Should the Republican Party inch toward the center or stand on its conservative principles? Is this a policy problem or a public relations problem? The Californian asked those questions of the members of its Sounding Board. Here are some of their responses.

Was Mitt Romney the wrong man? Did he choose wrong with Paul Ryan? Should more have been done to court Latinos and women? The answer is much less complex; "restoration" of the Republican Party is very possible.

The Republican leadership should take a short class on what the Democrats are doing to achieve their current level of success. Start with how they almost instinctively have applied Maslow's theory of motivation to build a large and consistent base. Maslow said that man has a hierarchy of needs and until one level is satisfied, he cannot move on to another level. The first level is food, water and sleep; the second, safety, shelter and health; third is belonging, love and friendship; the fourth is self-esteem and recognition; and the last is self-actualization.

Democrats use the promise of fulfillment of the first two levels to influence the voting behavior of a large percentage of the population. Or, as I read online recently, "Doesn't matter who you put in there. Run Jesus/Moses 2016. They ain't winning. The party of the handouts has us outnumbered." Federal entitlements and class envy are powerful tools as unmet wants and needs at these first two levels will strongly influence behavior.

Republicans seem uncaring because their concerns over balancing the budget, the debt ceiling, religious freedom, etc., are all concerns for levels above those reached by many Americans, especially in poor economic times. Why do the 47 percent of Americans who don't pay taxes care if taxes are raised? They do care if their unemployment compensation is reduced or their benefits, earned or not, are threatened. Back to Maslow: They cannot move on until their basic levels are satisfied.

So I think Republicans should take off their esoteric arguments and their pearl necklaces and communicate their true strengths in terms more Americans can understand. They need to get over their fear of entitlements, because they aren't going away anytime soon, and figure out ways to do them smarter and less expensively. The goal should be helping Americans get away from entitlements through work and a better economy. There are as many as three generations living in America today who have never worked. They have become permanent wards of the state and help should be directed at ending the cycle.

Finally, I truly believe we are headed for real problems because we cannot keep satisfying the needs of a growing percentage of our population on the backs of a shrinking percentage. As our definition of what are basic needs is broadening, the ability of any government, regardless of party, to meet them will eventually take us all down.

Karen E. Wass of Arvin is a retired real estate broker.

Should the GOP change? Perhaps more empathy for the common man would help. If Republicans fired Karl Rove and Grover Norquist, perhaps that would help -- not because no new taxes isn't a fair policy; but it doesn't play in Newark.

However, I don't want them to water down their platform supporting Judeo-Christian morality just to win votes. In the long run, total support for Judeo-Christian morality instead of secular ethics will always be a winning policy, even if an election or two or three are lost. A platform that is reluctant to mention God will lead our nation to disaster even if the majority of that party's leaders are afraid to mention God's name (except in vain).

Chasing after votes by promising increased benefits and funding to special interest groups is not the way to run a country, unless our politicians are purposely running the country into economic and social ruin.

I share my liberal friend's opinion: I'm tired of voting for the best of the worst candidates. The GOP needs to run better candidates!

Jon Crawford of Bakersfield is an almost-retired petroleum engineer.

Reports of Republicans' demise are premature. I am not surprised by the conventional wisdom's postmortems following the 2012 election. They range from what the party must do to restore itself to how to bring in more Latino and black voters. Consider: Barack Obama had not been truthful on numerous occasions, his policies had not resulted in any significant improvement in the economy, and he had governed more as a potentate than as a president. Yet he received 95 percent of the black vote, 73 percent of the Latino vote, and 53 percent of the Asian vote. Is it because they rejected the Republican Party's conservative principles?

The success of California's Proposition 8 in 2010 indicates no. The Republican Party does not need to move away from its conservative principles which are simpatico with the majority of minority voters. The last thing they need to do is get in a circular firing squad. The Democrats were simply better organized this time. They also succeeded in falsely defining Mitt Romney as being an uncaring elitist out of touch with the middle class and the Republicans as a threat to their government benefits. Still, Obama only won by 708,957 votes in the nine swing states combined.

To appeal to more minority voters, the Republican Party needs to do a better job of articulating the positive aspects of its shared conservative values in an upbeat, continuous manner like Ronald Reagan did.

Angelo A. Haddad of Bakersfield is a financial consultant and insurance broker.