Political prudence for the GOP


It’s been almost two weeks now since the Great Disappointment of 2012.  In 1844, the Millerites were let down in their expectation of divine deliverance.  With the wailing and self-flagellation of some after Romney’s 2012 defeat, one could be forgiven for thinking an event of similar cosmic significance had transpired.

To be sure, there is much to talk about.  And I myself have had some hearty discussions or else tracked the ongoing conversation.  This time of ferment offers a fresh opportunity to applaud realistic thinking as well as call out and smack down the sillier and more destructive ideas.

Two or three days after election, I came across one of the self-flagellation pieces on American Thinker.  The article looks back to the GOP’s post-Gingrich Revolution profligacy.  It seems the author is laying some significant portion of the election blame there.  But these transgressions happened an eternity ago on the political timescale.  It’s a little hard to imagine any number of voters bemoaning Trent Lott’s appropriation decisions from 17 years ago.

Yet the idea persists that Republicans are still suffering from the veto of off-put fiscal purists.  Michael Medved counters this notion with a rhetorical image: where is this mythical army of conservative voters who are withholding for the right candidate?  Only 40% of the country identifies as conservative, and we pretty well turned them out this last time.  The decisive work ahead lies not in squeezing an elusive reservoir of more conservatives but winning more moderates in the middle.  The numbers bear this out.

Meanwhile, a piece from Forbes offers a different message: this latest defeat is a chance to shake free of Karl Rove and the Bush II cadre.  Per the commentary, its high time for true Reaganites, in the Jack Kemp mold, to climb back to power.  I’m not really knowledgeable on the comparative schools of GOP politicos, but I took the editorial with a grain of salt.  Just think of Reagan’s 11th commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.”  Certainly, there’s room to criticize of our fellow partisans, but we ought to be wary of taking away such a simplistic narrative.  And we need to watch out for the damage that comes from publicly airing our internecine struggles.

Reading articles is nice, but one doesn’t even have to look that far to examine a slice of the conservative movement.  There’s Twitter for that.  And a lot of what has been floating in the past few days is junk.  There is the talk of secession.  Just dumb.  Neither is a dire outlook of the Republican brand appropriate.  And please, let’s suffer no more talk of RINOs.  This kind of sourness doesn’t help grow the party.  But to Twitter conservatives’ credit, folks seem to be on the ball in registering their disdain for unelectable candidates like Todd Akin.  If anyone needs to be kicked out, it’s brand-destroyers of that vein.

A bright spot in the post-election conservation is Daniel Henninger’s deconstruction of the Obama victory.  He has exposed the repulsive shape of future campaigns that Democrats have pioneered.  It will be in your face, all the time, and begging for every last penny.  Democrats, drawing on the progressive obsession with number-crunching technocratic solutions, have perfected the division and manipulation of the voting populace.

The rank and file of the GOP is too idealistic by comparison.  We’re always waxing about “articulating ideas.”  But I know we have some unsavory electorate-dicing operatives among us; or at least, we ought to.  We need them to act with the resources and range of their Democratic counterparts.

One more take away from post-election discussion comes from Michael Medved.  Per his recent piece, the key to Obama’s reelection victory was voter suppression.  You read that right.  Not Black Panther intimidation or tampering with ballots, though that surely happened too.  The winning strategy was deeply cynical: turn off swing voters, and push your base to the polls at all costs.  There’s nothing magical we can’t replicate there.

I think the GOP definitely has the ability to turn things around in the next few elections.  But even if you disagree, I would implore you to hold the myopic moping, conspiracy theories and intra-partisan vitriol.  Don’t spoil the hunt for the rest of us; too much is at stake.

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About Lewis W
I earned an M.A. in Christian apologetics at Biola University, and occasionally write on ethics, truth, science and politics.

3 Responses to Political prudence for the GOP

  1. You always have great thoughts. Honestly, a good part of it is incumbency advantage. Democrats keep saying Republicans are “in decline” because of this election… But please. It wasn’t a complete blowout by any means.

    Furthermore, historical trends show Republican governors and legislatures at high levels.

  2. Interesting note on incumbency; neither should we forget that Republicans lost the popular vote in 5 out of 6 of the last presidential elections. Only the incumbent George W Bush of 2004 was able to win the popular vote. But then there was the fluke of Ross Perot in 1992. Chalk part of it up to bad luck.

    I agree though, the lamentations of 2012 are disproportionate to the extent of the loss.

  3. Hektor says:

    I listen to Michael Medved and he usually wants to have it both ways. According to him, Barack Obama is either a brilliant and astute college professor who wants the best for America, or he is totally inept at running the government.

    I think he is correct about voter suppression, but then again, Romney and the GOP did very little to dispute lies and misconceptions about the Romney until it was way too late. Romney went to the NAACP and insulted the audience and then wanted their vote. The GOP pretty much wrote off the Hispanic vote, while begging for the Conservatives to show up. This country has 75 million legal gun owners and all they had to do was show up on election day but many of them stayed home.

    Medved strongly supported both John McCain and Mitt Romney, neither being certified Conservatives. Medved is 0 for 2 and we have Obama for the next 4 years or even beyond if Michele Obama decides that she wants to stay. I don’t believe I will ever take Medved serious anymore regarding elections. He says he is pro gun / pro 2nd Amendment but says he has no problem taking away certain guns that he does not own himself, with no knowledge about the legitimate sporting and competitive use for them.

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