Last night was the night for the weeping and gnashing of teeth. Today begins the honest truth. Our side needs a heart-to-heart.
What happened last night? It’s simple.
1. A Moderate Candidate
Let’s be frank about what happened: we nominated a moderate. We were told to accept it, unite, and move on. Don’t mistake me: Mitt Romney ran a better campaign than we’ve seen in some time and the GOTV coordination with the RNC was impressive. His desire to fix the country seemed heartfelt. We did all we could. We backed him as the strategy that stood the best chance of advancing our goals and we delivered on our end. Unfortunately, moderation doesn’t play well at the polls unless you’re a moderate Republican in northeastern states. The rest of America’s makeup is far different. I have no doubt that Romney would have done well, so much better than Obama in the White House, and he presented a plan for a better American. America just didn’t choose it.
I think “moderate” means something different to me than it does to some Republicans and even progressives. I’m not “moderate” on the power of the government. I’m extremely biased towards the Constitution. If not liking the EPA, the Fed, the UN, or a $14 trillion dollar debt due to out-of-control spending makes me “extreme,” then so be it, just know that it’s an inaccurate use of the term.
Those who blame social conservatives do so baselessly. Social conservatism wasn’t on the ballot last night. Moderation was. The GOP didn’t talk social issues, Democrats did. Democrats talked abortion, they talked #ladyparts, they talked same sex marriage. Not Republicans. These two factions need to hug out a way to coexist under the same tent.
Both the GOP and social conservatives have a massive problem with messaging. I can’t lay all of the blame at the feet of the Romney campaign because this is an institutionalized problem within the Republican party: the inability or fear of refining the message of liberty into a more attractive sell. Romney did as best he could, and better than many have but he was still out-spun by the media. I have said, as did my late friend Andrew Breitbart, that the fight this cycle is with the media. The media dropped all pretense of journalism and became an arm of the campaign. This will become even more blatant now. The response of conservatives should be to figuratively go to war with the media.
The GOP has a problem in countering media narratives. They run away from candidates over meaningless soundbites and have an inability to tell the media that they have minorities and women all throughout the party. Social conservatives also have a problem with messaging. Faith isn’t restrictive and should have the benefit of smart outreach which makes it appealing. If social issues are important to you and a big part of your platform, do them the justice of being prepared to speak about them succinctly. If not, you only hurt the very issues for which you claim to care.
Both sides, moderates and social conservatives, will engage in recriminations but must realize this truth: politically, one cannot survive without the other, not right now. Fight together or hang separately.
3. Voter Turnout
Republican voter turnout was less than it was in 2004 and 2008. John McCain took 60 million votes and Romney took 57 million votes. It was a battle of freedom vs free stuff. More people voted for Obama than Romney. They voted for his vision over Romney’s vision. The country is no longer culturally cohesive. Bad messaging does nothing to fix this.
Barack Obama won a very divided America in a very close race. The result isn’t so much a mandate as it is two very ticked off sides voting to thwart the other side’s agenda.
During the primaries, fighting is expected. It’s encouraged. We all benefit when people battle it out to select the best candidate, provided we remember that we all have to work together again after. Unfortunately, there were a few races where infighting played a role in defeat. One of those races was the Indiana senate race, Richard Mourdock verses Joe Donnelly. I watched as Dick Lugar supporters for months trashed the Republican candidate and this did hurt Mourdock in the end.
There were individuals who, due to unhappiness with the candidates represented, inadvertently worked against them. I’m more inclined to take seriously the criticisms of people who, instead of sitting on their backsides and complaining, actually took to the ground to change hearts and minds and work the culture to change the candidate. The candidate is a reflection of the people who voted for him. Someone has to vote and choose a candidate for us to have one. Too many people focus on the politics and not the culture. If you wait until an election cycle to change things, you’re too late. An election is merely a measurement of change. If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to check out my monologue on changing the culture.
5. Ground Game
It is very difficult to come out of a bitter primary and match your opponent when your opponent was shoring up his foundation while you fought it out in said primary. We vetted Mitt Romney better than the media vetted Barack Obama.
Now that you’re thoroughly depressed, it’s time to look at the bright side.
1. We Control The House
We control it and we even picked up seats. Democrats fell short in the senate of the 60 votes they need to implement Obama’s agenda without care. We retain the ability to slow the roll of legislative progressivism. Compromise isn’t compromise when the issue is modifying the enumerated powers of government. Compromise in that instance is surrender. I don’t want a country where everyone gets along and where everyone has to agree. We benefit the most when people fight to give us the best.
2. More Republican Governors
As the ballots are counted we will have picked up 32 governorships, a record unmatched since the 90s. The fight of the reform governor not only succeeded, it spread. This is the biggest and I believe most important story of this election. Governors have already stood their ground against the implementation of Obamacare and now the chance of more doing so has increase as a result of this election. Rick Perry is suing the EPA. Consider it a plan B in the offense against Obamacare.
3. No Clear Mandate
Barack Obama barely won the popular vote. The country is roughly divided 50-50. Congress is divided. There is no mandate, only gridlock.
4. We Live To Fight Another Day
I said this last night and it’s somewhat harsh, but accurate: those of you who want to take your balls and go home are demonstrating less resilience than our Founding Fathers. That’s not who you are, it’s not what America is, so buck up buttercups!
We have scored some small victories last night and that’s something on which we can build. Midterms will give us another shot at the senate in two years. Two years after that, the White House. This battle wasn’t going to begin and end in one election cycle. This will be a multi-generational fight. The Framers established our system of governance in such a way so that one election, not even two, can dismantle our republic.
There is still hope and still a battle to fight. Don’t squander your chances. Nurse your wounds and get back in the game.