How can the Republican Party regain relevancy in a demographically evolving America - and what do GOP leaders need to do in order to regain the White House in the wake of two consecutive lopsided losses? Those questions were the genesis for the Republican National Committee's Growth and Opportunity Project.
The centerpiece of the project is an exhaustive 97-page report released Monday. The report outlines voters' concerns with the Republican Party according to thousands of online surveys and hundreds of conference calls, listening sessions and one-on-one meetings with Republicans, former Republicans, and female, black, Asian and Hispanic voters.
What the report found is what anyone who watched the election returns last November already knows: The Republican party fails at engaging young, female and minority voters and is unsuccessful at explaining how GOP policies can improve the lives of Americans.
In page after page, the report theorizes that if the Party was just better at messaging, raised more money, improved its social media outreach and reworked its campaign mechanics, the GOP's record low public perception will suddenly be cured.
But that's wrong. And short-sighted.
Quick fixes and attempts to modernize the party are largely why Republicans have lost the popular vote in five of the last six presidential elections - and much of the reason that the party's national prospects are growing bleaker by the day.
If anything, the report's suggestions to pander to particular demographics and minority groups will make the problem worse. That's because catering to a few ensures that the Republican Party further distances itself from the one thing that makes it appealing to the masses: The willingness to defend the belief that people make better decisions than government.
Throughout the history of the party, that one timeless principle has made the GOP more appealing to far more people than the Democratic Party could ever be.
The Democratic Party is largely a hodgepodge of self-interested and unrelated special interest that congregate under the Democratic Party banner because they want something from government and believe Democratic lawmakers will get it for them.
The Republican Party, when managed by competent leaders and embodied by principled elected officials, is different.
When the Republican Party is on the right track, the party is guided by principles of self-governance, individual liberty and limited, responsible government - ideas that unite and inspire Americans. The GOP has failed when it has strayed from those central tenets, taken a page out of the Democratic handbook and tried to use government as a device to redistribute wealth, manipulate free markets, strip liberties and favor the well-connected, as it is doing now.
The Republican Party does not need to modernize to reach female, gay, Latino, black, Asian and female voters. It needs to regress.
Rather than focusing on improved Tweeting tactics, identifying the most effective online fundraising tools or producing better TV ads, the party needs to get back to its roots.
If the GOP truly cares about appealing to more Americans, and ultimately, winning elections, Republican leaders should toss the Growth and Opportunity Project in the nearest trash can. That's because the only thing that will draw more Americans to the Republican Party is a renewed focus on America's founding principles of individual liberty and limited, constitutional government.