What next for the Republican Party … entering the fray
After last week’s election loss, with not only the Presidency returned to Barack Obama, but the Senate Democrats increasing their majority, the rash of Party soul-searchings and the blame game has begun. Blame Limbaugh, blame Romney, blame Rove, blame the SuperPacs, blame the voters who didn’t turn out, blame the Tea Party, blame the conservatives, and so it goes. The party of Reagan, who thought they had this election in the bag towards the end, got a major reality check from the voters.
Before the Republicans up-end themselves, they’d be wise to exhale and take a deep breath. Almost fifty-nine million people voted for Mitt Romney, and the House has maintained its Republican majority. Those figures send as much of a message as what the media is continually harping on, namely, the Republican loss of the Black vote, the Hispanic vote, and the female vote.
Let’s be clear here, Obama won because of a) a better get out the vote ground game; b) class and economic warfare rhetoric; and c) the successful demonization of Romney. Romney lost because a) he allowed his opposition to define him early on, without responding; b) he didn’t have a ground game; and c) he didn’t articulate his message or principles with enough conviction where a clear distinction could be made between himself and the President. You only have to revisit the third Presidential debate as evidence of letter “c”.
With the election over, we’re now reading and hearing about how the Republicans need to turn to the center, conduct outreach programs to the Hispanic community through immigration reform, how to woo back the women’s vote with less concentration on abortion and other social issues that might offend. These are not the Republicans’ problems from my high level, 30,000 foot viewpoint.
Ronald Reagan, in both the 1980 and 1984 elections, stood for something. He believed in and loved America. You could hear it in his voice; you could see it in his eyes. Reagan believed in the same principles that Mitt Romney espoused in 2012: free markets, limited government, less regulation, self-determination. But, unlike Mitt Romney, voters “liked” Ronald Reagan. He was what today’s lingo would call “authentic.” Voting for Romney wasn’t so much for him as it was against Obama and his policies.
There is no doubt in my mind that some parts of American society have changed, and not for its betterment. We’re stuck with a larger segment of society who will be forever termed the “knucklehead vote.” For the rest of us, I don’t for a moment believe that the Party should begin to cave Boehner-style, compromising and forsaking its principles and philosophy. That’s how this mess was created. Remember, 3 million potential Romney voters stayed home.
As an example, the current cause celebre at the moment to try and win over the Hispanic vote, is amnesty for illegals in this country, and what to do for those still coming in. This “solution” should be bandied about so freely, as it currently is at the moment. There are too many other nationalities and groups who came here legally, who waited years for visas. We have an immigration problem, but it won’t be solved with the Democrats and Republicans both vying and pandering for votes, without considering the consequences. The Republicans didn’t take as bad a beating as the hype the media is selling and hoping we’ll believe. It wasn’t the message that was wrong in 2012, but the messenger and the packaging.
Solutions for the Republicans lie in finding spokespersons who believe in core values and principles, and can articulate them to people in language they can understand. We don’t necessarily need “Joe Cool” and multiple appearances on Letterman, yet we also don’t need more Mitt Romneys, who in the end, didn’t give people a reason to vote for something and someone. Obama could have been beaten in 2012, that’s the sad lesson. He was vulnerable, but we had a play it safe candidate who misjudged the electorate and misjudged the effectiveness of the strategies and tactics used by Obama machine.
It’s always darkest before the dawn. When one door closes, another opens. Believe in ourselves, our values, our principles, and articulate them forcefully. Obama has won the battle of 2012, but he may yet lose the war before 2016.