It’s time for the GOP to let “lifestyle liberals” into the tent

I’m sure the headline to this post will get a lot of people here at RMG all lathered up. It’s not what they may think it means. It’s not about letting people who believe recklessly in an  updated caricature of “acid, abortion and amnesty.”

The GOP needs to grow. Last year it lost the college educated voter, whose supported it enjoyed since the 1980s. There is legitimate strategy to expand the party to include what Michael Petrilli calls the “Whole Food Republicans.” The organic supermarket chain was founded by a John Mackey who was out front recently criticizing Obamacare and probably offending more than half his customers. There are thousands of people who pursue a “progressive lifestyle” which includes adopters of technology, new market-oriented environmentalist and tolerance of diversity. Yep, sound a lot like a Weld Republican.

The demographic divide isn’t going to help the GOP in the future as older voters die off. The GOP hasn’t made a dent in the universities, Hollywood and other places of cultural production.

Widening [the] cultural divide has long been part of the GOP playbook, going back to Nixon’s attacks on “East Coast intellectuals” and forward to candidate Obama’s arugula-eating tendencies. But with the white working class shrinking and the educated “creative class” growing, playing the populism card looks like a strategy of subtraction rather than addition. A more enlightened approach would be to go after college-educated voters, to make the GOP safe for smarties again.

What’s needed is a full-fledged effort to cultivate “Whole Foods Republicans”-independent-minded voters who embrace a progressive lifestyle but not progressive politics. These highly-educated indiividuals appreciate diversity and would never tell racist or homophobic jokes; they like living in walkable urban environments; they believe in environmental stewardship, community service and a spirit of inclusion. And yes, many shop at Whole Foods, which has become a symbol of progressive affluence but is also a good example of the free enterprise system at work. (Not to mention that its founder is a well-known libertarian who took to these pages to excoriate ObamaCare as inimical to market principles.)

What makes these voters potential Republicans is that, lifestyle choices aside, they view big government with great suspicion. There’s no law that someone who enjoys organic food, rides his bike to work, or wants a diverse school for his kids must also believe that the federal government should take over the health-care system or waste money on thousands of social programs with no evidence of effectiveness. Nor do highly educated people have to agree that a strong national defense is harmful to the cause of peace and international cooperation.

It’s time for the GOP to think outside of the South. Read the entire article and consider the possibilities.  

About Karl Marx

Left wing libertarian conservative.