First, allow me to get the unpleasantness out of the way. I was wrong. I dramatically underestimated the Democratic voter turnout in this election. I also overestimated the Romney Campaign’s ability to counteract the outright lies and manipulations put forth by the Obama Campaign. The war on women was and is a myth- but, as they say, if you tell a lie often enough…
The Obama Campaign was able to secure another term by capitalizing on a disjointed Republican Party. It’s not sour grapes, it’s the truth. The fact is that the GOP has a real problem with its continuity of messaging as it seems hell-bent on continually backing “safe” (read: more moderate) candidates that are incapable of getting elected.
As the GOP took a turn to the right with grassroots conservatism grabbing hold across the country, the mainline Republicans pushed Romney on us with the promise that he would acquiesce to our grassroots efforts and lean to the right. He signaled his willingness to do so by picking Paul Ryan as Vice President, and we all wanted to believe that we would have a moderate-turned-conservative in office. I wanted to believe it. And though I wanted a dyed-in-the-wool conservative, we were forced with yet another moderate. But, as the song says, love the one you’re with. So we backed the only play that could remove Obama from office.
Romney’s messaging was weak. Trudging through blogs all day, I was able to get to the bottom of the $5 trillion tax cut myth. I found no evidence of a war on women, either. However, that was not enough. The Romney Campaign failed to hand-deliver the viable points to the average American, and that opened the door for the Democrats who control the mainstream media to spread their talking points at will.
The conservatives, myself included, backed Romney not through a misguided belief in his conservative ideological purity, but because he was the one chosen to try and remove Obama, and all oars needed to be rowing in the same direction. This election, however, is a wake-up call to all Republicans; we need to move to the right to clearly define the differences between the parties and promote a conservative ideology.
The GOP spent so much time, money and energy trying to shore-up Romney’s conservative credentials, but they, seemingly, never stopped to wonder why they were not backing an actual conservative. Reagan won two consecutive landslides promoting the necessary ideology to get America back on track. McCain and Dole were soundly defeated because they pleased neither the middle nor the right.
So, where do we go from here?
1) We need better candidates.
The Republican Party needs to learn from the mistakes of the last two elections. America is in trouble, and it will only continue to be further endangered as we move down the path traversed by Europe before us. We need honest leadership that represents a distinct difference from the Democratic Party’s failed ideas.
2) We need to provide value to the communities we represent.
But more than candidate selection, the Republican Party needs to change how it connects to its constituency. While an obvious criticism of the Democratic Party is that it “buys” votes with Obama phones, food stamps and other associated governmental goodies, the fact is that they are providing, at the most base level, tangible value for their vote. The Republican Party should never stoop to bribing the population, but it is imperative that we demonstrate value to our communities.
Every four years, the Republicans show up in neighborhoods and promise to make things better. The Democrats, however, are in communities year-in and year-out. They offer a vulgar form of help in the form of governmental dependence, but we need to be reaching out more and more. In short: the “customer service” of the Republican Party is lacking- and our customers are going to our competitor.
People don’t need government to provide for their existence, but they do need representation. How can we expect the people to vote Republican if they feel they’re fair-weather friends? If we can encourage our leaders to pick up a phone to help a citizen resolve a problem, we can earn a vote without having to cut a check.
3) We need to steer clear of social issue pitfalls.
The Republican Party needs to steer clear of social issues as best it can. These issues serve as wedges the Democrats use to split the Party. How many women liked Romney’s fiscal sense, but rejected his manipulated image of being a crusading anti-abortion advocate? If the GOP wishes to survive, it needs to unite, not split. And, for crying out loud, they need to stop talking about rape.
We are in for a tough few years. 2014 will be a time to grab some seats in both houses. Take today, regroup, have a beer. The work begins on Monday and I, for one, am excited.