It’s the question everyone will ask at some point today whether you’re a Republican, Democrat, or otherwise.
For the Democrats the question pertains to dealing with a House of Representatives strengthened by Republican gains. How do they pass legislation? Bi-partisan compromise hasn’t exactly been the hallmark of the Obama administration and there’s no reason to believe he’ll be any more open to GOP ideas in a second term with no accountability.
Average citizens, regardless of their partisan shades, have to be wondering what the plan is. President Obama never really outlined one in his campaign (either of them), so it’s a valid question to wonder what kind of actual policy agenda this administration will pursue with four more years.
One Forbes columnist suggested that this was the best Obama’s policies could make the economy and that our sluggish economic growth could actually get worse, not better, over the next four years. There’s strong evidence to support the idea that so-called “Obamanomics” are not the answer, and I wonder if the American people are prepared to see how ravaged the American marketplace becomes when taxes are raised on the middle and top earners, as well as businesses, not to mention the shackles of ObamaCare and lack of a deficit reduction plan as it affects both domestic and global markets.
In other words, if you thought it was bad now, wait until Obama doubles down on his failed policies of trickle up poverty and trickle down government.
Perhaps the most interesting post-mortem to consider today is the Republican party. The New York Times actually had a thoughtful piece on where the party goes from here. In it, they point out a few obvious truths: the Grand Old Party will not be grand for long if it cannot attract more women, Latinos and other minority voters in the coming elections.
But just like there can be no mandate for the President with such a narrow popular vote victory (he beat John McCain by 10 million votes…he had a mandate in 2008), what indication do Republicans have to move toward the middle? They expanded in the House, expanded their number of GOP governors and if not for a handful of ill-timed rape comments (remember Akin was dominating his race in Missouri), they would have at least held in the Senate.
Republican’s response to the left’s progression further from center was to react in kind. The Tea Party offers a glimpse of that. But if you look at some of the figures closely from the election, particularly in the swing states Romney lost, libertarian candidate Gary Johnson was getting 2-4% of the vote.
Those are mostly young, fiscally conservative, limited government social moderates. That’s what libertarianism is, but those voters want to vote for a candidate who actually has a chance to win. They want to see someone who has principles that reflect what they believe. The Republican party used to have that, used to have a chance to win states like Washington and Oregon and California, not have the election be a foregone conclusion by 11 p.m. EST.
Mitt Romney won over plenty of independents, but not nearly enough moderates. Ronald Reagan won a landslide re-election by winning fiscally conservative Democrats. To this day, many of those people refer to themselves as Reagan Democrats.
When it comes to economics, I truly believe this country is still a center right country. There are far more fiscal conservatives than progressive liberals. But on social issues like gay marriage, the Tea Party and the evangelical right is behind the times.
Women care about social issues more than men, and minority voters don’t want to have a party that caters to rich people.
Now, the left and the media have helped paint the GOP, in many cases unfairly, as a party strictly of the rich white man. They project this aura of intolerance, as if Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan were going to start arresting women for trying to get birth control pills and executing those who dared get an abortion.
That’s not what the GOP looks like, but honestly, there’s a reason their party identification seems to have stopped growing: as one analyst put it last night “They’re the Mad Men party in a Modern Family world.”
This was always going to be a beauty contest and Obama’s ideas were shinier and sparklier. As one conservative blogger put it the GOP, “fought an ideological battle when they were fighting an American Idol contest.”
I can’t blame Mitt Romney for his campaign because I thought he ran a good campaign, much better than McCain in 2008. If Mitt had the kind of working class cred that his running mate Paul Ryan had, I think this would have been a different election in a lot of ways.
But the Republican party can’t be the party of intransigence and out-dated worldviews. It was Lincoln who freed the slaves and Eisenhower who demanded that schools integrate. The Republican party is, historically, the party of tolerance and social change.
It was, for the last century, the party of the the intelligentsia, not Sarah Palin.
Low taxes is still a winning idea with the American people, so is limited government. That’s why you saw Mitt Romney time and again win on issues like the economy, deficit reduction, and the debt.
People trust Republicans when it comes to money, but when it comes to social change, that’s just not who the party is anymore, and if they have any hope of winning elections in the next decade, that needs to change.
I don’t mean just gay marriage. Entitlement reform, real reform that includes means testing and responsible spending. Education reform where every student, even those most impoverished, have a voice. Barack Obama and the Democratic party never speak of the poor or to the poor, only at them. The Republicans have an opportunity to be a voice of change in their lives, to lift up their spirits through the insistance that by making schools better and cracking down on criminals to make neighborhoods safer, they can have a better life.
Immigration reform has to be at the top of the list for Republicans, particularly a party with strong Latino leaders like Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. The Hispanic vote is on a tee for the GOP because of their strong allegiance to their Catholic heritage and a commitment to hard work leading to personal prosperity.
It’s unthinkable to me that a party based on limited government, low taxes, and personal freedoms wouldn’t appeal to a culture of people who came to America hoping to work their way to a better life. They should want to keep what they worked so hard to create and not want the government taking from them.
To me, that is the silver lining of this election. Mitt Romney even with Paul Ryan was never my choice to lead a cultural revolution in America. But the GOP does have leaders whom I would gladly support, including Paul Ryan, but extending to men like the aforementioned Rubio, Cruz and a host of reformers like Scott Walker, Nikki Haley and Susana Martinez.
There are bright stars in the Republican party capable of tackling the challenges this country faces. The only question now is, how poorly equipped will America be to tackle those challenges after four more years of Obamanomics, ObamaCare, and Obama failures?
Luckily, we only have to wait two years to vote again and you can be sure the faces in the GOP will be different by then.