A Cure for Some of Our Ills
There has been, is and will be a lot of talk about what the GOP needs to do to win over voters in 2008. All such scribblings and conversations are erroneous and vain. There is very little the GOP can do to win back the confidence of voters. Sure, politics is local and good candidates combined with good campaigns can find victory in bad electoral years.
On the whole, however, the GOP is just not going to win. For one thing, all the talk about what the GOP needs to do to win the hearts and minds of voters will be impossible to implement. The GOP is out of power. So, when you hear a politician say the GOP needs to become the party of fiscal responsibility, the proper response is to laugh.
Right now, the GOP is responsible for very little. They’re in the minority. At the moment we still have the presidency but on the whole the Democrats are the ones playing offense. The opportunity for the Republicans to show the voters they’re interested in fiscal responsibility has passed. We had the chance, we blew it. There’s no reason for the people to give the Republicans another go after they had a working majority in every branch of government.
There are few things the out of power party can do to convince voters of meaningful action. One of the best is a purge. Let’s be frank, if George Bush was a prime minister in Britain he would have been forced to resign years ago. In the system we have now, it’s about impossible to remove entrenched leadership.
This isn’t to say it can’t be done. State party chairs, national leaders, elected leaders, all need to step down. (Gosh, it would also help a lot to get rid of Bush, a lot.) For elected leaders it’s not so important they retire than they simply fade away from the spotlight. The voters need to see the party they put out power (or the party they want to put out of power) is making significant, meaningful and public changes to personnel and message.
I’m not suggesting the GOP surrender its conservatism, just its leadership and message. Conservatism works because it yields to tradition and history (normally in ways that work). But it does take new applications to keep conservatism meaningful. Ronald Reagan wanted to cut taxes, deregulate and defeat communism. Now, taxes, communism and regulation aren’t on the minds of voters. Deal with it.
So, a summary. We need new leadership, fresh faces, new ideas (really, new applications of conservative values) in order to convince voters we’re making strides to meet their needs and demands. Even then, it might be 2010 or 2012 before the voters get the message.