"Party elders are still executing a southern strategy," he said. "They predominantly looked at the party through a southern lens where we have a great base and a great deal of strength, but the country has changed."
Moving forward, Republicans need to reassess their strategy and find a way to become more inclusive, Steele saidÖ.
"Get out of your comfort zone and go into communities where people who don't look and sound like you live and ... talk to them about empowerment and ownership and the very core principles of our party," he said.
That kind of inclusive strategy was used during the 2010 midterm elections and proved to be effective in helping Republicans regain control on the House, Steele said. But changing the party's approach could take some time. Steele likens it to the 12-step program, which requires a commitment to prolonged change. In other words, it is a lifestyle change and not a quick fix.
"Those voices in the party that are serious about this have to step forward, otherwise guess what? In five or six years, we're irrelevant," he said.