Thursday, November 15, 2012

Republican, Heal Thyself

After every presidential election, there is soul-searching, and if the Republicans want to get anywhere, to stay vital, to have a voice, they need to look within, and it needs to be more than a cosmetic gaze.  National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru had one of the better essays on what the GOP needs to do.

Republicans don't like being labelled as racist, sexist, homophobic, etc., but they make it too easy sometimes.  Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock lost two "gimme" Senate seats because they didn't know how to not bungle a rape question.  Gains that George W. Bush made in attracting Latinos to the GOP were lost in the 2008 and 2012 elections when hard-liners made illegal immigration their #1 issue.  Most Latino-Americans want our borders secured too, but I saw more than one FB post from conservatives with the parable of Joe Legal and Jose Illegal.  When a candidate would say "We love legal immigrants" it rang hollow.

The vast majority of African-Americans voted with Obama in 2008, and even if most of them wouldn't switch for any reason, there needs to be a long game played.  Harping on the "New Black Panther Party" and bringing up the birth certificate issue over and over did nothing but hurt feelings now and deepen distrust for the future.

The media and pollsters are obsessed with demographic breakdown, and it's clear certain demographics just favor Democrats more.  The GOP needs to resist the urge of demographic pandering but more importantly, they need to stamp out the appearance of demographic dismissal.  Saying "Oh, single women voted 67% for Obama?  Eh, they just want big government as their sugar daddy" will do nothing to leave the door open to sway single women in the future.

This time around would be tough because of the primary process, regardless of who won.  It was also tough because of which candidates chose to run.  Perfectly qualified, interesting people like Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson and Buddy Roemer were ignored in favor of sideshow candidates like Herman Cain and Michelle Bachmann.  Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, et al., had ZERO chance in a general election, and everyone knew it, but they were still allowed on stage.  The debates, while entertaining and informative, also did long-term damage.  And it's not just the candidates' fault. Who can forget the audience booing the gay soldier, or booing the Golden Rule?

There's also conservative media to consider.  We live in an age where people can get news from an infinite numbers of sources, most of it unreliable, and more and more, people are consuming news that reaffirms their world-view.  If you only watch MSNBC and read Daily Kos, for instance, you'd think Mitt Romney was one of the most evil men to ever run for president.  And a conservative may nod and feel superior to that silly notion.  But it sure seems like there are plenty of conservatives out there who only listen to Rush Limbaugh, watch Fox News, and read sites like WND for their info.

Mitt Romney was a flawed candidate, but I think he would have been a good president.  I'll do a separate piece on him specifically, but the American people rejected the Republicans this year.  Sure, we can argue turnout, margins of victory, voter fraud allegations, etc., but the Democrats did soul-searching in 2004 when they lost by similar margins and they came out better for it.  Time for the Republicans to do the same.

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