After a walk through the muck, weeds and promise of these 50 states, some overall final observations are in store for 2020 and beyond. In some cases, the GOP has to get their act together if they hope to be a viable party within their respective states. Among those observations are:
1.The GOP HAS Changed: With the rise of Donald Trump as the head of the Republican Party, there is no denying the party has changed. This proves that the old guard was nothing more than grifters with velvet tongues when it came to conservatism who were afraid of a real fight. That is what the pundit class most fears from Trump- upsetting the lucrative apple cart.
2.Many “Problems” Preceded Trump: Realizing their power is waning, this expert class blames Trump for every miscue, setback, and defeat at the state and local level. But as this series has attempted to show, many of the problems at the state level began way before Trump. The seeds of their current impotency were planted years ago.
3.Demographics Are Important, But Not Political Destiny: The efforts at minority outreach when it comes to Hispanics and young voters in Texas should be a roadmap for the GOP nationally and in other states. A consistent, cohesive, conservative message that resonates across racial or ethnic lines can undo all the doom and gloom about the impending GOP apocalypse with minority voters.
4.Old Guard Republicans Are Scared Rabbits: Trump has proven that a confrontational and combative style of leadership can win votes. In Maine, Paul LePage in 2010 laid the groundwork for this strategy before Trump. He did not shy away from “controversy” and was combative, yet he won two elections- before Trump even announced his candidacy.
5.Who Cares About Rhetoric?: Some have described and decried this as a “coarsening” of political rhetoric and fanning the flames of partisan rancor. Up against a Leftist opponent who shows no inclination to soften rhetoric or extinguish the flames of partisan rancor, perhaps finally many are realizing that the only way to win is to fight fire with fire.
6.Over-Reliance on the Consultants: In several states, the GOP was led down the road to defeat or near defeat by reliance on political consultants. Perhaps that is because they are basing their strategies on the political realities of yesteryear rather than accurately reading the new tea leaves. Trump, or someone in his campaign, has that uncanny ability.
7.Don’t Forget Old-Fashioned Campaigning: Think of the most popular Republican not named Donald Trump then ask yourself if they could fill a 30,000 seat arena with a rally. Trump can do that because he is a unique breath of fresh air. This- and Twitter- are Trump’s ways of taking his message directly to the people. It is a deft use of old style, raucous political rally coupled with social media. Good old-fashioned lawn signs and, more importantly, knocks on doors pay greater dividends. In quite a few cases in 2018, we saw way too many politicians also relying simply on incumbency.
8.Miscalculating Vulnerability: In some cases, we saw electoral losses when candidates were pleading for help from the state party apparatus. Instead, they were ignored. A Cook PVI rating is all well-and-good, but it also is based on history and fails to account for demographic and cultural shifts within a Congressional district. As was stated in the article (part 2) of Texas, there are two ways to ensure victory: run unopposed, or run scared. If the GOP hopes to be a viable voice going forward, every candidate must treat their campaign like it will be their last.
9.Fossil Leadership: Political “experience” is one thing. Sticking with failed leadership is another thing. Touting the virtues of “stability” in some cases has resulted in party leaders leading the GOP to obscurity and abject defeat in some states.
10.Running From a Fight: Look at where Trump has held rallies: Cleveland, Minneapolis, Rio Rancho, NM, El Paso, Milwaukee, Dallas. These are hardly conservative areas. In too many races, the GOP has thrown in the towel and not even run a candidate. Yes…it is expensive in some areas, but knocks on doors are cheap.
11.Proper Role of a State Party: In some cases, the state party plays favorites with down-ballot candidates. The proper role- and this involves the use of state party money resources- should be to allow the primary voters to decide on a candidate, then for the state party to invest their resources in the winners. Given losing records in some cases, is it any wonder people vote for the opposite of who the state party prefers?
12.Rancor and Foot-Shooting: Democrats, aided by the media, cover their dirty laundry a little better. Whether a party leader is caught masturbating outside their estranged wife’s home, or sending pictures of his erect body parts to candidates in two highlighted instances in this series, a lot of “rancor” and “controversy” is self-created. “Leaders” have to stop shooting themselves in their own feet.
13.Moderation Is Not a Principle Worth Saving: In many states we have seen the state GOP endorsing so-called moderate Republicans only to see those candidates go down to humiliating defeat. Many times these “moderates” act and talk like a Democrat (Knute Buhler in Oregon and others). What has that accomplished in these states? We have seen “moderation” in action in states like Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and California. If the Republican Party is to be the last best hope for conservatism, then the party better adopt, stick to, and encourage conservative solutions and policies and stop acting like a scared opossum in headlights when the Left inevitably attacks.
The Party has a template for doing just that and his name is Donald Trump.