Well, here it was, the moment many of us had been waiting for. There were threats of hurricane, potential protests by opposing ideologies, along with other tiny, yet crucial issues. Yet the Republican National Convention went on as planned with millions of Americans watching.
To many, the three days in Tampa appeared to be nothing more than a run-of-the mill convention. There were the keynote speakers, political tributes and the closing with the presidential candidate’s speech, which is exactly what makes the difference as well.
The first look is at the speakers: Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and even the vice presidential nominee, Paul Ryan. These men had certain qualities that were rather obscure when compared to past conventions. These men were either in their first terms of their respective offices or were not statewide officeholders. Furthermore, all three men were under the age of fifty and non-WASP. Although this has not been a first for the Republican Party, it is uncommon for the party to host this demographic. In fact, it was just four years ago that many coined the Republican Party as one made up of old, white Christians. Well, the party may not have strayed completely from this label, but they certainly have made progress in terms of their image.
Convention rhetoric has begun to change as well. During previous conventions, there had been strong emphasis on conservative social issues, support for military strength and strong displays of patriotism. Ironically, economic issues, despite Reagan’s influence, were only highlighted as a status-quo issue for conservatism. This time, there was almost a complete reversal. Fiscal issues were dominant; the rest was clearly just taken from the standard script. The biggest sign of this was when Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky called out support for the military, indicating that a strong military contributes to the country’s financial burden. It is unlikely that this claim would have been welcomed under John McCain’s “Country First” slogan in 2008. Taking all this into account, it is apparent that the Republican is moving toward the party of economic ideals, a party that aims to keep watch on the nation’s fiscal issues.
The party is also beginning to become a youthful party. This may sound odd, considering the fact that this is the party that supports policies that are not always beneficial to America’s youth. But when looking at the Republican roster in congress, there are younger members than the Democrats. In some ways, this is just timing for some, but the bigger picture is in regards to the fact that fiscal issues appeal much more to this generation than the previous one. Young people who wish to enter into politics also have some desire to gain financial perks along with their service, which Republicans highlight more than Democrats.
So in the end, one question is: Will these changes be beneficial to the party? Not immediately, but it is progress. There is one thing that this tells voters, it is that the party is not as out of touch as it seems to have been the last 20 years. Sticking to the situation of the economy rather than social issues demonstrates clear understanding of the tasks at hand. If it doesn’t work for 2012, 2016 could certainly be a good year.