The party stands for smaller government, far less federal spending, individual freedom, less intrusion, a strong national defense, lower taxes and supply-side, business-friendly economics. Far more than half of America believes in just the same tenets: Make no mistake, the nation is still solidly center-right.
But the GOP as it exists today almost completely prevents like-minded Americans from considering the party because it puts front and center ideologies that many categorically reject. While it espouses an ideology of individual freedom, it rejects that tenet for anyone not a white heterosexual male — women, blacks, Hispanics, gays, young people.
Take abortion. Who in 21st-century America really thinks abortion will be outlawed? Only hard-core, right-wing Republicans. And they actually put forward as members of their party two men who think such things as "legitimate rape" exist or that pregnancy from rape just may be "God's will." Mitt Romney tried to scrub those absurd views off him, to no avail. And for good reason: They are real beliefs of some in the Republican Party. (Um, the guys who pronounced them were party nominees.)
The Republican Party — which, by the way lost women to President Obama by 12 points — needs to run away from its archaic stance. Yes, object to abortion. Yes, work to make it rare. But move on: Abortion is here to stay. (And while you're at it, GOP, it might just be time also to abandon that vaunted "abstinence-only" policy that has been such a dismal failure.)
Second, gay marriage. On this, simply — who cares? America 2012 has enormous problems. Is this really an issue that matters to — anyone? Christians, two men getting married doesn't affect your marriage in any way. Get over it. The Republicans are on the wrong side of history on this issue, and Mr. Obama swept in millions of young voters by his tolerance. It's time to walk away.
On both issues, the GOP can make a clean break: As the party of individual freedom, the GOP can simply say it now sees that Americans — especially women — do have the right to choose their own path. In fact, the party espouses the freedoms enshrined in the Constitution, always has, so the turnabout won't even raise an eyebrow.
Such a recalibration would allow the millions of Americans who believe in the core Republican tenets to give the party a real evaluation at election time. Gone would be the hypocritical stances that invalidate the party for many voters before they can even weigh its differences with the Democratic Party.
If the Republican Party continues to press the notion that its biggest difference with Democrats is that it will fight to outlaw abortion and gay marriage, the GOP is done for good. Simple as that.