To the victors may go the spoils, but misinterpreting the results of an election is always a danger. For example, in 1994 Republicans gained a majority in the Congress for two principal reasons: 1) the public was fed up with excesses of the Democratic Congress such as the Post Office Scandal and 2) Republicans, led by Newt Gingrich, proposed ten popular items called the Contract With America. Sadly, after the proposals contained within the Contract were dealt with, the GOP drifted away from the ideals that helped them get elected and by 2006 their majority was gone.
Democrats face a similar problem this year. Did the public endorse a radical left agenda that would include the Fairness Doctrine, the Employee Free Choice Act, the Freedom of Choice Act, and endless investigations of George Bush? I don’t think they did and if Democrats place these items at the top of their agenda they will suffer for it.
Danger of misinterpretation is at the doorstep of the Republican party as well. Why did the GOP lose in 2008? The debate rages within the Party. Some think the main cause of recent GOP losses flows from giving Big Business free reign in Congress and the abandonment of fiscally conservative principles such as controlling government spending. Others blame the Party’s social conservatives for forcing unpopular topics such as gay marriage and abortion onto the front pages.
Aligning herself with the later group is columnist Kathleen Parker who today wrote this:
As Republicans sort out the reasons for their defeat, they likely will overlook or dismiss the gorilla in the pulpit.
Three little letters, great big problem: G-O-D.
I’m bathing in holy water as I type.
To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn’t soon cometh.
Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth – as long as we’re setting ourselves free – is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that.
The choir has become absurdly off-key, and many Republicans know it. But they need those votes!
So it has been for the Grand Old Party since the 1980s or so, as it has become increasingly beholden to an element that used to be relegated to wooden crates on street corners.
Short break as writer ties blindfold and smokes her last cigarette.
Which is to say, the GOP has surrendered its high ground to its lowest brows. In the process, the party has alienated its non-base constituents, including other people of faith (those who prefer a more private approach to worship), as well as secularists and conservative-leaning Democrats who otherwise might be tempted to cross the aisle.
Here’s the deal, ‘pubbies: Howard Dean was right.
Setting aside the sneering aspects of her column, I think she flat out wrong about why the GOP lost.
If there is one reason McCain and the GOP lost it wasn’t Sarah Palin or “G-O-D” it was the credit market collapse. Fair or unfair the Republican Party in general, and John McCain in particular, were punished by the voters for the economic problems we currently endure. Additionally, were religion or social issues really an issue pushed by McCain? I don’t think so. In fact, Barack Obama spent more time talking about his respect for religion and seeking common ground on social issues than McCain did.
Another major problem for Parker comes from this report in the Wall Street Journal:
Down the campaign homestretch, Mr. Obama’s tax-cutting promise became his clearest policy position. Eventually he stole the tax issue from the Republicans. Heading into the election, 31% of voters thought that a President Obama would cut their taxes. Only 11% expected a tax cut from a McCain administration.
The last Democratic candidate to win the tax issue was also the last Democratic president — Bill Clinton. In fact, the candidate who most credibly promises the lowest level of taxes has won every presidential election in at least the last 40 years.
Am I saying the GOP should just carry on as they have for the past few years? Absolutely not. There are many problems we must deal with from a failure to embrace social media and other technological forms of communicating with voter, to a failure to adhere to fiscally conservative principles. In short, we must get back to the Contract With America model; one of seeking to enact policies which enjoy the broad support of the American people.
However, if a majority of my fellow Republicans side with Parker’s view and seek to drive social conservatives from the GOP, the wilderness to which we been exiled will remain our home for a very long time.