With the smoke clearing from last week’s elections, it’s important to go back through and make sense of the chaos. Yes, most of these points have been made, but I’ll also wager we as a community haven’t properly addressed what they could mean one year from now and three years from now.
There was a notable Republican victory and a notable Republican loss last week. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (please contain your shudders) won his seat, guaranteeing him a piece of political power until 2016 (we all know its coming). Ken Cuccinelli fell to Terry McAuliffe in Virgina, ceding that state’s executive power back to the Democratic party. It is not something we apparently wanted to dwell on long, as there is nowhere near the discourse among our own media as there is liberal. If you are a reader of The Week, you’ll have noticed a lack of real conservative analysis in the breakdown of the Cuccinelli loss. That is not bias on the magazine’s part, but rather a significant admission by the Left – they know just how scary that election was.
The Week, for those of you who don’t know, is a magazine that breaks down a story or issue and presents both sides – rather fairly. In the issue released late last week, almost every opinion culled for the Cuccinelli breakdown was decidedly liberal, but they were certainly not all saying the same thing. It is incredibly interesting to note that there were as many liberal voices praising the win as warning how close Cuccinelli got in the end of the race. That is enough to tell you what a danger Obamacare represents to them. The lack of conservative voices in that piece has meaning, as well. Our side knew that Virginia’s gubernatorial race was lost, but it’s not worth beating ourselves up over. We know the culprits behind it and now, more than ever, we have to fight them.
As far as the Christie victory goes, it was expected and offered nothing new for us. It was the chance the liberal media needed to nominate our 2016 candidate, a candidate Time magazine is already trying to tear down. The grassroots divide on Christie is the more interesting story for conservatives to focus on, as there is a noticeable collective of conservatives (not RINOs, I can assure you) who are not nearly as opposed to a Christie nomination as they were a Romney nomination. And, while I know it will earn me a lot of ire, I know that, push come to shove, Christie is a lot more palatable than Romney, but he has his flaws. His views on social issues, whether an admission of a liberal streak or simply a platform he used to stay in power as a Republican on the east coast, sours a lot of the conservative base.
What comes next is important, however, as it directly impacts the future of our movement in regaining power next year and three years from now. Each race offered very important lessons that the Republican party HAS to learn immediately.
The first lesson comes from the Cuccinelli campaign: Do not alienate the base. In an effort to regain support of Chamber of Commerce Republicans, the Cuccinelli campaign ignored the grassroots conservatives that offered so much support. The Republican party has apparently not noticed how big of an impact that makes yet. The second lesson we can draw from the Virginia race is just how effective campaigning against Obamacare is, and it’s simply not enough for the GOP to campaign against it – voters have to know you mean it.
See the Kentucky Senate race. Kentucky voters are aware now that Mitch McConnell doesn’t mean what he says about Obamacare, and his numbers suffer because of it. A veteran Senator/campaign brawler like McConnell should not be so vulnerable to an upstart like Matt Bevin, but he is. The voters know wool was being pulled over their eyes, and they are fighting back. This, again, is a lesson the GOP should learn fast.
The third lesson is one we can learn from Chris Christie. New Jersey voters love a candidate who is candid and frank with them. That is Christie’s political genius. You don’t get the feeling that you’re being fooled by him – you know exactly what you’re getting. In this way, the anti-gun rights and gay marriage rhetoric is admirable. He’s not talking up one platform while standing firmly on another. You may not like it, but in a way, it commands a little respect.
Christie, in this sense, is the direct opposite of Mitt Romney. Romney was a wishy-washy candidate who could not relate to the base, and it cost him. People like Christie because of his attitude. He has a spine. Romney did not. His campaign neutered all rhetoric and it hurt them badly. Hopefully, this lesson, along with the others, is something SOMEONE in our party will notice. Of course, it won’t be noticed by the ones who really need to see it.