for The New York Times.
Now, Wehner travels and pens his support for the reform conservative movement. During his talk, Wehner described the movement as holding on to Republican values but shifting focus on a few issues. Mainly asserting the party should move on from gay marriage and be more conscious of issues such as poverty, education, and people leaving the labor force.
The GOP is that it is the governing party of the country. Wehner believes that this is where the good news ends for Republicans. Democrats have lost over 900 state seats, 12 Governors, and has lost its majority in Congress since 2009.
Elections prior were determined by the white vote. According to Wehner, 2012 was the first time that the presidency was determined by the non-white vote. He continued to say that the white vote has decreased by 2% every year since 1967 while the minority vote has gone up by 2%. Wehner’s findings are backed up by a Brookings post-election study which found the same results.
He shocked the older crowd by suggesting that the party should adopt the strategies of Bill Clinton and Tony Blair.
Wehner focused in on Bill Clinton and how he defined and changed the Democratic Party through policies such as tough on crime and welfare. He continued on to say that it is not about tearing up the playbook but adding a few key issues that let voters know that the party understands the social aspects of what is happening.
The Q & A session showed some hostility towards Wehner’s concept of abandoning Republican principles for more social discussions.
Ending the discussion, Wehner spoke about the possibilities of a contested convention. He stated that if Trump was within a few dozen delegates, he would probably be the nominee. If not, it would most likely be Senator Cruz.
Wehner ultimately believes that the GOP might have to lose this cycle in order to learn to compromise and change, saying it is “the only way” that the GOP can try to compete with the Democrats.
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