Thursday, November 29, 2012

Republican Resurrection

In the three weeks that have passed since Barack Obama won reelection, it has been interesting to hear the multitude of reasons and opinions as to why the Republicans were unable to unseat the disastrous forty –fourth President of the United States.  Many blame Mitt Romney for running a poor campaign, not presenting a detailed enough plan, or not appealing to a broad enough cross-section of the American electorate.  Others put forth the argument that the Republican message of limited government and self-earned prosperity no longer resonates with a voting public that has begun to embrace an entitlement culture.  There is a measure of truth in each of these arguments, but the biggest obstacle for the Republican Party to overcome, is the party itself.

The GOP is already at a disadvantage due to being the party of reality.  They have the audacity to bring up the taboo subjects of reforming our broken entitlement system, securing our southern border, and tackling our lingering economic doldrums by cutting federal spending.  These are areas that continue to be ignored by the current administration in order to stoke the fires of discontent by pandering to envy with worthless class warfare, crying wolf over access to abortions and contraception, and fostering a general sense of victimization.  Actually dealing with these issues and the inevitable pain that would accompany any serious solution is much less appealing than the fairytale peddled by the Democrats that these things will simply take care of themselves.  Eventually we will have to face reality, but most are content to delay the inevitable for as long as possible.

The Democrats are a loyal bunch.  The behavior or qualifications of their candidates and sitting representatives have no impact on their patronage.  The Republicans are a principled bunch, so much so that it has led to ever increasing fractures in the conservative coalition.  The Tea Party movement, libertarian candidates, and the decrease in Republican voting participation in the 2012 Presidential Election are all evidence of a party unwilling to compromise or fully support someone that does not align closely enough to strict ideological requirements.  We will never have a viable third party, as this would require a relatively equitable defection from the two primary parties.  This will not happen as the Democrats seem quite happy to stay put.  What is possible is the demise of the Republican Party as its members are quite willing to break into factions in the name of purity of political philosophy.  Without unity, you have a party shooting itself in the foot. 

With a socialist president occupying the White House, you would figure there would have been a great conservative ground swell doing all it could to improve their nominee’s chances in the general election, but it did not materialize.  Instead the Republican primaries were an exercise in futility, pushing their candidates ever further to the right and providing sound bite after sound bite of destructive material the Democrats were all too happy to use during the presidential campaign.  This cry for an ultra-conservative candidate did nothing other than making the Republican hopefuls increasingly unappealing to the moderate general electorate, further reducing the chances of the eventual nominee claiming victory.  What did Mitt Romney’s migration further to the right earn him?  Nothing.  The collective pouting by Republican voters that refused to back him for not being the ultra-conservative they craved manifested itself in a lower turn out for Governor Romney than what had turned out four years earlier for Senator McCain.  Ironically, Romney was viewed as being the more conservative alternative to McCain in 2008.  By staying home, those that most oppose Obama’s far leftist ideology ensured it another four years as the nation’s guiding philosophy.  Counterproductive is the understatement of the year.

As I have stated previously, President Obama’s campaign was based on, and his reelection was the product of, the American electorate’s general ignorance.  The Democrats made their stand with simpleton tenants meant to evoke baseless anger and a sense of victimization.  Punishing the rich, being the defenders of cheap or free contraception, and warning that a Republican president would result in a heartless corporate America became the talking points relentless recited.  Fabricating a war on women, painting the Republicans as racist for wanting to address illegal immigration with something other than amnesty, and continuing to engrain the notion that government exists to provide for all citizens were all calculated moves to reinforce the GOP’s unwarranted reputation as old fashioned, out of touch elitists.  Meanwhile, Republicans continued to prescribe to an outdated and naive belief that the American people were just too competent to fall for this barrage of propaganda and lies.  In the battle between substance and trivialness, trivialness won.

Cheesy slogans like Romnesia and corny bumper stickers reading GM is Alive and Osama Bin Laden is Dead struck a chord with an American public that tunes out once something exceeds the confines of a one-liner.  Added to this was the melodramatic buffoonery of Joe Biden which for reasons I still do not understand resonated with many voters.  In the end, all of these things were well executed strategies by a political campaign that knew its audience very well and successfully seized on the fact that it lacked the attention span necessary to see these things for what they really were, mere distractions necessary to divert attention from the administration’s record of epic failure.  The Republicans meanwhile defiantly maintained their enduring belief that the American voter is ultimately a responsible citizen; this was their Achilles heel and ensured their eventual failure in the election.  Their unwavering faith blinded them, even when polling showed it was not warranted; they continued to give American voters far too much credit for being logical, rational, and educated.  Ironically, the party that believed and took advantage of the ignorance of the electorate was rewarded with reelection, while the party that foolishly clung to a conviction in the soundness of the American citizen continues to be pigeonholed as ruthless aristocrats hell-bent on benefiting only the well-to-do.

America has changed; the 2012 election was decisive evidence of that.  In order to be successful, the Republican Party needs to adjust or it faces increasingly difficult times.  I don’t believe they should adopt the Democrats’ strategy of deception and divisiveness, but a more realistic view of the electorate is a must.  They can no longer rely on voters being competent; it is blatantly obvious those days are past.   Combating their media hyped reputation as a bunch of  condescending uber-wealthy plutocrats must be countered with consistent, real world positive results or the future will be filled with their candidates being dismissed as nothing more than an out of touch elitist robber barons.  The GOP must also have a great coming together, an understanding that ideological purity is a poor substitute for contributing to the election of your political polar opposite.   This is now a country where perception is more important than reality as the people are unwilling to look beyond the carefully crafted surface.  Substance takes too much effort when the American voter is involved.  The GOP needs to keep its messages simple, enlist dynamic and charismatic candidates, rebuild party loyalty, and resist giving the people the benefit of doubt.  Learn from the mistakes of the past and remember the unfortunate status of the current American political climate - your odds are always better when you bet on stupid.

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