It was a Tuesday night on November 3, 1964. In a humiliating defeat of Republican Barry Goldwater, Lyndon Johnson won the presidential election in an historic landslide. After all the votes were counted and the dust settled, Johnson took away 44 states and Goldwater carried a paltry number of 6.
A few months prior in San Francisco, the Republican convention was one of the most vicious in the party’s history. The “moderate” Nelson Rockefeller sought to stop Goldwater’s inevitable road to nomination victory. Rockefeller was maliciously booed off stage by fellow Republicans who pledged allegiance to Goldwater. After only one ballot vote Barry Goldwater was officially nominated as the GOP candidate. Why was this so? And why does this event in history matter now?
The Republican delegates at that time only cared for one element in their GOP nominee – ideological purity. They had no other considerations on how their nominee would fare against the current president. They didn’t anticipate Johnson’s innovative campaign strategy of ruthless TV attack ads. What was the consequence of only considering one factor in our GOP nominee? – The Great Society. Lyndon Johnson’s victory over the GOP candidate gave us the unfunded welfare liabilities we struggle with today. It is quite puzzling how some conservatives today celebrate Goldwater’s nomination as a victory for the conservative movement. Was the expansion of our welfare state a conservative achievement? It surely was a consequence of his nomination.
Let’s fast forward to our upcoming presidential election in 2016. It is looking to be that the Republicans will have an unprecedented amount of top GOP candidates to pick from. From “hawks” such as [mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ] to “doves” like [mc_name name=’Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’P000603′ ]. We can choose a Northerner in Chris Christie or look to our Southern bloc in Rick Perry. Let’s not forget the unending war between the “establishment” and “grassroots” in Jeb Bush vs. [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ]. But enough with labels already.
Never again will we let the liberal media trick us into a war with each other by using labels and corny catchphrases to divide us. We, as Republicans, must take a mature look (on our own) at our pool of candidates and strongly consider who has the best ability to win. This is NOT a promotion of the most “moderate” candidate. Not at all. This is a wakeup call to the uphill electoral map we face after two resounding national election losses. We MUST include electability as a factor in picking our 2016 nominee. If Clinton is the Democratic nominee (which seems extremely likely) she will hit the ground running with established donor contacts and a campaign war chest. Who can best fight this?
The perfect recipe for electability is not just found in the conservative vs. moderate spectrum. It also entails a candidate’s discipline on the campaign trail. Can he/she stay on message? How successful will they be at fundraising? Can they avoid a Todd Akin moment? We have perfect examples of recent statewide elections on how GOP candidates’ discipline proved fruitful on Election Day.
In a state that had been trending blue in recent years, [mc_name name=’Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’G000562′ ] prevailed in Colorado against a popular incumbent Senator by staying rigidly disciplined and on message. When his previous stance on birth control seemed problematic, he triangulated and stuck to more concerning subjects. This left [mc_name name=’Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’U000038′ ] desperately fixated on women’s issues and thus giving him the infamous name “Mark Uterus”. Gardner knew how to fight.
Even in an election loss we can find examples of a great campaign resulting in exceptional turnout. No one had Ed Gillespie’s senate bid on their radar. However, his innovative use of online targeting and concrete details of his version of an Obamacare replacement led to ALMOST one of the biggest election upsets in modern history.
The blueprint for victory is right in front of our eyes. We just need to follow the right candidate.
Much like the 1964 Republican loss that gave us the legacy of Johnson’s Great Society, we now face an election that will decide Obama’s “transformational” legacy. We need a Republican to undo the damage Barack Obama has done to us. We need a candidate who can win and put us back on the right path to prosperity. Do you want a President who will end Obamacare and reverse our current policy of appeasement at every corner? As far as I can see, the current top Republicans will do these things and more. Now which one of these can win?
Barry Goldwater did not lose because he was a “conservative”. He lost because he was unable to stop Johnson from defining him. The “moderate” Mitt Romney faced the same fate when he was successfully labeled by Obama. You better believe Clinton’s war machine will work overtime to dress our candidate into the devil they want him to be in the eyes of the voters. We need a candidate who can fight back.
We must make electability a factor in choosing our GOP nominee.