First, politics is a cyclical sort of an endeavor. Every four years or so, pundits everywhere ask questions of the losing party, and there is no shortage of doom and gloom regarding the losers. Each party has been left for dead by so called experts more times than anyone can count. So count on this...the Republican Party will rise again. Here is what they need to do to make this rise happen sooner rather than later.
1) The leadership needs to be competent and held accountable.
According to most polling, the overwhelming reason for the Republican's losses in both 2006 and 2008 could be qualified by such adjectives as corruption, incompetence, or by the phrase "losing their way". From 2001-2005, the party that was supposed to be the party of small government and fiscal discipline presided over the biggest expansion of government since the Great Depression. In that time, Duke Cunningham went to jail and Tom Delay got indicted. It was hard to vote for the party of small government and fiscal discipline when they governed with increases in spending, corruption, and government.
When the party governs in a way totally opposite of the way its principles are built on, the blame must rest in the leadership of the party. Denny Hastert, the main culprit, is gone, but the swamp hasn't been drained fully just yet. John Boehner was in a leadership position throughout and he's been the leader since 2007. Rather than backing the likes of Eric Cantor and Mike Pence when the issue of the bailout came up, he gave the bailout a lukewarm endorsement. Furthermore, despite having Congress receiving single digit approval ratings, his party, the minority party, lost about 30 seats.
Mitch McConnell has been head since 2007. Despite Harry Reid and the Democratic Senate receiving single digit approval ratings, it was the Democrats that gained as many as 9 seats.
Most importantly, it was the leadership of the RNC, NRSC, and NRHC that must be held accountable. The President wasn't on the ballot. The incompetent Congress, lead by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, were. Yet, it was the Republican Party held accountable for the incompetence. That lies directly at the feet of all those that created the national strategy for this campaign. I am glad to hear about the line up of potential leaders for the RNC. Whether it be Newt Gingrich, Michael Steele or Fred Thompson, any of them can finally be the face of the RNC that will be able to verbalize the Conservative principles that used to be synonymous with the party.
In any case, leadership must be competent and it must be held accountable. Getting crushed at the ballot box is not all right. The leadership can't keep their posts following such a crushing. This is exactly what happened following the 2006 elections. If it happens again, 2010 will be no better than 2008.
2) Return to Conservative principles
I am amused and puzzled by folks like Christie Todd Whitman that think the answer is to moderate the party. A moderate Republican Party is the Democratic Party lite. If someone wants to vote for liberal ideas, they will vote for a party that is all the way liberal, the Democratic Party.
What the party needs to do is make distinctions, then get out everywhere and not be afraid to debate those distinctions. Here is an example of the problem. We all know what Obama's tax proposal and proposal for health care are. Does anyone know what McCain's proposals on each are? That's the problem. The Republicans have plenty of great small government, free market ideas for revitalizing the economy, health care, and for the financial services sector. First, far too often, they have backed big government programs like No Child Left Behind, prescription drug, and the bailout. Second, the party has very few effective messengers. Ronald Reagan was called the great communicator and the benefit of his communication abilities is immeasurable.
The party needs someone with some sort of good communication skills. (Reagan was after all one of a kind) That's where a Michael Steele, Newt Gingrich, or Fred Thompson could become an effective voice for the Conservative principles the party used to have.
The party needs a new Contract with America a la Newt Gingrich. The party needs to put again in writing what they stand for: small government, border security, free markets, lower taxes, and winning in Iraq and beyond. Unless the public can see what they stand for, no one will know.
3) Embrace the media culture don't whine about it.
We all know the MSM favors the Democrats something like four to one. We all know this isn't fair. We all know that this blatant bias costs votes. So what? Constantly whining about doesn't get any of these votes back.
Here's what I know. First, the MSM media is unbelievably biased. Second, the MSM drives the story by what they cover not what they say about it. Third, the media structure is totally fragmanted. What does all of this mean? It means that while the Democrats have it easier, the Republicans can use the media effectively for their own benefit.
First, the MSM is not the only place to get your message out. The Republicans have plenty of outlets from Fox News, talk radio, Youtube, the blogs, etc. Second, the MSM is full of egotistical blowhards and they can easily be manipulated. Did anyone notice how in the beginning of October there was three days when the lead story was Bill Ayers? That's because for a couple of days the McCain campaign effectively manipulated the media so that they drove a recycled story.
We all know that the New York Times won't lead with any story that even has a snow ball's chance in hell of hurting the Democrats. So what? By 2010, more people will read this blog than the New York Times. The MSM is terribly biased not only in how the cover a story but also what they cover. The MSM is also quickly losing influence. There are plenty of media sources that can start a story so that it reaches the mainstream. Drudge has no problem running with just about any story. Talk radio has been the start of plenty of media firestorms. Even the blogs have started plenty of stories like the fake docs of Bush in the Guard. Even Youtube has been the starting point for several media stories. The point is if Republicans have a story to tell all they need to do is find the right outlet to tell it. If there's a story of Democratic incompetence and corruption and the MSM refuses to cover it, Laura Ingraham, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, Drudge will all be happy to hear the details. If necessary a Republican can make a Youtube video. If a story is worthwhile, there are plenty of ways for it to reach the folks.
4) Embrace the internet
Nowhere was the disparity in the two parties more striking than on the internet. Barack Obama made his website the center of everything. He created an online community and a way to fundraise. The McCain campaign's website was nearly non existent. Unless the Republicans embrace and figure out how to effectively use the internet, they will continue to get crushed. We live in the age of mass emails, links, and web downloads. The Republicans must be effective at all of them or they won't survive.
No one needs to reinvent the wheel here. Allow for users to be able to blog and comment on RNC sites and other sites like it. Furthermore, have an able moderator of said sites that can turn blogs into a good discussion. Announce events on these sites and use the sites so that folks from all over the country can coordinate attendance at major events. Finally, encourage your heavy hitters to come and blog on major Republican leaning sites like Redstate, Townhall, Little Green Footballs, and Powerline.
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