FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
GOP Autopsy: Change the Politicians Not the Policies
Amidst the soul-searching being conducted by party leaders in pursuit of the solution to the GOP’s electoral problems, everyone is missing the obvious culprit. Whenever a private entity goes through a period of lethargic growth and management failures, it seeks new leadership. Yet, immediately following the election, Republicans reelected Mitch McConnell and John Boehner to be the face of the GOP in Washington. Talk about stuck on stupid.
In their “autopsy” report, the RNC notes the following: “The GOP today is a tale of two parties. One of them, the gubernatorial wing, is growing and successful. The other, the federal wing, is increasingly marginalizing itself, and unless changes are made, it will be increasingly difficult for Republicans to win another presidential election in the near future.”
Hmmm…maybe that has something to do with the fact that there are some new dynamic leaders on the state level. Where are they on the federal level? Nobody can look you in the eye – even supporters of Boehner and McConnell – and declare with a straight face that these two leaders are eloquent voices for our party’s principles and have a dynamic appeal to a broad populace. Likewise, even those who don’t necessarily share the principles of the Tea Party can easily agree that figures like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio evince a stronger, more persuasive image to voters than the current group of banal bulls.
Yesterday, The Hill published a poll asking respondents which method they preferred in order to balance the budget: slashing spending with no tax increases or a mix of both. A clear majority supported the conservative position. But when the pollster designated the two positions with party identifications, a plurality supported the Democrat approach, even though it was the same path that was soundly rejected without the party label. This is a very vivid example of the need to give the Republican politicians a facelift, not the policies.
In fact, it is the lack of passion and consistency to fight for these policies when it really counts that has gotten us into trouble. Republicans won the 2010 elections in a landslide, primarily with the mandate to get rid of Obamacare. There was no ambiguity about the results of that election. It had nothing to do with ground game, technology, immigration, gay marriage, minorities, etc. It was purely based on ideology of limited government, most notably, disquiet against Obamacare. The Democrats got crushed. Republicans should have taken the first opportunity to defund Obamacare in the CR or debt ceiling when the righteous indignation was still palpable. They failed to do it, opting instead to cut a backroom deal. They failed to inspire anyone. The voters saw through the fakery.
How much longer are the Republicans going to allow John Boehner to be the inarticulate public face of the GOP and Mitch McConnell the private dealmaker with Democrats? Isn’t it time for new leadership? Yet, McConnell wouldn’t even allow one of those fresh faces, Senator Ron Johnson, to serve in the number 5 position in leadership, opting to recruit Roy Blunt to run against him last year.
Instead of retiring with dignity, McConnell is engaging in an election-year foxhole conversion – during the spare time he is not busy feeding opposition research talking points about a potential primary challenger to reporters. Why not step aside and try to recruit another young leader instead of risking another $21 million close-call reelection bid in a state where Obama lost 117 of 120 counties? Seriously, when our conference leader has mediocre ratings in his own red state, isn’t it time for someone new as GOP Leader?
In addition, we have a whole list of red state statists who will stand for reelection over the next few years – members who are increasingly voting with the Democrats: Lamar Alexander, Thad Cochran, Lindsey Graham, etc.. Why do we keep running candidates who ultimately support Democrat policies, albeit with a sour face? What exactly are these people doing in the Senate aside for warming the benches and scoring points for the other team?
At the core of conservative values is a belief in the effectiveness of choice and competition in perfecting outcomes. Yet our party has been run like a country club devoid of any real competition for important leadership and committee positions. You don’t need an autopsy to figure out that the majority of voters see no virtue in Republican leaders, and that we are in desperate need of fresh faces on the federal level. How many of the committee chairmen in both the House and the Senate (ranking members) are inspiring and forceful advocates for conservative policies in their spheres of influence?
Instead of ticking off a litany of policy positions we must abrogate – from social issues and immigration enforcement to tax cuts and welfare cuts, Republicans would be wise to comb through their roster of federally elected officials, particularly those in leadership, and kindly ask them to retire, opening up those seats to a fresh generation of bold and sincere conservatives.