Opinion: Chill Out, GOP - And Don't Abandon Your Principles
Monday, November 12, 2012 - 09:43 PM
After each presidential election, politically active Americans hunker down to write out their opinion on what, exactly, happened. This election has sparked this genre to an extent I've never seen before.
Article after article proclaims the Republican party is mangled and on the verge of death. Herman Cain, bless him, is calling for a third party. One of my favorite conservative writers, Kyle Smith, writes as pessimistic a piece as I've seen about the state of the party and the country.
And that's just the Republicans! Democrats are churning out pieces about how Republicans need to abandon everything they stand for and become more like Democrats in order to ever win again. The demographics are against the GOP! Mitt was overconfident and doesn't know real America! And, obviously, plenty of people took to Facebook to celebrate that the extreme rightwinger (Mitt Romney! LOL!) had been defeated because he was so extremely rightwing.
I understand the impulse of these pieces. Eight years ago when John Kerry lost to George W. Bush, I pointed, laughed and advised in my own piece to Democrats. I told them they needed to shape up or Republicans were going to win forever. The GOP had the presidency, the Senate, the House and the majority of governorships and state houses. Democrats were doomed!
Two years later Republicans lost the House and Senate.
What did I know? Not much. I was 27 at the time so can maybe chalk it up to semi-youthful silliness which makes it all the more perplexing to watch people older than me right now have so little historical perspective. The chatter on both sides of the political aisle is as if Republicans haven't won an election in decades and likely won't ever again. In fact, we just 4 years ago had a two-term Republican president and just two years ago the Republicans took back the House (and briefly the Senate).
Additionally, it seems that the most spectacular failure of the Romney campaign was their ground game. In the years I worked on political campaign, one truth always remains the same, no matter the candidate, no matter the election: if you don't get your people to the polls to vote on election day, you lose. It doesn't matter how slick the ads, how high the polls, the most important thing - the only important thing - is to get the people who want to vote for you to get to the polling booth and actually do it.
Parties win and parties fail. Candidates come and go. The Hillary Clinton line in regards to John Kerry "you don't have to fall in love, you just have to fall in line" always stayed with me. I advise neither falling in love nor in line with any candidate. The concept of political parties is to join like-minded people and make it easier to have a candidate represent them.
We won't all agree on everything. But discarding our beliefs to win is never the answer. It's ok for Republicans to take a week and really think about what we want our future to look like. It's not ok to decide we're going to be just like Democrats so that the next presidential winner can have an (R) after his name.