The presidential election of 2012 could not have been more different from that of 2008 for me personally. For the Republican Party as a whole, however, things were very much unchanged. In 2008, I was a freshman in college, still acclimating to a new environment in which I had not found my niche. Coming from a public school in South Carolina, it seemed that everyone around me was from a private school in the Northeast. While I was not entirely wrong, I wasn’t entirely correct either. There were people from all over the world at Duke; something that I came to love about my Alma Mater and a characteristic of the school that has and will continue to serve me well throughout my lifetime.
In 2008, I put minimal effort into following campaigns. In 2012, I worked on one. In 2008, I did not watch a single debate, writing them off as a forum for spewing empty promises, falsified claims against their opponent, and downright lies. Today, those views haven’t really changed, but I watched (most of) them. Since the election of 2008, I have become fascinated by health policy and passionate about being a part of valuable health care reform. I’ve yet to catch the “political bug,” but I do recognize the importance of politics as a facilitator of change.
If I told you I was any less cynical about the American government, I would be lying. The more I have learned about the system, the more frustrated I’ve become over its ineffectiveness and partisanship at the expense of American progress. Even more frustrating has been the stubbornness of the Republican Party to acknowledge and conform to this change. Instead of adapting to changing times and the increasingly diverse American population, the conservative right created the Tea Party to further divide the GOP and push moderate conservatives to the other ticket.
I have grown a lot since the election of 2008, mostly from my experiences at Duke, but I cannot say the same for the Republican Party. The diverse population of Duke is representative of the melting pot that is the United States. My experiences there were more valuable because of my constant interaction with people so different from myself, from all over the country and world, from different backgrounds and cultures, and from families unlike my own. At Duke, I learned just as much outside the classroom as I did inside it. And I learned more about myself from my acceptance of people vastly different from me than I ever could have while surrounded by others like myself, constrained by similarity.
The election results can be informative if the Republican Party allows them to be. Moving farther right means shutting out more and more populations who are crucial to gain the majority and win the presidential election. Republicans gained only 33 percent of the Latino vote. The story was similar for young voters (36%) and women (44%), especially single women (31%).
I hope that the next four years will not be a replication of the political stagnancy and economic decline that defined the last four. I hope that Republicans will realize that inclusion trumps exclusion. But I hope more than anything they do this genuinely and for the right reasons. I want the Republican Party to believe that the diversity (in every sense of the word) of Americans is one of our country’s greatest strengths, and that by working together, we can move our country forward. I want them to believe that reaching across the aisle to make compromise for the good of our country is vital to its continued prosperity.
Is it wrong to want a Grand New Party?