I would respectfully point out that what this election demonstrates is that the Reagan coalition which has more or less been able to put together a governing national majority since 1980 (but barely at any time) is becoming less and less viable. The combination of Republican party faithful, evangelicals and conservative democrats is no longer getting the job done. the reality is that coalitions are living things. They change. The environment they exist in changes. This has happened to our coalition and it is time to confront it directly and soberly. No big fantasies of millions of voters secreted away waiting to hear the right combination of words. We adapt or perish.
We are losing and it will only get worse as the Republican coalition paints itself into the corners of gay marriage, reproductive rights, and immigration. Apparently pot legalization is likely as well to be part of where we are out of touch. But that is for another day.
I am sorry but demographics is in many ways destiny. We are no longer going to put together winning coalitions nationally and eventually down ballot if we do not change with the times. That means eventually losing the excellent progress we have made in state after state, and the benefits of Republican governance in those states. Republican states are better off than democrat run states nationally. We must build on that. It was wisely said that you go to war with the army you have. We must be honest about the army we have, and how to build its strength. Our army is aging and not responsive to
The pummeling in the Senate is a wake up call on women’s issues. Gay marriage keeps the gay community- and those who have gays in their families, or friendship or work circles at the least more open to democrat bs. On reproductive issues, we can tell ourselves that we are on the right side morally, but what are we on the right side of? We are not going to stop abortion. Period. It is over. If a Republican even frames the issue in way considered insensitive to abortion, they will lose. We have the lost seats to show for it. The Catholics compromised with Obama, supporting Obama on his apparently worthless promise that there would be conscience exemptions. He reneged on his promise and no one, not even the Catholics, have been able to get anyone to care in any substantive way. I know for a fact that many sincere active Catholics had no problem voting for Obama. The illusion of the great political strength of at least the Catholics needs to be cleared away.
However, it is Immigration lost us the national election this year. Our Reagan Democrats are now much more likely to be first or second generation Hispanic, not thrid or fourth or more generation Irish or Italian . If we do not get right on this issue defeats will get much worse in the future. We will see the losses extend down ballot. If Romney had gotten even the same Hispanic votes McCain had gotten in 2008, we would still be hoarse from celebrating the tossing out of Obama. The harshness we took on immigration cost us the votes of former voters and made it easy to pigeonhole Republicans as anti-immigrant bigots. WE chased them off. As big a supporter of talk radio as I am, and I am one, we need to back down on the inflammatory fantasies about immigration and self-deporting. As self serving as Obama’s fiat dream act was from the political point of view, it was humane and apparently brilliant. There is a message in there that democrats got that we did not. We in grass roots kept the issue so inflamed that Bush’s efforts to make a grand compromise failed due to our efforts. Many people who either are Hispanic or married to Hispanic and Latino immigrants knows someone or of someone who is in fact here illegally, and knows that at least that person is not a gang banger criminal. There is a lesson in this someplace. I hope we learn it. The Hispanic demographic reality is not going to make elections easier in the future.
This election left egg on face of a lot of very experienced smart people who bet on the viability of the Reagan coalition as it has existed. Their models of voter behavior were based on what were obviously flawed assumptions and methodologies. The old numbers and models failed for a reason. Blaming the data is not going to work. In engineering when models fail in the face reality, you adjust the models and then adjust what you are building. In science (except it would seem climate science) the same. I would suggest that the old coalition has lost its edge. So if we want to win, it is time to tune it up, sharpen it, and go back to winning.
Politics is the art of the possible. If the goal is to have an ideologically pure platform and not worry about votes, then change nothing. And nothing is what we will have in the future. If the goal is to win elections and move the country towards a positive vision, then we had better figure out what is possible in current reality. And adjust accordingly. All is not lost. We have an increasingly effective ground game. It must improve a lot. But that game needs votes to work for. It is time to look at what reality is and figure out what we can do in the face of that reality. let us not indulege in what I despise Obama for doing: blaming everyone else. And please, no indulging in apocalyptic doom fantasies where the country suffers so much they come our way finally giving us our justification and sweet revenge. If the apocalypse does hit, they will blame us even more.
We need to focus on forming a national coalition that will win nationally again.