Skip to comments.GOP Solution: Stick to Values, Pick Better Candidates
Posted on 11/09/2012 3:59:11 AM PST by Kaslin
These are days of hindsight and second-guessing for Republicans, which is human nature after a trauma like this election loss.
There are million why theories out there, from the Hurricane Sandy effect to pernicious media bias. Wringing our hands over those factors gets us nowhere.
We cant stop hurricanes, and media bias is always there. Reagan and Bush 43 won twice against waves of poisonous bias, so that is not an insurmountable obstacle.
What Republicans need is a slate of candidates that can energize the base while expanding the appeal of a conservative message.
Easy to say, hard to do.
Like many of you, I spent Election Day in the warm glow of anticipation. I was going to see Barack Obama returned to private life-- the end of an error, as my favorite bumper stickers said. I could taste it. It was going to happen.
Except it didnt.
Fueled by respected names in the pundit class, we allowed ourselves to invest emotionally in the Romney win before it happened. How could all of us have been so wrong?
It is not, as the left suggests, because we were rotting in a right-wing echo chamber, shielding ourselves from contrarian views. I considered thoughtfully the notion that Obama might well win, because we usually dont kick incumbents out, and because the Democrats would surely have a well-honed ground game.
But I saw no way Obama would pull anywhere near the almost 70 million votes he received in 2008. Everywhere I turned were voters who were with him then and are no longer. Not that they were necessarily turned into Romney voters; many were turned back into what they had been before-- non-voters.
So that analysis was correct. Obama received 9 million fewer votes than in 2008.
But the companion expectation-- that surely Romney would pull more strongly than a 2008 McCain campaign widely viewed as tepid-- was far off the mark.
This was our undoing.
In Mitt Romney, we had a good man who was a good candidate. And for those of us willing to crawl on broken glass to make Obama a one-term President, it was easy to conclude that we had enough company to snare just a few million more than four years ago, when we pretty well knew we were about to get our lunch eaten.
But for all of its appeal-- a worthy candidate, a solid debate performance, a strong finish-- the Romney/Ryan ticket did not attract enough excitement to win a thoroughly winnable election.
We should not blame our nominee. The things he could control, he managed well. But the factors that hurt him were immutable.
We could not go back and make him consistently pro-life throughout his adulthood.
We could not go back and make him think better of Romneycare.
And we could not make him upper middle class.
Fairly or unfairly, these were voter suppressants.
Even if a small percentage of conservatives were wary of his late-life conversion to valuing the unborn, that made winning harder.
Romneycare was a bigger problem. Rival Rick Santorum wisely told us that we dared not offer up a candidate whose own policies while Governor undercut his ability to criticize Obamacare.
For what its worth, I thoroughly believed Gov. Romney when he said he would not attempt nationally what he enacted at the state level. One is constitutional, one is not.
But when you have enacted compulsory health insurance purchases in your state, you are a flawed messenger in an election that requires a voice professing lifelong opposition to such government overreach.
Romneys wealth takes us into trickier territory, into the landscape of things that should not be held against any candidate.
It is sad that actual success in business sets up a candidate to be bashed as an uncaring, detached plutocrat. This is particularly wrong in the case of Romney, a glowing example of generosity in a lifetime of service to others.
But sometimes you have to play the field the way it is striped. So if our goal is to excite the conservative base while having some hope of expanding it, here is a to-do list that we can work on as the days unfold.
First, we reject the notion that we must somehow soften our views or cave on core beliefs. Any vote we would attract from the middle would be outweighed by votes we would deserve to lose on the right.
But we do have the choice on what to emphasize and what to phrase differently.
If social conservatism freaks some people out, make it clear that our candidates will stand for the unborn and man/woman marriage, but that ultimately those decisions are best left to the states. People who want fiscal sanity and strong defense can vote for us, and save their energies on abortion, contraception and gay rights for their state legislatures.
If we need to appeal to the nurturing instinct of women, we should describe how government is the worst purveyor of real care-- health or otherwise-- that truly helps people. Then we describe the protective value of fighting terrorism.
If we need to attract people of color, we hold events where they are-- lots of them. Goodwill breeds goodwill, even if it takes a long time. And remember, for 2016 goodwill might be defined as simply as 15 percent of the black vote and 40 percent of Hispanics.
Regarding Latinos, I refuse to believe they are unanimously desirous of soft borders and amnesty. I know many proud Hispanics who are consistently chafed at waves of people seeking illegal access to a country they entered legally-- and many of them are Democrats.
The GOP challenge with Hispanics is the same as the challenge with blacks, which is the same challenge we face with single women: we need to skillfully, caringly, compellingly persuade them that the expansionist welfare state they seek is not good for them or the country.
This takes time, and it takes talent.
So as we look toward to voting at last for Obamas successor-- and make no mistake, campaigns on both sides will fire up right after the midterms in 2014-- we need to get very picky.
No more flights of fancy with candidates with interesting life stories but no elected experience.
No flirtations with candidates who can pump up a Tea Party rally but repel potential crossover votes with needlessly incendiary rhetorical excess.
And no more experiments with people of admittedly good heart and solid values who are simply not good at debating and answering challenging questions on the fly.
As a final filter, like it or not, we probably rule out anyone with a net worth greater than eight figures.
Even after that process, when we are left with a field of worthy prospects, we may need some sacrificial behavior from within that number.
I already hear the mumurings of fear that four or five true conservatives will enter the race, all attracting their 12 percent of the primary vote while a moderate more palatable to party power brokers and the Georgetown cocktail community shoots through that crowd to the nomination.
I dont care where they meet in the Summer of 2014, but if we are blessed with the ambitions of Paul Ryan, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Susanna Martinez, Bobby Jindal, Mitch Daniels, Nikki Haley and a few others I could mention, they need to meet somewhere over a weekend.
I dont care if they draw straws, play rock/paper/scissors or draw up a checkers tournament. All but two need to sit it out.
We simply cannot have the internecine primary carnage that leaves us with another nominee that is the second or third choice of most Republicans.
Id love to think that as a party we could craft that winnowing process ourselves in the primaries. We cant. Weve proven it. When we get passionate about someone, even someone who has zero chance of winning, we just dont let go. Give us a half dozen people who are actually electable, and our heads may explode.
So lets gear up for that mid-second-term off-year election that tends to be brutal for incumbent presidents, and get the Senate back, surrounding Barack Obama with two houses of Congress holding up shields against every bad idea he may float.
Then lets field a candidate in 2016 who can win. Not by moving to the middle, but by bringing the middle toward us, through smarts, likability and life story. If this is the skill set of our 2016 messenger, there will be no need to water down the conservatism we know is right.
Rule #1 for the GOP should be the following: Don't ever nominate a presidential candidate whose odds of carrying his own state are small. This is where the GOP got into a ton of trouble, folks. If Romney had been governor of Texas, Ohio or Florida, he would have won this election in a landslide -- because he wouldn't have appeared so transparently unprincipled on a key campaign issue like Obamacare and a key "values voter" issue like gay marriage.
Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
I'm sorry, but I've been watching the inept and spineless GOP bumble around for over 4 decades now, and they ALWAYS say the same thing "We'll do better next time".
Sorry boys, but as far as I'm concerned, you won't GET a 'next time'.
I thought and still do that we had a great candidate in Sarah Palin - but she scared some of the GOP old timers, so she was thrown under the bus. I’m tired of the go along to get along mentality of the old guard - we need someone like Palin to tell it like it is. I’m a 74 yr old white woman - a minority!! and I’d support her or someone like her in a heartbeat.
I think Romney has values but like us, perhaps, he compromised them in the name of politics.
A bad story about him was that he counseled some women not to have an abortion, but for politics he compromised his values.
Maybe he is more like us than we realize.
As much as I hate socialized medicine, a state has a right to decide on that and vote it in. The majority of his state obviously wanted that. They got it.
The truth of it all, I guess we will never know.
AMEN! The comments I have heard from Republicans since Tuesday simply amaze me. The RINO didn’t work, so let’s go even further to the left, we have to be more “inclusive”, we have to go after the women, the blacks, the hispanics, etc. etc. etc. I am hearing these comments not only on Yahoo and blogs but also right here on Free Republic. So it seems like we should now be pro-abortion, pro-women’s “rights”, pro-obmamaphones, pro-amnesty and much more. Boy, that will REALLY show those liberals a thing or two, won’t it. We have to consider what true conservatives are going to do if the GOP continues this push to the left. Do we wait until the next election and vote for Christie because he is “better than the alternative”? Or do we just say the the hell with the GOP and start work NOW to form a CONSERVATIVE party? I can hear the bitching and moaning now- “but we’ll lose the next election”, blah, blah, blah. Well guess what? We’ll lose it anyway. How long do we wait to do something? How many more times do we have to settle for the best alternative, and not even get that? Is ANYONE out there going to wake up?
Sorry boys, but as far as I'm concerned, you won't GET a 'next time'.
Hear! Hear! Notice how the GOP is now saying "Wait until 2014! It's coming!"
What, I am going to let Lucy hold the football for me one more time.?
Nuts to that.....
I am of the opinion that the party chooses candidates based on the people who show up to vote, not on wooing those who did not vote. Who hears the silent voice? I look to a future where we are going to have more moderate candidates because it seems where conservates are too fractured to even field a candidate we can all, or mostly all agree on. If people are not going to show up to vote to somehow teach the country a lesson, who is going to listen?
We lost to a very popular incumbent, who had an almost six-month lead time of saturating battleground states with ads and speeches against Romney before he even had a chance to respond.
The Republican debate candidates were carpet bombed and criticized by Team Obama and and the MSM and had little ability to respond. Then, our guys attacked each other to get to the top of the heap, making ridiculous accusations to play “gotcha”. Again, Obama and his team are blaring their simple and direct message to voters, over and over and over while saving sound bites to use for later.
Our core message of liberty and freedom is fine, but we need to show how that benefits people other than married/white/religious. Why are our excellent minority candidates ignored? They were on prominent display at the convention and yet they seem “one and done” with respect to TV time.
Get them out front and into the streets and neighborhoods and *demonstrate* how the conservative message and ideologies can work for the average Black, Hispanic, Asian, Unmarried Woman, etc.
I knew there was trouble when Romney couldn’t pull out a clear primary win in Michigan. In 08 he flogged John McCain here by nearly 10 points. In 2010 it came down to an electoral tie with Santorum winning 58 of our 83 counties and the congressional districts split evenly. That ended with a late night rule change that gave Romney one more delegate.
Romney used a liberal campaign strategy to pick up wins by winning urban areas that weren’t going to vote for him in the general election. Once he won the nomination he had to rely on the people he had passed over during the primary.
It was bad news and a lot of FReepers knew it but once Romney became the nominee, speaking that truth became blaspheme. The moral of that story is that shouting people down or diving them away doesn’t make a winner, it makes a surprised loser.
Popular incumbent? He was at 45 approval two months ago and that was after a year of rehabilitation. He worked his way up to 50 percent approval in the final month and half because we allowed him to redefine the economy as ‘improving’ and never challenged him effectively, outside of debates .The ads needed to go up in June. Obama was running ads with the job growth early in 2012. There is no reason we can’t have some organization challenging that with counter ads along the way. Our side has always played the game by focusing on the final few weeks. We are ceding too much ground in public opinion in the 12 previous months. We have to take our argument to the people daily. We don’t have the media, so we have to use other methods.
Frankly, we lost because not enough people in the middle class were convinced Obama policies made things worse, combined with the much bigger problem that the left has built a permanent highly targeted get out the vote machine that will be used every cycle going forward. We needed to convert more suburban middle class voters, especially women, that they are voting against their own interests with bigger fatter government. It is the only way we are not outnumbered by dependency voters.
The author understates that part of the problem with candidate Romney. For many, even here, Romney was not the "second or third choice" for many he was absolutely the last choice and for many more, he was not a choice at all.
It was not that he was "moderate", it was that his life time record was that of a liberal. There are members of congress, democrats, with more conservative records than Romney.
The problem is still out there, if nothing changes, we will have a half dozen more conservative candidates in the 2016 primary running against a liberal, the liberal will win again and lose the general.
Romney personally is not the enemy, his liberalism is.
Umm...actually, no they don't.
Purchasing health insurance is a matter of PRIVATE contract, and no public entity called a 'State' or any of its legal or political subdivisions has any authority o force a private person into a public contract.
Trying to blend the People with he government IS the Constitutional definition of treason.
Since the union of the sovereignty with the government, constitutes a state of absolute power, or tyranny, over the people, every attempt to effect such an union is treason against the sovereignty, in the actors; and every extension of the administrative authority beyond its just constitutional limits, is absolutely an act of usurpation in the government, of that sovereignty, which the people have reserved to themselves.
Preliminary Remarks, St. George Tucker, View of the Constitution
You guys still don’t get it. The America that we once knew is dead. The moochers, looters and inner city tribal parasites outnumber the producers. You cannot beat Santa Claus.
Look at the comment, two below yours.
GOPe and RNC can go to hell as far as I am concerned.
We were warned again in March.