FIRST ON FOX: The Republican Party needs to embrace the Make America Great Again (MAGA) movement and fight "wokeism" if it wants to win elections again -- that’s according to a new report by a conservative group that has conducted its own autopsy of the 2020 election.
The American Principles Project (APP) is releasing the report, "MAGA after 2020: How the GOP can win again and save America," which looks at the Republican performance in last year’s election and takes lessons for how the GOP can win again in 2022 and 2024.
In a statement accompanying the release of the report, APP President Terry Schilling cites the famous 2012 "autopsy" report -- in which the Republican National Committee (RNC) called for a number of changes that were eventually rejected by the candidacy of President Trump -- and warns that some Republicans are attempting to return to that in the wake of Trump’s 2020 defeat.
"Rather than blindly following elite conventional wisdom, we believe Republicans would be much better served by carefully analyzing what actually happened in 2020 and drawing the appropriate lessons from it," Schilling says. "This is the purpose of our report, and our conclusion – derived from a close study of the election results – is this: although Trump was the victim of unprecedented hostility from our country’s most powerful, leftist-dominated institutions, his attacks on Democrats’ wokeism were incredibly effective and helped broaden the party’s base."
The report goes through a series of proposals on issues from the family to targeting Big Tech, and from pushing back against "woke" identity politics ideology to reining in the "deep state" that the APP believes are not only popular but can also gain the Republican Party electoral success.
The report comes as the Republican Party works out its path forward after a bruising cycle that saw it narrowly lose the Senate and the White House in 2020 -- with a number of voices in the party now calling for the GOP to move past Trump and embrace a change that they believe can win in the 2022 midterms and the 2024 presidential contest. Republicans like Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., have called for the party to distance itself from Trump, particularly his claims about election fraud in 2020.
"It is fundamentally dangerous, and I think it's wrong, and I think as Republicans especially, we have a responsibility to stand up and to say we believe in the Constitution, we will fight for that, we will fight for the rule of law and to build that foundation so that we can get back to voters we lost in 2020," Cheney said on "Fox News Sunday" last month. "I mean that is really a key here. We lost the House, the Senate, and the White House while Donald Trump was president."
APP is warning against a return to the pre-Trump norm from the party, warning about arguments by other conservative and Republican groups that keys to 2022 success include recruiting more diverse candidates, ramping up fundraising and hammering Democrats for embracing socialism.
"None of these are necessarily bad goals," the report argues. "However, the near exclusive focus on surface-level improvements such as recruiting more diverse candidates and increasing fundraising suggest a presumption that American politics in 2022 and beyond will continue to be a business-as-usual affair."
It connects what it sees as Trump’s importance to the party to what it sees as a key challenge and opportunity for the GOP to push back against "wokeism" -- something it says was uniquely recognized as a threat by the former president.
"The relatively passive and deferential Republican politics of previous eras are simply incapable of meeting this challenge," it says. "Donald Trump intuitively recognized this and was perhaps the first major political figure to significantly confront wokeism, which is precisely why he won in 2016 and still came within 43,000 votes of winning in 2020 despite the unprecedented hostility he faced.
"This, if nothing else, should be a sign that the GOP’s future must involve embracing and building on the Make America Great Again movement begun by Trump, not rejecting or pivoting away from it."
The APP report defines wokeism as "premised on the idea that the world is fundamentally divided between privileged and marginalized identity groups, and primarily around racial or sexual identities.
"It holds that the world can only be healed by an intense focus on the perceived power imbalance between these identity groups, and by in every instance seeking to disempower those with ‘oppressive’ characteristics (white, male, traditional sexuality, etc.) with the goal of preferential treatment for those with ‘oppressed’ characteristics (minority, female, LGBTQ, etc.)."
To fight back against wokeism and to secure election victories, APP focuses on four principles: securing elections, rebuilding the American family, fighting "woke-captured institutions" and affirming America’s fundamental goodness.
On elections, it calls for a pushback against what it describes as a "new election regime" of mass mail-in voting and vote harvesting. The institutions it names as "woke-captured" include the "legacy media," Big Tech, corporate America, academia and agencies like the DOJ and Pentagon.
On rebuilding the family, APP lines up with its prior calls to mobilize the family as a political force and warns that "the GOP cannot win without family-oriented voters."
"Moreover, since families are the most important and powerful mediating institution in society, strengthening the American family necessarily decreases the influence of other institutions the Left is currently reliant on to bolster its own power," it says.
Finally, it argues that at the heart of the MAGA message "was an appeal to the essential goodness of America."
"Republicans must firmly reject the woke project to divide and conquer America through identity politics and instead advance a vision of America as fundamentally good, appealing to the values that all Americans share in common," the report says.
Trump has himself teased a possible 2024 presidential run, although he has not committed to it. However, other potential pro-Trump candidates, like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, could be in the running.
DeSantis came out on top of a recent 2024 straw poll at the Western Conservative Summit, narrowly edging Trump, according to organizers of the conference.