We are three days removed from a brutal election for the GOP. A lot has been said.
I have decided it is virtually all bull crap.
Whenever the GOP loses — actually going back to some time around 1972 and the re-election of Richard Nixon — Democrats have told the GOP they are going to lose the demographic battle. Demography is only destiny when you party is obsessed with race as the Democrats are.
Let me explain my thinking with a story from the Old Testament people tend to ignore and work my way up to Dick Cheney. Seriously.
In the Old Testament, Moses had an apprentice named Joshua. Chosen by God to be Moses’s right hand, Joshua took over from Moses. When Joshua died, the wheels came off. Don’t believe me? Flip your Bible to Judges 2:7. Joshua died and all the elders who had surrounded Joshua died. Within five verses we are to “And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals.”
Five verses later!!
No, Baal has nothing to do with Dick Cheney. Succession does.
Moses had a succession plan. Joshua really did not. It didn’t take long for the wheels to come off the wagon.
In 2008, George W. Bush had no successor. Dick Cheney did not run. When administrations have successors, they plan out the succession and the power and the transfer of power and the coalition. Bush had no need to do that. What happened? Old wounds opened up and the GOP had to go back to 2000 and refight old fights to settle on the guy George W. Bush beat. A good bit of the coalition balked. Mitt Romney sprung from that and had the same problems. He was weak and had a hard time solidifying the coalition.
The coalition that turned out Election night 2012 to re-elect Barack Obama is Barack Obama’s coalition. It is not Joe Biden’s coalition. It is not the Democrats’ coalition. It turned out to elect Barack Obama in 2008. It did not, despite his pleas, turn out in 2010. It will not turn out in 2014. In 2016, Joe Biden, despite his claims now, is going to be 74 and too old to make a good attempt at the Presidency. If, for some reason, he leaves office sooner than that, the Democrats are going to tear each other apart to fill the seat or the President will pick a care taker.
Either way, the odds are the Obama coalition is subject to fracture in 2016.
This does not mean it is the Republicans’ coalition, but it does give the GOP a chance. The GOP also has a chance in 2014 to again replace its own side with fresh faces in primaries.
Since Election night, the usual voices who always tell the GOP to abandon conservatism are again telling the GOP to abandon conservatism. Never mind that exit polling shows the nation still thinks the government does too much. The public, however, just did not gel with Mitt Romney who did a bad job connecting with voters.
That leads me to three key points.
First, Mitt Romney was a deeply flawed candidate. Your next must read should be this by Charles Krauthammer.
Romney ran a solid campaign, but he is by nature a Northeastern moderate. He sincerely adopted the new conservatism but still spoke it as a second language.
He is being far too charitable to Mitt Romney’s campaign (see e.g. Project ORCA), but Romney was a flawed messenger with his campaign even refusing to allow Paul Ryan into inner-cities to defend policies. The campaign also refused to defend and push back on the “war on women” narrative allowing people, post-election, to claim the GOP really did get hurt on social issues. Well yeah, you do tend to get hurt when you keep getting punched in the face and smile back. The GOP must rebuild its narrative with a candidate who is capable of telling a story that does not involve squatting on potties in France.
Second, the biggest problem the Republicans had on Tuesday night was not demographics, but turnout operations. Karl Rove learned all he could from Lee Atwater and seemingly learned nothing else. We’ve been using the Lee Atwater playbook since the 1990’s. It got us, by the skin of our teeth, through 2004, and that was it. We’re using a 20th century tactical playbook in the 21st century against a Democratic Party that innovated and updated and knows our tactics as well as we do. Rove & Co. spent a whole hell of a lot of money on advertising in an already saturated media market. Meanwhile, the Romney Campaign’s Project ORCA collapsed. They might as well have called it Shamu because it bit the leg of the campaign and wouldn’t let go. If you haven’t read this post at Ace of Spades HQ, consider it your second must read of the day.
The GOP must bring its tech and tactics up to 21st century standards.
Third, the GOP long term does have a demographic problem, but so do the Democrats. As much as the GOP needs to improve with hispanic voters, the Democrats have a white voter problem. The GOP more likely than not has another few election cycles before the demographics with hispanics become insurmountable and, in the meantime, can find ways to reach out to them and talk to them that do not include amnesty.
Frankly, as I noted yesterday, if you are going out to speak to the unconverted, you don’t talk about the trinity, communion, and what not. You speak in language the unconverted understand. Immigrants to this country know they are here for freedom and opportunity they did not have in their native land. But they may not really understand what “free markets” mean.
As the sun comes up this morning, the GOP stands ready to capitulate on every issue under the sun, blaming conservatives along the way. Already, John Boehner says the GOP will do nothing more on Obamacare, then did the customary walk back after the blow back. Trust his initial statement — he intends to do nothing on a law that remains opposed by a majority — not a plurality, but a majority — of Americans. Republicans in Washington have sore rear ends because they got their butts kicked Tuesday night standing behind the consultants they’ve always used and the candidate they deemed “most electable” against the guy anybody could beat without a credible message.
So what should Republicans do? Fight on. Don’t listen to those who say we must moderate, we must abandon values, we must abandon principles, etc. They are wrong. We must reach out, but that does not mean surrender.
For those of you who think we’ve lost the country, well then you have nothing left to lose. If I’m right and Obama’s base won’t turn out in 2014 like it did not turn out in 2010, you might as well swing for the fences because you’ll either get all or nothing. Right now all you’ve got is nothing.
So fight on, my friends, fight on. When the Democrats mock us for not changing, remind them we did the same to them after 2004 and then 2006 showed up. And let’s start finding candidates now and prepare them to primary those Republicans who go wobbly. Heck, those groups who keep score cards should score the GOP leadership votes and score against anybody who supports McConnell or Boehner, just to drive the point home we aim to fight — even them.