It may be (to finish Sir Winston’s quote) the end of the beginning.
Despair and anger are natural reactions this week. A lot of time and energy went into something that failed. What’s more, the circular firing squad poisoned the atmosphere even before the end. A lot of comparisons are being made in the media to 1992. Those aren’t the best comparisons. 1976 is a better comparison point on any number of levels, as I have claimed here before. Just as in 76, a “hope and change” candidate beat an “incumbent” that was saddled with problems not of his making. That McCain allowed himself to be painted as the incumbent without any real objection until the final debate is one of many tactical errors he made in the campaign. One I have already said was the worst run campaign in ‘my’ living memory by either party. But shooting the wounded won’t help us any more. It’s time to move on, and get on with the business of being the loyal opposition.
How can we maintain an effective Conservative voice and reinvigorate the movement? How can we establish where Pres-elect Obama is out of step with the American people and triangulate him out of his sure-to-come excesses? How can we move forward from here instead of allowing ourselves to sink in a morass of self-doubt and loathing. Let me humbly suggest some points that I consider worthy of merit.
1) As has been repeated by many here. The “moderate Republican;” “me-too Democrat-Lite;” “Main Street Republican”; or “big government conservative” experiment is dead. Period. It was a SHAM from the beginning. It killed the base in 96. And let’s be perfectly clear on this; despite the slander on Sarah Palin from certain quarters, the base would have been DEAD this election if not for her. She saved McCain from complete ruin. He ought to say so. But he won’t, because he’s back to being Mr Bi-partisan. How clear on this should we be? Simple…in four years time, if the Republican Establishment gives us another “moderate” as their candidate, we should say adios regardless of the VP pick.
If they don’t get that moderates and “pragmatists” are losers, then it’s time they sit in their cubicle above the Dow Jones and moan about how they never win again like they did before Goldwater and Reagan saved the party. The Republican Party brand name is not what unites us. It is our ideals of the Country that unite us. If the party will not learn the lesson, the party “leaders” who took us to this place can have their empty tea party with no one to vote for them. We should not hold our nose and vote for a candidate who does not represent us ever again.
It was not Conservatism that took a bath on election night, period. Cantor won w/ well over 60% of the vote on a night that the rest of Virginia went Blue. Bachmann survived despite Cole bailing on her and her case of foot-in-mouth. You go down the list of losers for Republicans, and most, if not all, were the moderates, the pragmatists. The “bi-partisans” Elizabeth Dole and John McCain both essentially lost because their opponent was able to run to the right of them. One would think the lesson learned. But just after the concession, there is Kay Bailey Hutchinson (who I thought had sense) talking about how we cannot afford to look “obstructionist” and must work “in a bi-partisan way.”
No, we don’t have to. Honestly, the American People rebuked the two-party system on Nov 4. They want 1 party rule for at least 2 years. Fine, make the Democrats govern. If the people want what they are shilling so bad, let the Democrats try to feed it to the people. Let’s see what they say then. My bet is, they will be begging us to use the filibuster until they can rectify things in 2 yrs time.
2) It’s time to educate the American people on what conservative principles are again. And do it in a way the average person can understand. Why did Joe the Plumber resonate? Well, because although everyone likes to hear about how the rich will get soaked when you’re not rich; no one likes to hear you’re the one about to get hosed.
I humbly suggest that there be a “refresher” class on key Conservative values propagated from this site. The purpose of it being not to tell people what they don’t know, but to demystify what they DO know. And to be able to better articulate ‘why’ it is so to the average person who does not think on these things often. I considered doing this a week ago with Free Trade. But I thought it presumptive of me at the time. And before the election seemed the wrong time. But now is a good time in my estimation.
3) I heartily endorse Operation Leper, and posted such on Erick’s thread. But I suggest we need to go further. We need to not just attack those who would shoot the wounded in the Movement. We need to identify strong candidates now for leadership in the House, Senate, and party. And we need to identify strong candidates ‘now’ for 2 years hence.
4) We need to establish our own narrative about why the left has it wrong now. We let Howard Dean steal the narrative from us. And we got fed the Health Care and Union sob story to defeat. Now we need to learn the lesson, and find our voice, and those who will speak the words, and get to work changing the narrative, so that the media in 2 years (or 4) is speaking in our terms. It worked with the Contract Republicans in 94. It can work again.
Finally, again from Churchill…”Never, ever, ever give up.”