ADHERE TO CONSERVATIVE VALUES – OR CAVE IN TO SOCIAL LIBERALISM?
It all boils down to simple math. 25% of Americans want free stuff; another 25% are more than willing to give it to them. Barack Obama not only understood this reality well before 2008; he’s run a never-ending campaign and won two presidential elections as a result.
What isn’t simple is how the hell do Republicans run against this reality and win? How do we take two points – perhaps one point from each group – away from the Democrats?
As was the case following John McCain’s defeat in 2008, the struggle for the heart and soul – and the future direction – of the Republican Party began well before the election night coverage ended. One school demands that the Grand Old Party party return to its conservative roots – while another argues that Republicans must fundamentally transform themselves into Democrats – particularly on social issues and immigration. Which option is right?
Historically, Republicans do best when they stick to their conservative roots. (Think Ronald Reagan vs. John McCain.) Before you jump to the conclusion, “but Rat, America is a vastly different country demographically than it was during Reagan’s time,” you’re absolutely right. But – consider these statistics: Obama beat Romney in the popular vote by 2,724,489 votes – or only 2.33% of total votes cast. Roughly 12 million less people voted in this election than in 2008. Romney received more than 2.5 million fewer votes than did McCain in 2008 – and 5 million less than George Bush in 2004.
Furthermore, the Democrats now have a five-point lead over Republicans in party affiliation among registered voters when independents who lean to either party are included (48% to 43%). That’s down from a 12-point advantage in 2008 (51% to 39%). What more could we have asked for?
It gets worse: Obama received nearly 9 million less votes in 2012 than in 2008. Moreover, we knew it would happen: his campaign crowds were a fraction of what they were in 2008 and the “excitement factor” among Democrats was down substantially – with Obama-Biden 2012 bumper stickers and yard signs virtually nowhere to be found.
The bottom line is this: Republicans had a golden opportunity; they simply needed to show up to the polls in greater numbers. That did not happen.
The question is, what does the GOP do to make it happen – both in 2014 and beyond? Should it transform itself into something akin to fiscally-conservative, socially liberal Democratic Party in an attempt to capture more of the independent vote, or should it return to its conservative roots and work like hell to get out the base?
Consider this statistic: Currently, independents lean slightly more toward the Republican Party than the Democratic Party (15% vs. 13%). Four years ago, the reverse was true – 13% leaned Democratic, 11% Republican. Yet, Romney still lost the election – receiving, as I said earlier, 2.5 million less votes than did McCain in 2008.
It’s clear that the Republican Party must not only remain committed to conservative values, both fiscally and socially; it must fight like hell in Congress – rather than fold up like a cheap tent, which is what the ineffective John Boehner has already signaled he’s prepared to do. If it does not do so – not only will Republicans lose ground in the 2014 midterms; the Democratic presidential candidate in 2016 will be victorious as well.
While Democrats and their lapdogs in the media will scream like bloody hell that Obama won the election and therefore, a “mandate” – and that Republicans are once again guilty of “gridlock,” Republicans must remember that “gridlock” or “obstructionism” is in fact, governing - by blocking a liberal agenda. Besides, the liberal media will work tirelessly against Republicans anyway. Abandoning conservative values and principles would only serve to alienate more Republican voters – and rile up the Tea Party in the process. Being shot at from both directions is a luxury the Republican Party cannot afford as it looks to the future.
Think about it. The continued changing demographics over the next four years will favor the Democrats even more. Rather than panic and abandon its conservative values in an attempt to steal a few percentage points from the Democrats by pandering to socially liberal and moderate voters, the GOP must work to reinforce and energize its base. It must also learn from the Democrats – and build an effective ground game in order to get more conservatives to the polls. After all, hundreds of millions of dollars spent on campaign ads and Mitt’s strong performance in the debates – at the end of the day – had little if any impact on the outcome. Besides, pro-abortion voters, blacks, the LGBT crowd and 75% of Hispanics already have a home in the Democrat Party; they’re not going anywhere. It’s the conservative base that the Republicans tend to leave homeless when it most matters. That must change if the GOP is to remain a viable alternative.
And finally, a note to the conservative Republicans and Libertarians who sat out the election because Mitt Romney wasn’t Ronald Reagan or Ron Paul: Nice job. While you stubbornly (and selfishly) insisted on staying home because Romney was neither Reagan nor Paul, you ended up as stooges of the Democrats; accomplices in assuring four more years of bigger government, massive tax increases, the institutionalization of ObamaCare and two or three more liberal judges on SCOTUS. Feel good? While you may feel good about yourselves for standing on your “principles,” your short-sightedness helped hand the election – and America – to the socialist. Congratulations – maybe you’ll all get “Thank you” cards from Barack Obama.
We must stick to our principles, folks. If not, the Democrats and the liberal media will have us right where they want us: in the losers’ column. Again. And again.