Quotes of the day

posted at 11:02 pm on November 12, 2012 by Allahpundit

We were wrong.

We were wrong about the turnout.

We were wrong about the makeup of the electorate.

We were wrong about the advertising mix and message that would work.

We were wrong about the effectiveness of President Obama’s turnout mechanism.

The simple fact is Republicans spent more and achieved less than Democrats in 2012…

Some Republican analysts and strategists are rushing around with new explanations of what happened and what we must do.

The fact is less than an a week after the election they don’t know what happened and they can’t possibly know what we should do.

***

The Republican Party — which, by the way lost women to President Obama by 12 points — needs to run away from its archaic stance. Yes, object to abortion. Yes, work to make it rare. But move on: Abortion is here to stay. (And while you’re at it, GOP, it might just be time also to abandon that vaunted “abstinence-only” policy that has been such a dismal failure.)

Second, gay marriage. On this, simply — who cares? America 2012 has enormous problems. Is this really an issue that matters to — anyone? Christians, two men getting married doesn’t affect your marriage in any way. Get over it. The Republicans are on the wrong side of history on this issue, and Mr. Obama swept in millions of young voters by his tolerance. It’s time to walk away.

On both issues, the GOP can make a clean break: As the party of individual freedom, the GOP can simply say it now sees that Americans — especially women — do have the right to choose their own path. In fact, the party espouses the freedoms enshrined in the Constitution, always has, so the turnabout won’t even raise an eyebrow.

***

My age group is one pocket of voters who Republicans should be carrying with ease. Youth is all about rebellion and freedom and independence—things the Democratic Party preaches but doesn’t deliver. Behind their clever one-liners lurks a government shackle waiting to be slapped onto the wrists of every young voter they ensnare…

Shame on Republicans for not seizing the opportunity this time around. They could so easily define their brand as the true advocate of rebellion; a “stick it to the government” movement in the spirit of the 1960s hippie wave.

It wouldn’t be a smoke-and-mirrors, bait-and-switch trick either, like what goes on across the aisle. Republicans truly are the party of a less intrusive ruling class. Frame the Republican fundamentals—tax less, spend less—as a fresh populist approach instead of Grandpa’s adage, and the party is back in business.

***

Every time I suggest better, smarter GOP outreach to young people, Hispanics, African Americans, and women, many in the GOP old guard wave their pointer fingers at me and insist that I am advocating pandering, that I am allying myself with the Left’s divide and conquer tactics.

Let me correct them in writing, as I have done in speech: Outreach is not pandering. They are completely different things. I am not talking about dividing the country up into special interest groups, pandering to voting blocs with speeches telling them what they want to hear in order to win votes. What I am talking about is taking the conservative message, a message that stands to benefit everyone in society, to places the GOP often ignores–local African-American and Hispanic church groups, feminist centers, and left-leaning college campuses, to name a few.

Will your message face resistance? Yes, and that’s okay. It gives you a chance to correct false, media-driven stereotypes about conservatives and conservatism. Will you convert the majority in one afternoon? Of course not; these stereotypes have been inculcated over decades. Opening hearts and minds is a process, not a lunch appointment. That doesn’t mean you don’t get to work. Andrew Breitbart understood that better than anyone.

***

The darndest thing is I’m listening to all this handwringing and most of it is coming from a lot of people who’ve never really been conservative or supported conservatism. These people hated our ideas and values when we were winning and now choose this opportunity to sell us out the way they’ve always wanted. The conservative herd is headed off a cliff led by a consultant class that would otherwise now be swimming in pools full of dollar bills like Scrooge McDuck.

These people would have us believe that we must make fundamental changes to draw in new voters. We must exile social conservatives to bring in young people and single women. We must exile fiscal conservatives to bring in hispanic and black voters. With whatever is left from having exiled both, these geniuses would have us believe the Democrats in whose camp these groups already find themselves will just sit back and let it happen.

The Republican Party will never out Democrat the Democrats. Conservatives will never out liberal Liberals. We should not try.

***

[T]hough I have my anxieties about the president’s next term, I also have a hunch the GOP dodged a bullet with Mr. Romney’s loss.

It dodged a bullet because a Romney victory would have obscured deeper trends in American politics the GOP must take into account. A Romney administration would also have been politically cautious and ideologically defensive in a way that rarely serves the party well.

Finally, the GOP dodged ownership of the second great recession, which will inevitably hit when the Federal Reserve can no longer float the economy in pools of free money. When that happens, Barack Obama won’t have George W. Bush to kick around.

So get a grip, Republicans: Our republican experiment in self-government didn’t die last week. But a useful message has been sent to a party that spent too much of the past four years listening intently to echoes of itself. Change the channel for a little while.

***

“If Republicans do not do better in the Hispanic community,” [Sen.-elect Ted Cruz] said, “in a few short years Republicans will no longer be the majority party in our state.” He ticked off some statistics: in 2004, George W. Bush won forty-four per cent of the Hispanic vote nationally; in 2008, John McCain won just thirty-one per cent. On Tuesday, Romney fared even worse.

“In not too many years, Texas could switch from being all Republican to all Democrat,” he said. “If that happens, no Republican will ever again win the White House. New York and California are for the foreseeable future unalterably Democrat. If Texas turns bright blue, the Electoral College math is simple. We won’t be talking about Ohio, we won’t be talking about Florida or Virginia, because it won’t matter. If Texas is bright blue, you can’t get to two-seventy electoral votes. The Republican Party would cease to exist. We would become like the Whig Party. Our kids and grandkids would study how this used to be a national political party. ‘They had Conventions, they nominated Presidential candidates. They don’t exist anymore.’ ”

***

At the same time, a Republican Party that moves too far leftward on immigration risks alienating its white working-class supporters, an easily disillusioned constituency whose support the party cannot take for granted. These voters already suspect that Republican elites don’t have their interests at heart: Mitt Romney lost last week because he underperformed among minority voters, but also because a large number of working-class whites apparently stayed home. If the party’s only post-2012 adjustment is to embrace amnesty, they aren’t likely to turn out in 2016 either.

What the party really needs, much more than a better identity-politics pitch, is an economic message that would appeal across demographic lines — reaching both downscale white voters turned off by Romney’s Bain Capital background and upwardly mobile Latino voters who don’t relate to the current G.O.P. fixation on upper-bracket tax cuts.

As the American Enterprise Institute’s Henry Olsen writes, it should be possible for Republicans to oppose an overweening and intrusive state while still recognizing that “government can give average people a hand up to achieve the American Dream.” It should be possible for the party to reform and streamline government while also addressing middle-class anxieties about wages, health care, education and more.

***

The common theme here is that the current Republican economic message isn’t very compelling to any of these groups. If Republicans addressed that problem, they would find their numbers improving in all of these groups, and outside them too. White, working-class voters, who supported Romney for president but seem to have had low turnout, might have shown up in greater numbers if Republicans had retooled on economics.

Men and women, whites and Hispanics, the young and the middle-aged: All of them want politicians to offer a practical agenda to create jobs, raise wages, and make health care and higher education more affordable. Most of them aren’t wedded to liberal answers on those issues. They will take them over nothing, and that’s what Republicans have been giving them.

Republicans are unlikely to return to majority status, or even keep their current strength, unless they do better. Looking at voters in categories of race, sex and age won’t help them do that.

***


Why isn’t soul searching underway on the left
? When the personality at the center of the cult leaves the stage in four years, Democrats will own his results without the benefit of his appeal. We can’t know quite what a second Obama term will bring, but if his first term is an indication, there’s little reason to expect his party will be crowing. The fiscal cliff is here but a whole landscape of steep drops comes next: the economic cliff (over which lies a possible double-dip recession), the Obamacare cliff (over which lies an unprecedented bureaucratic behemoth), the Iran cliff (over which lies a nuclear bomb), and so on. A precipice in every direction and a president who’s given us no reason to presume he can steer clear. Have Democrats stopped to wonder what initiatives they’ll have to defend when the dust settles in 2016?…

It is in the nature of personality cults to fail at most things beyond generating and disseminating propaganda. This inability is the result of two things. First, the personality’s popularity is not results-driven. Since adoration hasn’t been earned by achievement but by the advent of charisma, why kill yourself trying to get results. Second, few people are willing to candidly critique the personality at the center of the cult, so there is little chance of course correction. None of this bodes well for Barack Obama. And for the country’s sake, let’s hope it’s wrong.

***


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