On Tuesday, Barack Obama won the U.S. presidential election.
So the question is, what should (or can) the GOP do now?
Unfortunately for Republicans and the 56 million people who voted for Romney, there is no day after pill for Barack Obama (how anti-choice is that?). But there are a lot of hypotheses about what the GOP did wrong: Was Romney too moderate? Was Romney too extreme? Did Republicans fail to engage women, gays, Latinos, (fill in your favorite subgroup)? Are Republican values just not capable of winning elections anymore? Is it hopeless?
The answer to all of the above is: no.
The Republicans did not lose because Mitt Romney was too extreme, or because running mate Paul Ryan was too extreme. They also did not lose because Romney was too moderate. They did not lose because of a failure to reach out to this group or that group, or because Republican principles are not sound. They did lose, however, because of the failure to effectively communicate those core Republican ideals and principles.
Remember that not only did strong right-wing candidates like Utah Governor Mia Love and Congressman Allen West lose, but moderates like Massachusetts incumbent Senator Scott Brown lost as well. As much as moderates or staunch conservatives might like to blame each other – the failure, nationwide, was too big for either side of the GOP tent to take all the blame. In that bickering we will find no answers.
Likewise there is no solution to be found in arguing over which subgroup the Republicans didn’t pander to appropriately. This type of divisive politics simply must stop.
Let’s talk about some of those constituencies. The GOP must be able to explain that a desire to secure the border and create a path to citizenship is a positive step benefitting all voters – not some type of anti-Hispanic philosophy. These calls for “embracing” the Hispanic vote are futile because it’s absurd to constantly send the message that Hispanics are not already embraced by the GOP, or that immigration is the only issue that concerns them. The biggest obstacle between Hispanics and Republicans is an imaginary wall built by the race-baiting of the Left.
Republicans must clearly articulate that the only racism evident on this issue is that of the Democrats who assume that law-abiding citizens of the United States who happen to be of Hispanic descent are all somehow passionately in favor of unsecured borders and a steady flow of illegal immigrants. Republicans must communicate the “why” – why border security is important to all citizens and how reform of the current disastrous situation can improve life for everyone (and will hopefully enable a change in how our immigration policy works).
Republicans should also be able to communicate why so-called traditional marriage is so important in culture, focusing on the societal benefits (statistically more stable homes, better educated children, less welfare, etc.) rather than speaking out against a specific issue like gay marriage (or single motherhood, for that matter).
There are many Republicans who identify themselves as gay no matter how they view the gay marriage issue, and there are gay marriage supporters who support liberty and free markets. These allies can vote in concert with religious voters who oppose gay marriage when the principles are clearly articulated. That is to say, the Republican perspective on gay marriage is that traditional marriage matters culturally – but that it isn’t really any business of the federal government in the first place. Again, these are unifying principles around which all Americans can rally.
Similarly, the accusation that the GOP is anti-women is patently absurd, as I have previously explained. Only the Democrats think that women are a group that needs to have their every reproductive-system-based whim fulfilled by a progressive daddy known as the federal government (aka voting with your ladyparts).
This petty divisive tactic used by Obama in this past campaign was particularly effective because it pounced on a couple of unfortunate statements by Republican candidates regarding rape. One such statement was utterly ignorant (Todd Akin’s regarding the female body’s response to rape); the other was simply an acknowledgment that although rape is evil, a human being born from it isn’t (as all the people currently living their lives who were born because of such a situation would almost certainly concur).
Nevertheless, an offensive comment does not a party stance make (look no further than Bill Maher’s comments from the Left), and this demonizing of the GOP as somehow pro-rape or anti-woman needs to be consistently and clearly countered with the truth that the issues facing our country cannot be divided by gender – it is a false division, like all the others the Left trumps up.
And that is what the GOP must focus on now – solutions to the problems that face all of us regardless of race, gender or who we happen to sleep with. Which brings us face to face with the GOP’s biggest breakdown – the failure to educate future generations on the importance and value of the free market, and the liberty, equality and opportunity inherent in such a system.
Instead of embracing, encouraging and celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit so critical to America, we (Americans) have squashed it with regulations and entitlements. We have grown up thinking that the government (and the world) owes us something, and so anything we want becomes a right – birth control, healthcare, a cell phone, the new Tory Burch shoes, you name it. We have been taught to envy, hate and slander those who are successful (see Occupy Wall Street), and we are increasingly encouraged to engage in class warfare of the type Rousseau prescribed.
Political philosopher Irving Babbitt once said of Rousseau’s ideas that, “Perhaps no doctrine has ever been more cunningly devised to fill the poor man and the plebeian with self-righteous pride, and at the same time to inflame him with hatred and suspicion of those who enjoy any social or economic superiority.” I could think of no better way to describe the current situation – except in America no one has to be a poor man or plebeian, and that is the beauty of our system that the GOP has failed to communicate, increasingly, to younger and younger generations – like mine.
When Americans fail to understand that free market capitalism is the one thing that will truly equalize the playing field for everyone, including all those groups the Democrats are so fond of slicing and dicing, we can expect nothing less than a second term of Barack Obama. After all, it’s hard to compete against the promise of “free stuff,” but if the people don’t understand freedom in the first place – it’s practically a lost cause.
At this moment, the battle for American hearts and minds has been won by the Left. That is what the GOP is up against – and that is why they must become, if nothing else, a clear communicator of a message that teaches America’s real hope. The hope that is indeed a change from what we’ve been devolving into over the past decades. A hope that is, as Lincoln said, the last best hope on earth.
And as another great leader, Winston Churchill, once said: “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.” Let us hope that he’s right.