Just as my liberal friends are on a high, my conservative and libertarian friends are on a low, particularly in Minnesota.
In reality, we right-of-center folks shouldn’t be too depressed. If you look at elections as four-year cycles instead of two-year cycles, the electorate actually shifted to the right since 2006/2008. Most people seem to forget there’s a natural difference in turnout between midterm and presidential elections. So we should never compare the 2012 result with the 2010 result, we need to compare presidential elections with presidential elections, and midterm elections with midterm elections. So, between the midterm elections of 2006 and 2010, there was a dramatic shift to the Republicans. And, despite the fact Romney lost in 2012, Obama’s margin of victory was significantly smaller in 2012 than it was in 2008. Right now, just from a historic standpoint, the Republicans are favored to take the Senate in 2014, so all is not doom and gloom.
That said, the last six years of political history have shown us a Republican Party completely ill-equipped to discuss political issues in a realistic and compelling way, to win important elections, or to form winning coalitions to push policy (at least on the national level). The first step towards a cure is simple: fresh blood. The Republican Party is going through a long cycle where one generation is being replaced by another, and this is always uncomfortable. It’s also necessary. The new political landscape is not one concerned about communism (here and abroad) nor are we talking about going to the moon anymore or whatever people worried about before Reagan. The conversation has changed, and new people are necessary to communicate not only that there are the “permanent things” of Russell Kirk, but that the permanent things are still permanent even in a secular world of irreligious people who spend a lot of time playing Angry Birds.
The second step is just understanding where we went wrong. Here are some of my ideas:
- Forever War; one day the Republicans are openly criticising President Clinton for sending troops into the Balkans, and six years later Republicans are openly defending two major land wars in foreign countries. War is part of The Fall; war is unavoidable, but war does not need cheerleaders or blind allegiance. Conservatism should always be about a “return to normalcy” and not about revolutionary changes and nation-state experimentation.
- Willingness to lose elections; the Tea Party is wrong.Losing is Losing. How losing became so popular, I will not understand. Losing on principle is still losing. I don’t care if it’s losing in Delaware, or losing in Michigan, or losing in Colorado. Picking a bad candidate over a good candidate because of, what in reality would be, a difference of a few votes each session is stupid. And stupid is the quickest way to losing. And losing is for losers.
- Mexicans are our friends, immigration is good. Seriously. Becoming obsessed about what is in essence a bureaucratic issue (“hey, you forgot to put a cover letter on your application for a work visa”) may have permanently damaged conservatism in this country. Hispanics are the fastest growing demographic in the country because America is awesomer than the alternative. Our goal should be to keep America awesomer, not get freaked out about whatever it is about Mexicans the immigration-obsessed losers get freaked out about.
- Gay Marriage; regardless of your particular view on the subject, gay marriage is the cause de jour of the Millenials. Using gay marriage as a GOTV tactic in the aughts was a mistake since the issue will be used the same way in the teens. Our best hope is for activist courts to strike down gay marriage bans so we can all get on with our lives.
Of course, I may be wrong.
- A Very Early Look At The Midterms (dish.andrewsullivan.com)
- Forecast projects small Democratic gain in House in midterm election (sacbee.com)
- Borger: The new GOP reality show (cnn.com)
- Democrats Unlikely to Take Back House in 2014 (politicalwire.com)
- GOP’s Obsession With Guns Stands To Drive Women Vote In The 2014 Election: Poll (tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com)
- Republicans Push Hispanic Recruitment Amid Immigration Rifts (bloomberg.com)