There is a huge problem this election for Republicans. Great Republican victories have historically had winning themes which allowed for a uniform national message which could be carried by Republican candidates all over. For Reagan it was Morning in America (or, are you better off now than you were four years ago). In 1994 it was the Contract with America. National security issues carried us in ’02 and ’04.
But 2008 will be one of those election years where there won’t be a national message Republicans will be able to rely on. And it’s not because there aren’t winning messages out there. Gas and energy prices are a huge issue, one the Republicans are right on and the Democrats are wrong on (Jimmy Carter, gas lines, anyone?). The Democrat’s answer to higher gas prices is to raise taxes and limit supply; an instance in history where this method has actually resulted in real prices being lowered for any product on a long term basis isn’t recorded (and if it is and I missed it, it should be advertised by left wingers better).
Unfortunately, the comprehensive energy package proposals being offered by Republicans (increase domestic drilling and refinery capacity, more nuclear power plants, among other ideas) won’t help the GOP avoid getting hammered this November.
The voters are suffering from two mental blocks. The first is easy enough to understand, incumbent party fatigue. The GOP was in power for a long time, did some good but had that offset by an unpopular war and the ongoing status quo was simply unbearable for most voters. The other reason the GOP won’t be able to have a unified message is because the voters have no reason to believe anything a Republican tells them.
Think about this for a second. One of the ongoing memes at the GOP state convention was that the GOP needed to prove themselves fiscally responsible to voters, to reclaim the honor of being fiscal conservatives. The only way this makes any sense is if the GOP wasn’t practicing what they preached when they were in power. Not even Republicans think Republicans made any effort to hold themselves to the values which brought them to office in the first place.
How are voters supposed to believe anything an incumbent Republican says now? How could they possibly be expected to give the benefit of the doubt to the Party of no soul? Manufactured, focus group tested political messages from the GOP directed to the voters themselves will be laughed at, if we’re lucky. More likely, they’ll be totally ignored.
This is not to say there is no hope in 2008. Outside of John McCain (the only GOP presidential candidate who had anything more than a slim chance of winning) we’ll have to remember all politics is local. Good candidates running good campaigns could turn a slaughter into a mere disaster. It’s very possible to win in bad years and in tough areas, it’s just a lot of work and even then you need to get lucky.
Even in this though, the GOP isn’t likely to have much luck. Republicans are generally businessmen, less true believers. For Democrats, their political philosophy is much more personally encompassing; their politics is their religion. They run hard campaigns in tough districts much more often than their party opposites.
The “business” of politics dictates you put resources only into select districts often at the sacrifice of huge numbers of tougher areas. The GOP does this as a matter of policy. Tougher areas are left to fend for themselves, often creating a cycle of defeat which emaciates esprit de corps among even the local diehards.
An army of charismatic candidates, true believers, who know how to conduct solid campaigns with good ground games and pointed media management could be the saving grace for the GOP in 2008. Too bad Republicans don’t actually believe in such things.
Filed under: Political, Political Tidbits | Tagged: Election 2008, Elections, GOP, Political Technology, Republicans | Comments Off