Thursday, November 6, 2008

Why the Republican party is a mess and how to fix it

Anyone in the United States who has paying attention knows what happened on Nov. 4 -- the Republican party took a flat beating.

Yes, the Republicans lost the presidency and lost seats in the House and Senate. Ah, but it didn't stop at the national level. Republicans in state legislatures, county and city elections throughout the country took a whipping.

And the Republican party deserved exactly what it got.

That's a hard thing to admit as I've affiliated myself with that party since I first saw Ronald Reagan speak in St. Louis in 1980 when I was 11-years-old. My admiration of Reagan grew when I saw him speak in Little Rock in 1984.

Sadly, the party that Reagan reinvigorated back then is weak and woefully out of touch with voters. The party has no focus and its candidates seem uncertain of what, exactly, they do believe. How did we get here from there?

The answer is pretty simple -- the Republican Party has turned its back on the core values that made the party so relevant. And that's a shame as those values -- those ideas -- are the very things that won votes.

At this point in time, it's hard to even define what a Republican is anymore. The thrashing the party took, then, can be viewed as an opportunity. It's time for we Republicans to take a good, hard look at ourselves, figure out what went wrong and what needs to be done to fix it.

Here are a few suggestions:

1. The Democrats won and they got their ObamaNation (heh, heh!) Accept it. In other words, don't run around acting like Democrats for the next four years. Sniveling whiners are irritating, and doubly so when they're crying because their side didn't win an election. Remember what happened almost immediately after Bush won in 2000? Yes, quite a few Democrats moped around claiming that "Bush wasn't their president" and they complained for four years.

When John Kerry was running in 2004, we had Democrats threatening to move to Canada and some of them committed suicide after Bush was declared the winner of that election. Instead of moving to Canada, the Democrats who made that threat chose the option we all knew they would -- staying put and griping for another four years.

Folks, this is a democracy. That means your side won't always win. And, guess what? That's just part of being an American and thank God for that. We want two parties competing for votes. Hopefully, we all understand that one-party governments tend to establish such lovely things as terror filled police states and use the military to crush any opposition. So, losing an election isn't that bad when considered in that context.

We don't have to like Obama being in office, but we don't have to go around outraged and looking like we're sucking on a lemon for the next four years, either. We don't need to hate our government, pout and hope for a rotten economy or war casualties because our candidate didn't get in office.

Besides, there are actually some good things that came out of this election. First of all, more whites voted for Obama than for Clinton back in 1992 or 1996. That's what we call progress on racial issues. Second, Obama reaffirms that anyone with drive and talent can become president. Here was a fellow with a troubled background (abandoned by his father early in life, raised by his grandparents since he was 10-years-old) and he overcame all of that to become president. Third, we're rid of Bush. Everyone should be thrilled that egg sucking bastard is just about out of the White House.

By the way, feel free to remind those Democrats who say it is now time to get behind our president and work out our problems together of what rotten sports they were during the Bush presidency. That'll make for a few minutes of fun at the very least.

2. Conservative ideas win votes. It's time to relearn what those are. One of the major problems of the Republican party is that conservatives aren't in charge anymore. What's the difference between a tax-and-spend Democrat and a borrow-and-spend Republican? Not a whole lot. Both expand the size of government and Republicans ought to fight against that. The fact that a Republican president and a Republican senator who wanted to be president pushed for a $700 billion bailout for the mortgage industry is sickening (particularly when you consider the blasted red Chinese are among the huge investors who bought the bonds allowing for that bailout).

Going back to core values such as low taxes, a small federal government, adherence to the 10th Amendment (remember that one? It's the one that reserves those powers to the states that are not expressly granted to the federal government) and an emphasis on individual liberties are the types of issues that inspire people. Republicans should also remind people that the Constitution was conceived as a way to defend citizens from the government and, as such, is to be interpreted strictly. If the feds want more power and its not granted under the Constitution, it's time to go through the amendment process, right?

If we did have a Republican in office who did support the notion the Constitution protected citizens from the government and that individual liberties are precious, would we have to contend with junk like the Patriot Act? If you think that piece of legislation was a good idea, ask yourself this -- you may trust the Bush administration with the ability to collect information on American citizens, but do you trust Obama? Keeping the kind of power afforded the government under the Patriot Act is the very type of thing that small-government conservatives should fight.

Also, party-wide support of a non-interventionist foreign policy is something else people will rally behind. What's a non-interventionist foreign policy? One that encourages friendly relations and free trade with nations and reserves military action for those times when our nation is clearly in peril. Folks, war is expensive and we get our soldiers killed. It's not to be taken lightly and should only been used when there is a clear threat to vital national interests.

Don't think I'm talking just about Iraq here, kids. I'm talking about Bill Clinton's little jaunt in Bosnia, too. When a threat to the U.S. is clearly defined, the nation should gear up to crush it swiftly and without mercy. If that threat is vague, then our military ought to stay home.

3. Identify those issues that are important and address them. Do you think the average voter really gives a damn about abortion? No, they're mostly worried right now about finding jobs or keeping the ones they have. They're worried about their retirement portfolios and our dependence on foreign oil.

Why, then, does the Republican Party spend so much time addressing issues like abortion? Does that mean it's not an important issue? No. But it does mean voters have more pressing issues in mind. Identify those issues, focus on them and come up with some specific, realistic ways to deal with them.

People want to vote for someone rather than against someone, right? A solid candidate can present those ideas that will excite voters and get them behind him. Why did Obama beat Hillary Clinton in the primaries and McCain in the election? His supporters voted for him, while a lot of us Republicans were simply voting against Obama. Obama's supporters were energetic and enthusiastic, but the same can't be said of a lot of us who were voting for McCain.

4. Credibility is important. Both major political parties rely on making promises they don't intend to keep. Bill Clinton, for example, promised a middle-class tax cut back in 1992 as a way of convincing people to vote for him. After getting in office, his toadies were running around claiming he never made that promise at all.

Republicans can't really condemn Clinton because our candidates are out doing the same thing. Let's take a look at Mike Huckabee, for example. Before he ran in the Republican primary, of course, he was governor of Arkansas.

Prior to his last term, he pushed for the elimination on the sales tax on food in Arkansas. That got people excited and the popularity of that notion helped win him another term as governor here.

Shortly after he was elected, he decided to campaign against an initiative to get rid of the sales tax on food (he said we just couldn't afford it -- knowledge he certainly had even while pushing for it). It is pitiful when our candidates engage in such behavior. If a Republican candidate makes a promise, he'd better be ready to make good on it.

5. Get rid of the bums. There's been some talk about Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee being the future of the Republican Party. No. God no. Hell no!

We've had two Bushes in office so far and they both sucked. We don't need a third. Huckabee, meanwhile, spends money like a Democrat and just isn't trustworthy.

The party needs to be led by conservatives and truthful ones, at that.

6. Don't be afraid of third parties. Should the Republican Party refuse to return to those core values and continue down the path of catering to corporate interests, policing the planet, spending money like drunken sailors on shore leave and virtually ignoring the needs of the middle class, it's not a party worth supporting.


Da Old Man said...

Love your ideas and I'm all about a 3rd party.
Bring back the Whigs or the Populists. Call them whatever you want, we need a strong conservative 3rd party. And as you say, no difference between the 2 right now. They both spend like like drunken sailors on leave.

Furkidsmom said...

It's pretty sad that these two candidates were the best our Country has to offer. I agree, the GOP needs to get it's act together and SOON...2010 is going to be here before we know it. said...

The McCain staffers attempting to destroy Sarah Palin is a prime example of the GOP being in total disarray.

Throughout the campaign, McCain denounced these things when it was done to Obama or the Democrats. But now that it is being done to Palin by his own people, he is nowhere to be found.

I want John McCain, whom I did not vote for in the primaries, to once again "reach across the aisle" - and stay there. He is proof that Big Tent politics does NOT work for Conservatives.

Republican moderates, please leave the party now and don't let the door knob hit you in the ass.

McCain not being elected is a blessing in disguise. It took the Jimmy Carter years of inflation, long gas lines and country demoralization to bring about the Reagan Revolution.

Conservatives need to stand up, stop being ashamed of what they believe in, and fight to take back this country.

Yes We Can Reestablish Conservatism!

Obama Supporters Get Their Man

GumbyTheCat said...

You know my stance... so I'll just say "Hear, hear".

I will add that so far, not many people are taking your advice about not acting like the Democrats did for eight years with Bush. I see "Obama is not MY president" - and much much worse - all the time now. The electorate is in godawful shape.

Don said...

I will never refer to Obama as president. He's a socio-Marxist, and I won't support him-period!
As far as the Republicans? To hell with them too. The future of the 'pubs is not with Bush's at all.
I'd support the likes of J.C. Watts and/or Bobby Jindal as the new leaders of a lost party.

lala said...

Here are the points I'll agree with (and I best leave it at that)

Yes to a third party...desperately needed in this country. A viable third party.

and this is one of the most insightful points than anyone can make and all should listen to, and hear...

They're mostly worried right now about finding jobs or keeping the ones they have. They're worried about their retirement portfolios and our dependence on foreign oil.

Honestly, if the real John McCain of 2000 had shown up for this election, things would have turned out differently. But he didn't.

The Natural State Hawg said...

da old man -- Yep, I'm at the point where I either want to see the Republican party get back to its conservative roots or for another party to emerge. I'm not sure who the hell is in charge of the party anymore, but conservatives certainly aren't.

furkidsmom -- It is sad, isn't it? We deserve a hell of a lot better than what we got.

Paul -- That is sickening, isn't it? Th election is over. It's time to lay off Palin. I don't mind moderates a bit, but we want moderates around who agree with the general principals which conservatives hold dear (small government, low taxes and etc.)

Nice twist on a phrase I've been sick of hearing for months, too!

Gumby -- I can understand a little outrage over the election initially, but I hope it doesn't last for the one (or, God forbid, two) terms Obama is in office.

Sustained whining gets old quick. I got tired of it from the left around February of 2001.

Don -- Well, there's a difference between supporting and griping all the time. This election was a clear sign that one of two things needs to happen -- the Republican party needs to return to its conservative roots or conservatives need to support another party.

Interesting choices for future leadership, by the way. I wouldn't complain about either one. It's time to shed ourselves of any member of the Bush family. 12 years of running the party into the ground is enough.

lala -- Heh. Just two measly points, huh? You've at least got to admit my brand of conservatism beats the hell out what the Bush family and their toadies have come up with.

You've hit on the main failing of the Republicans -- a failure to adequately address the things that people are concerned about. That kind of thing ruined them.

You're right about that 2000 McCain. I didn't recognize the guy who was running this year.

Mrs. Mecomber said...

GREAT POST!!! I'm stumbling it. Yu are so right, especially points 2, 5, 6. The GOP needs a nitty-gritty, thrifty, optimistic candidate. Oh yeah, and there's that thing about portecting, preserving, and defending the Constitution... which seems to have been forgotten in the mix (and which Reagan resurrected, btw).

Why not Ron Paul? The GOP was IDIOTIC to marginalize him. Thus, they deserve everything they get.

Mrs. Mecomber said...

Oh I just read in the comments someone mentioened JC Watts!! Be still my heart!!! He's a great man.

The Natural State Hawg said...

mrs. mecomber -- You are exactly right -- if we had brains in our heads, we would have nominated Ron Paul.

Like J.C. Watts, do you? He's OK for an Okie ;)

Matt said...

Hawg, this is a most excellent post. You really hit the nail on the head in a number of instances. I, too, think the Republican party has completely lost its way. Your assessment of the GOP abandoning it's core values is spot on. The GOP leaders are guilty of doing exactly what drove the Democratic party out of favor in the 70s and 80s - they forgot what the party stood for (or they just abandoned it).

I have been all for having more than two viable parties in this country for some time no, but I would love to see it go one step further. I would like to see the Conservatives split off from the Republicans and the Democrats split off from the Liberals/Far Left. It is blatantly apparent that we are in dire need of more choices of candidates to choose from to vote for for the office of president.

Also, I think it is way too early to start the Bobby Jindal talk, but J. C. Watts could be a possibility. Obviously, Palin will remain a strong choice for many, as will Romney. However, I hope we have a few more quality candidates emerge between now and 2012. Candidates who embody the Reagan spirit and drive. We sure need them.

Congratulations on a great post!!

The Natural State Hawg said...


Thanks! I'd been thinking about that one for a couple of days. "Conservative" has become almost a dirty word, and that's because this current group of Republicans has absolutely ruined it.

If the Republicans get back to the old adage that "government isn't the solution; it's the problem," the GOP will become a force again.

If they don't wise up, it's time to start seriously looking at third parties. Constitution Party, anyone?

Glad you enjoyed the post. I had a great time writing it... said...

Great points, Hawg! I also agree with Don - I would LOVE J.C. Watts to head the conservative movement.

I knew way before the campaigning got started that the Democrat candidate would most likely win the Presidency. The entire nation was fed up with Bush and the whole Republican party. When I saw McCain was going to be our nominee, I pretty much knew it was over. Then, POW! McCain announced Palin as his running mate. Suddenly, I thought Republicans actually had a chance! But even Palin couldn't seal the deal with McCain not willing to fight for the Presidency. Heck, McCain defended Obama more than he confronted him. And McCain sure didn't do himself any favors by jumping on the bailout boat instead of siding with the American people.

And don't get me started on whiners. Obama is our President - get over it already. For the love of our country, we should pray for Obama every day, asking God to lead him and also asking God to protect our country and our soldiers.

What we as conservatives need to do is keep our heads up, our eyes open, and get ready for 2010 and 2012.

Clark said...

Great post, Hawg. Some of your commenters don't seem to have gotten the point that the social "conservative" agenda is one of the problems that the Republican party faces and not the reason for it's existence. Using abortion as a litmus test limits your choice of candidates. Energizing a base with a narrow and backward looking agenda turns away the undecideds and independents that decide elections.

Just a friendly suggestion from the other side of the aisle, where we finally figured out that gay rights isn't the best centerpiece for a campaign, either.

JD at I Do Things said...

We do not hold the same political views, but I ALWAYS enjoy reading your political posts because they're intelligent and thoughtful. If more people would express themselves as you do, I think each side might understand the other a little better.

JD at I Do Things

tata said...

I consider myself a moderate - quite middle of the road whilst leaning left a tad. I love the seemingly now-antiquated Republican idea of small government. I want more than two party choices (but I agree that two is better than one!). I also like the concept of keeping a focus on the Constitution.

But what I'd like to see more than anything with regard to politics is the way it used to be back in the day: we'd get some kick-ass General out of the service for a few years to run our shit. Fuck all this career-politicians garbage. I don't trust any of 'em. Like a great bumpersticker once said "Republicans and Democrats: Two heads, one snake."

ImitationAngel said...

You really made some good points. The Republican party could really use some change in order to be a decent part again. Although I'm not a Republican I can agree that there are some serious issues here. You offered some good suggestions. Have you thought about sending it on to the Republican party?

Allure said...

Some committed suicide when Bush won??? Really? I didn't know that. You are kidding, right?

Thanks for being so brave sharing a piece of your mind to your readers.

The Natural State Hawg said...

Laura -- I'm with you on all of that. Particularly the part about 2010. The Republicans need to learn what conservatives believe in order to become competitive again.

Should they refuse to do so, well, another party might...

Clark -- Good analogy. I can't help but think the Republicans will figure it all out soon enough. I'm no fan of abortion, but I'd get more enthusiastic about a candidate who advocates low taxes and a smaller and more constitutionally limited government than someone who would promise to do away with abortion.

A lot of voters feel the same way, I'm certain.

JD -- I appreciate that, and I'll also mention that all of the hostility coming from both sides of the aisle is ridiculous. Why? Because both sides need each other, when you get down to it. Democrats and Republicans should, in theory, push each other to compete for votes, thus giving each side the chance to redefine what it stands for.

Political stagnation is miserable. Just ask the folks in Cuba.

Tata -- I'll agree with that, considering how I can't stand career politicians. Moreover, I'd be inclined to vote for any "kick-ass" retired general who promised to "run our shit." What's not to love about that?

Imitationangel -- I really haven't. I'm just a voter with a political science degree. I don't have much value except as a rabble-rouser, I'm afraid...

Allure -- I wish I were kidding. Some people take politics too seriously, seemingly.

That's a pity...