The post-mortem on the 2008 elections has been fast and furious, revolving largely around what the future holds for the GOP. The Republicans, it seems, are doomed to spend some time in the wilderness. I, for one, think that this is a good thing. Bill Kristol assesses the situation from the perspective of the Republican Governor’s Association meeting:
One pillar of any Republican comeback will surely be successful practical governance at the state level. The Republican revival of the early and mid-1990s–after the across-the-board defeat of 1992, when the first Bush administration was booted out with 38 percent of the vote–was due in part to the examples of effective state governance by Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin and John Engler in Michigan, to say nothing of Rudy Giuliani’s efforts in New York City. Then a governor, George W. Bush, retook the White House in 2000.
And, after the previous Democratic takeover of the White House, in 1976, it was a former governor, Ronald Reagan, who led the comeback and took the presidency. So history suggests that statehouses are where a lot of the GOP action will be over the next four years.
Kristol, as they say, hit the nail on the head. The 2008 defeats open the door for a new generation of conservative Republican governance, and this must occur at the state level first and foremost. Governors and state legislators must stand on principle and find innovative, free-market solutions to problems, setting an example for their counterparts on the national level to follow. This will not only breed an entirely new caliber of candidate for national politics, but will also begin to move policy discussions in a more conservative direction.
Other than massive electoral defeat, what event could have possibly stopped the GOP from careening off of the cliff of Socialism. As long as Republicans were winning elections acting as Democrats-lite, they would continue on that same path. Losing now opens the door for true conservative governance and a rejection of tactic of adopting the Democrat’s policies in a lesser fashion in order to appease some chunk of the electorate.
Were Republicans rejected because they were too conservative? No, the rejection of Republicans at the polls was because they could not be trusted anymore. It’s time for the next generation of Republican leadership to restore the people’s trust that we really are the party of fiscal restraint and small government solutions. Have it, Governors.