November 14, 2006

Time For The GOP To Start Over

Yeah, there's a lot of debate and finger pointing over why the GOP lost last week. Much of that is irrelevant now. The party needs to focus on the future, not the past. It has to start over. Twelve years is quite a run, even more impressive when you consider that the same party held the White House for six of those twelve years. But the run is over. They need to work on starting a new one.

Andrew Cline, in The American Spectator, looks at how the Republican majority evolved (or devolved) during that time:

Hastert presided over a Republican-controlled House that each year became more cynical, more spend-happy, and more obsessed with maintaining power. This is no knock on Republican ideology or principles. The idea of a "Republican culture of corruption" rooted in GOP ideology is nonsense. Democrats displayed the marks of corruption quite prominently prior to 1994. The root of the problem, as always, is the corrupting influence of power.

Somewhere along the road from revolution to "permanent majority," Republican leaders abandoned the core theme that brought Republicans to power: disgust with Washington insider culture.

Essentially, they went from being the outsiders coming in to fix the problems of Washington to the insiders who reinforced the problems of Washington. Republicans often point out that prior to 1994 the Democrats had come to believe that being in control was their birthright - one that dated back to the 1930's. It wasn't and voters let them know in no uncertain terms. Republicans had fallen into the same trap. They weren't entitled to a majority status, but many of them - particularly among the leadership - began to think that way. And worse still, they began to act that way.

Ideology aside, the bulk of voters in the middle - who demand solutions rather than an agenda - got so fed up with Congress that they were willing to take on the risk of allowing Democrats to co-manage our national security. This is a big risk and one that I didn't think they'd be willing to take. I was wrong on that one. And no more than a week later, those voters have already been given reasons to wonder if they hadn't made a huge mistake.

The next two years will determine that. And if by the next go-around voters feel that the country is less safe and less secure, many will feel a strong sense of buyer's remorse. Strong enough perhaps to make them wary of keeping the Democrats in control.

But this in and of itself doesn't mean that Republicans would become the automatic beneficiaries. They can't count on this, nor should they. The GOP needs to return to the idea of fixing problems, some of which they helped create. They need to re-prioritize what issues they will champion. They need to remember that Conservative principles and ideas don't just sell themselves. Like the Contract With America of 1994, voters want and need to see tangible and practical applications of these principles that will benefit them individually rather than move our society and culture in a particular direction.

Last Tuesday, we had a reactionary election because we reached a point where the status quo was no longer acceptable. If Republicans wait long enough, they could find themselves back in control the same way. But we don't have a lot of time here. We're at war with a global Islamofascist ideology that wants Western culture in general and the United States in particular converted or dead.

The Republican party must work hard to heal its wounds and restore confidence with the majority of voters. It's time return to being proactive rather than reactive.

Posted by: Gary at 10:15 AM | No Comments | Add Comment
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