Sunday, May 3, 2009

Trying Better Next Time

Republican leaders Gov. Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney are headlining a national listening tour to try to win back people who dumped the GOP last year. Says Gov. Bush in the Washington Times:
"You can't beat something with nothing, and the other side has something. I don't like it, but they have it, and we have to be respectful and mindful of that," Mr. Bush said.
The problem isn't that the GOP has nothing. It's that the something isn't what people want. And when the GOP does have something, we don't know why we should vote for it.

Sen. John McCain lost the presidential race because he wasted time talking about some icky old hippie and some nutcase preacher linked to then-Sen. Barack Obama when people wanted to know how Sen. McCain was going to fix the economy. Worse, he buttressed his campaign with a GOP talking-points machine known as Gov. Sarah Palin. She was good for PR but little else.

So now Gov. Bush, Romney and others want to know what they need to do better. I'll offer a few suggestions from Moderate America, since that's whom they're after:

  • Lose the weight. We know you want a big tent. But you wouldn't allow a skunk in your big tent, would you? It's time to toss your fringe elements, whether they're card-carrying Republicans or not. That means openly and clearly denouncing a few right-wing blowhard talk show hosts (you know who), one particular right-wing author and columnist (you know which), and unfortunately, a few of your own high-profile party members who are ballast on your balloon. Don't campaign for them, and don't fund their runs.

    I know it's painful. I know they energize your base. But look at it this way: even if you do tick off a lot of people in your base, who else will they vote for? They're not going to throw their votes away on a third-party candidate. They certainly won't vote Democrat. You can't be like the Democrats and fear a GOP Ralph Nader. Grow your party and drop your boat anchors. What you pick up will offset what you lose.

  • Give people something to vote for. Remember how you took back the House and Senate in 1992? True, some of that was due to the disastrous miscalculations of the Clinton Administration on health care, but Newt Gingrich and company also gave people the "Contract With America." You don't have to promise you'll pass some legislation, but you do need to show people you're facing the issues.

  • Acknowlege you messed up. Take some lumps. Tell your voters, "We blew it. We didn't win the way we needed to in Iraq. We didn't know how bad you were hurting in this economy. We cared too much about the people who were feeding us campaign contributions. We deserved to lose last year, and we want to make it up to you. We promise we'll look at new ideas. Some things aren't negotiable, mind you, but if something works to benefit this nation, we're on board, even if it comes from somebody outside the party."
Gov. Bush seems to be making that last statement. One out of three is a good start. Two out of three ain't bad. Let's see if this new Republican movement can reach the trifecta.


Peter Schmugge said...

I actually respectfully disagree... the last election showed us what was happening to the GOP. It's steady move to the center had disenfranchised the base so much over the last 16 years that the GOP was literally about to completely fall apart until Sarah Palin was added to the ticket. She was the GOP's nod to the conservative right, and did bring in a few 'Independent Conservatives' who voted for the 'lesser of two evils'. However, many more chose not to vote at all, or chose a third party candidate instead.

What the GOP needs to do is ditch the RINO's, lose the Bush globalists and re-acknowledge the the principles of social and fiscal conservatism. There are many 'IC's just waiting and hoping the GOP returns back to it's roots. It's time for a revival, someone needs to lead. If the GOP choose's not to, then maybe it's time to lose the GOP...

Christopher said...

Thanks for weighing in!

I respectfully disagree that the GOP was moving to the center -- at least in perception. President Bush was a huge part of that perception, given his neoconservatism and those he aligned himself with. If anything, I believe the Bush GOP moved to the right on a different tangent than the traditional GOP.

I strongly believe the GOP needs to ditch Bush neoconservatism that tarnished its image. I think money management is the best place to start, and it's a strategy that works given how much support Republicans got during the stimulus debate for resisting excess spending and trying to keep the deficit under something resembling control. But when it comes to social issues, they get creamed, and they're going to have to learn to frame arguments better on things like traditional marriage where they haven't shown people WHY they should vote for traditional marriage amendments or WHY voting for such amendments doesn't automatically make you a "hater."

The big question now -- who really leads the GOP? They don't have one.