Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What were they thinking?

Elephants supposed to “never forget”, but do they ever learn? They didn’t learn much from being defeated in 2008 [see http://citizenoversight.blogspot.com/2008/11/perdition.html  ]

The 2012 elections provide a new cornucopia of lessons learned. Only time will tell if any of them sink in. Here are just a few of them…

Getting out the Vote
Project ORCA was a dismal failure. It was supposed to either supplement or supplant local Republican GOTV efforts. It did neither. Poorly trained and clueless ORCA workers siphoned resources away from real voter efforts. Worse – ORCA was an ill-conceived band-aid for the decades-long decline of Republican precinct capabilities.

Democrats figured out years ago that early voting would be a boon to their cause. Republican leaders hung onto getting out their vote on Election Day – ceding up to thirty days of voting opportunities to the Democrats. Worse – if Republican rhetoric is to be believed – that their supporters work for a living and are family focused – then why assume that these busy working people will either get up early to stand in long voter lines before going to work, or delay being with their families after work to stand in long voter lines? OCRA not only shrunk GOP voting efforts to one day – it shrunk it to the first and last hours of the voting day. No wonder 3 million less Republicans voted in 2012 than 2008.

Voter Fraud
There is always some voter fraud. This happens in the original voter registration or in counting the votes. Republicans chose to ignore these facts to focus on possible irregularities during actual voting. Countless days and weeks of activism, along with mountains of political capital, was spent on solving the one part of the process that worked. Imagine if all this Republican effort was spent on early voting. It also gave the Main Stream Media (MSM) an easy and ongoing target to pummel the GOP.

War on Women/Gays/Science/Privacy
No matter how much conservative talk radio and Fox News denies it, there are large swaths of Republican activists and elected officials, especially at the state level, who yearn for the 10th Century over the 21st. It is a fundamental contradiction to real conservatism and Republicanism to selectively promote unwarranted and aggressive government intervention into personal lives. You cannot assert there is either no or only a limited role for government in society and then create a huge “BUT” flashing in neon lights for imposing narrow theocratic-based dogma.

Originally, faith-based activists within the conservative and Republican movements stood for getting liberal dogma out of schools, homes, and churches. Sometime in the late 1980s things flipped around to replacing left-wing onerous government interventions with right wing ones. Outbursts by Republican Senate candidates were not isolated incidents. They were a mere sampling of a tragically obtuse thread of anti-intellectual totalitarianism that undermines both the movement and the party.

It is long overdue for Republican and conservative leaders to have their own “Sister Souljah” moment with fanatical theocrats. This moment is named for the pivotal Bill Clinton speech where he sealed-off racial hatred in rap music from mainstream public discourse. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sister_Souljah_moment

Bush Legacy
The Bush dynasty diverted the conservative movement and the Republican Party into an agnostic pandering abyss. [See my earlier post http://citizenoversight.blogspot.com/2012/06/wrong-track.html  ]

Bush 41 purged conservatives from the Executive branch, raised taxes, expanded government, bungled the end of the Cold War, bungled Iraq, and undermined everything Reagan stood for. Why revere him?

Bush 43 turned conservativism and Republicanism into micro-targeted pandering mush. He bungled Afghanistan, launched a totally unnecessary and dilatory war in Iraq, reduced America’s influence in the rest of the world to fixate on Iraq, undermined civil liberties, and expanded government. Why revere him?

Conservatives and Republicans can and should revere true the leaders of our movement as timeless role models – Presidents Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Coolidge, Reagan; intellectual leaders Buckley, Goldwater, and countless other thinkers ranging back to the Enlightenment. None were perfect, and true independent thought requires critically assessing their legacies, but their writings, speeches, and actions will always remain the touch stones from which 21st Century conservatives and Republicans get their bearings.

A few words about Romney

Romney could have won. His flawed campaign was no where near the fool’s errand of McCain 2008. However, there were numerous opportunities lost and self-inflicted wounds that sank him.

No theme – the conventional wisdom was that 2012 had to be about Obama or Romney would lose. How many think 1980 was only about Carter? Americans in 2012 felt powerless. They were being harmed by an out of control economy. They feared a world spinning out of control. They no longer trusted an unaccountable government. Romney could have spoken to these issues, but didn’t.

Bain – What the federal government needs most are Bain-like teams tearing apart, rethinking, and restructuring every agency and program. Romney could have proudly asserted his value proposition of committing to this long overdue weeding of the federal garden. Instead, he ran from Bain and its positive impacts, ceding the field for his opponents to demonize his strongest credential. When pressed on cutting federal programs Romney opted for going after Big Bird instead of using the question to discuss $650 billion in annually documented waste and how his management background could do something real.

Rope a dope – Why did Romney allow Obama to carpet bomb him from April through August? This period of negative ads created a deficit that was almost insurmountable. Why didn’t Romney run ads about his saving the Olympic movement during the Olympics? Why did he make this historic accomplishment a pre-primetime throw-away at the National Convention? Why did it take a pre-convention Fox news interview at his home to finally show he was a normal human? It is sad that highly intelligent and successful Republican business people (Steve Forbes, Pete DuPont, and now Mitt Romney) cannot connect with the party of business. They should all go back and read about how successful utility tycoon Wendell Willkie became a folk hero during his presidential run in 1940.

Class warfare – Republicans chided Obama and the Democrats for fermenting class warfare. Why oh why then did Romney spew his own version of class warfare? “47%” was a gift that kept on giving to the MSM and the Democrats. First, who in their right mind today, thinks that in this world of smart phones anything they do or say outside of their own home will not be documented and shared if it is deemed stupid enough? The “47%” comment is the antithesis of the type of empowering and inclusive conservatism espoused by the late Rep. Jack Kemp. His world view was that everyone can and will become a conservative once they realize how the free market is in their best interest. This positive message has been drowned out by vapid negativity among the so-called conservative and Republican leaders.

2016 & Beyond
There remains a small hope that (1) Obama and the Democrats will overplay their hand, creating backlashes and opportunities, and (2) that the next generation of Republican leaders – Jindal, Christie, Martinez, Fallin, Haley, Rubio, and others at all levels of government, learn from the past while shaping the future.

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