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Where Do Republicans Go From Here?

If the Republicans couldn't beat 7.9 percent unemployment, rising taxes and debt, a lackluster housing market and a recent terrorist attack overseas, columnist Lisa Bigelow believes it's time for them to rethink their message to the electorate

 

You could see defeat in their faces on Fox News as the returns began rolling in.

Pennsylvania? “Fool’s gold.” Michigan? “That was a long shot, anyway.” Virginia? “It all depends on Fairfax County.” Florida? “It’s the voters in the I-4 corridor.”

And, of course, Ohio.

Indeed, only the brilliant, but reviled Republican strategist Karl Rove looked optimistic after 9 p.m.

At 10:30, my husband and I turned off the television, a persistent, sinking feeling in our collective gut. I woke at 1 a.m. and couldn’t resist grabbing my phone and loading Drudge.

Headline: “The Divided States of America.”

Sigh. So close. So close.

Naturally, sleep proved elusive as I pondered the meaning of the results. Although exit poll voters gave the edge on the economy to Romney, Obama still won. Women and minorities supported the president roundly, while white men, upper income voters, the religious right and other traditional conservative stalwarts supported Romney.

Of course, defeating an incumbent president is nearly impossible. But the fact that Republicans didn’t win in a landslide last Tuesday indicates the party of Lincoln has an elephant-sized case of head-in-the-sanditis.

Republican strategists will no doubt spend a lot more time analyzing this past election than I will. While I’m sure we’ll all hear tons about how GOP candidates need to do a better job getting their message out to Hispanics and middle-income moms, the problem isn’t the breadth of communication; it’s the communication itself.

I think Washington has a habit of underestimating the man (or woman) in the street. Voters get what the Republicans are saying. They just don’t like it.

That doesn’t mean they embrace the liberal agenda, either, as evidenced by the halfhearted endorsement of the Obama mandate. It just means that they found the reality of another Obama administration more tolerable than the idea of a Romney administration.

The long-held assumption that America is a center-right country is false. We’re center-center. We want compromise. And nobody, from the single mom waitress in Cuyahoga County to the hedge fund manager in New Canaan, wants to see the government waste taxpayer money.

Let’s not forget, the fact of the matter is George W. Bush spent money like a drunken sailor and left Obama with a big fat mess. It’s not as if the economy was plugging along nicely and Obama wrecked it. The ugly truth is the country has still not recovered from the Bush years. Voters recognized it. Republican leadership should, too.

But the common thread between all of the reasons voters chose Obama is the Republicans’ insistence on not accepting the reality of the shifting priorities of the American electorate.

When Romney shifted to the right on immigration that was a big mistake. Why? Although rounding up illegal immigrants and shipping them back home sounds great on paper, it is not a practical solution to our border problem. Developing a sensible amnesty program is and Hispanic voters noticed.

Maintaining a pro-life platform was an even bigger mistake and the right wing needs to accept America is never going to outlaw abortion. Women noticed and they're tired of it. Yes, I know no one even talked about overturning Roe v. Wade. If you don’t want an abortion, don’t get an abortion—but let others make their own choices. Voters believe that is the American way.

Romney also would have been better off taking credit for the truth of being the ideological father of Obamacare (and also for being pro-choice while leading Massachusetts). Standing up to the noisy far right, with whom northeastern and west coast voters do not identify, would have demonstrated courageous leadership. And though it would have made the GOP faithful red-faced in anger, it would have garnered the respect of voters. 

Finally, how refreshing would it have been to hear Romney say, “I think we should keep the Bush tax cuts. But healing a divided nation and making real progress will only be achieved through bipartisan legislation. That’s why I cannot release specific details now.

“I need the American people to give me a chance to sit down with our Democratic friends and work out a compromise that every party can be proud of. It may include entitlement cuts and higher revenues. But we won’t know how great our nation could be unless you elect me to prove it.”

Alas, it was not to be.

Alethiologist November 19, 2012 at 04:14 PM
After effectively barring conservative columnist Ann Coulter from speaking on campus last week, the Jesuit college Fordham University welcomed infanticide and bestiality advocate Peter Singer for a panel discussion on Friday. According to Fordham’s media relations website, Singer, a tenured Princeton bioethics professor, spoke from 4 to 6 p.m. in a panel the university promised “will provoke Christians to think about other animals in new ways.” Singer has long lamented the societal stigma against having sex with animals.
Yooper November 27, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Although we have different viewpoints, I call balls and strikes as I see them. For instance, this morning I heard Senators McCain, Graham, and Ayotte (sp) comment after their meeting with Ambassador Rice and was thoroughly disgusted with their partisan pettiness masquerading as patriotism when there are so many more important issues they could be dealing with.
Alethiologist November 28, 2012 at 10:22 AM
AZZ Are any of your comments, here or elsewhere, intended to help advance a rational point of view ?
Connecticut15 November 30, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Yooper - IT is critically important to learn how our Ambassador was given incorrect information from the White House apparently - since Petraeus and others have reaffirmed their intelligence was altered - and there was a cover up to keep the information from the public before an election? THis follows an terrible pattern of distortion and lack of transparency from this administration. How do we with any conscience endorse putting our citizens at risk under this type of management and lack of commitment in protecting our diplomats, our employees, our citizens abroad. A total lack of leadership. Just like kicking the can down the road wrt entitlement cuts. A total lack of leadership or worse.
Connecticut15 November 30, 2012 at 07:20 PM
So, freedom of speech, diversity of opinion only applies to bestiality and liberals. Any conservative is not included - inclusion only through exclusion. Makes total sense in this day when 1/4 of a million dollars equates to 1 million dollars per liberal perspectives. Nothing means what it should anymore....depends on what 'is' means.

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