Why the Republican Party Lost
Now that the election has concluded, I think it is prudent to ask why the Republican Party lost. It’s obvious that Mitt Romney tried to campaign very hard to win but the Democrats put time and effort into where it mattered: grassroots organizing. It was the voter turn out effort the Obama campaign had in place since 2009 that helped him grab the Oval Office. Also, statements about abortion on part of candidates (like Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin) definitely cost the Republican Party control of the U.S. Senate since it gave credence to the Democrat’s claim that Republicans are conducting a War on Women.
The GOP was handed a golden opportunity this year and (to be perfectly blunt) they blew it. With the population still overwhelmingly opposed to the Democrat’s health care law, Republican candidates made little effort to make it a national issue. If they had and outlined a five to ten additional proposals for their candidates to run on as part of a unified effort (like was done with the Contract with America in 1994), the Republicans would be in charge of both Houses of Congress and Mitt Romney would be President.
However, the last thing the GOP needs to return to is the mindset that it will only be an opposition political party, the same attitude the Party seemed to have before grabbing control of Congress in 1994. With House Speaker John Boehner nixing a joint Congressional committee to investigate the President’s role in the Benghazi incident, his capitulation on taxes and Obamacare leads me to conclude the Party might be doing so. I do hope that Boehner’s moves are pragmatic as evidenced by Grover Norquist’s nod toward the Speaker’s recent stances on the tax issue.
The silver lining is that the Democrats sacrificed Congressional control in order to win the White House. The fact that Republicans have a large amount of sway when it comes to Congressional redistricting will enable the GOP to hold on to the House and potentially lay the groundwork for taking back the Senate. The Tea Party gained two members in the U.S. Senate and most of the Tea Party Caucus members in the U.S. House were re-elected. This leads me to believe Boehner’s willingness to compromise on issues (like taxes) are symbolic at best.
Despite Obama’s re-election, there are two more lawsuits against Obamacare that could blow a huge hole in the law should either of them be successful. It is also looking like House Republicans will repeal the Democrats’ healthcare law piecemeal, respectfully. For example, a medical device tax used to finance the law will soon go into effect resulting in devices company executives are beginning to lobby for its repeal. Republican Governors are refusing to enact insurance exchanges in their respective states. Consequently, this puts the expense and effort of setting up exchanges for states that refuse to set them up on the federal Health and Human Services Department making implementation of Obamacare overall much more difficult.
Despite the lack of change on Capitol Hill and in the Oval Office, the coming months in terms of negotiations on budgets and taxes will be very interesting. Ultimately, the reason why Republicans lost wasn’t just due to a lack of an election strategy but also because of their neglecting a coherent, unified message which is the result of a lack of firm principles. A philosophy grounded in individual rights uncompromising in the defense of the individual against the state, unfortunately, will be a means but not the ends of Congressional and even legislative Republicans. On the surface the Republican Party is becoming more secular as time goes by but the basis of conservatism is still one based on religion and sacrificing man to the greater glory of God as evidenced by the Party’s continued opposition to abortion rights and gay marriage.
Time will tell if the drubbing the Party took at the ballot box November 6th will force the GOP to do some soul searching in terms of not only remaining a national party but if Republicans are truly serious in their attempts at change. Their activities have given new meaning to the label of the Republicans being The Stupid Party since their mishaps are allowing The Evil Party (i.e. Democrats) to implement their goals of destroying America. The legacy of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan is one of a libertarian vision of America which is one based on minimizing the power of the state and maximizing individual rights. It would do the Republican Party well to pay heed to the lessons of the past on the part of Goldwater and Reagan as well as what Newt Gingrich did to help the GOP win Congress in 1994 and apply them to today.