Rebuilding the GOP – Part 1

I’m going to have to break this down a bit to get it all in.

1) What went wrong?
2) Where to look next.
3) Rebuilding the Wisconsin GOP.
4) Rebuilding the national party.

First, a disclaimer. I haven’t been a party member for a couple of years now. Like so many others, I feel the Republican party left me rather than vice-versa. But my specifics are different from what I understand the majority of those who have walked away are feeling.

What went wrong?

I don’t think it was because social conservatives didn’t get their say. Each voting conservative had every right to land a candidate. The problem was, those hoping to wear the conservative mantle were many, and one took a long time to enter the game. That left John McCain perfectly positioned to take the nomination as a moderate. So, next time, if you wearing the full conservative label really want a say, stand behind one conservative candidate. Vet your candidate before the primary.

Also, we lost a lot of independent voters that usually vote Republican this election. I think it’s fair to lay this one at the feet of John McCain and they way he handled the economic bailout. Suspending the campaign and heading to WDC was a good move. Voting for a package that didn’t pass the House was not a good move. In hindsight, and I’ve been loud about this all along, the concept of a bailout is a bad one. McCain siding to bailout cost him independent votes. There was nothing to distinguish his position on this economic problem from Obama’s, so indies thought, “what the heck?” and voted Obama.

No, I don’t think we should split this issue between “conservative” Republicans and Republicans. Yes, I think the candidate lost this race.

Notice I said the candidate and not the running mate. The hoopla over Sarah Palin was the most disgusting thing I remember ever witnessing in national politics. The media’s work set women back 20 years. It will be a long time before we see a woman succeed. Republicans, in particular, are hard on their women candidates. This time, though, the Democrats didn’t do themselves any favor either. Ladies, when we talk politics, we need to concede that we’re talking a man’s game for a while.

I think part of the Republican loss is because Republicans chose to be out of touch. Before anyone jumps on that, I mean quite literally. Democrats (and by this I mean Obama, but we’ll get to that later) nailed the technology leap this election took. And no, I’m not talking about the internet.

Yes, the internet was an important contender for both candidates. Though Obama seemed to tend his online flock a little more closely than McCain, both used the technology well. Both had about equal approaches to YouTube, social networking sites, and e-mail. Only Obama used cellular technology to his benefit.

From planting thousands in a stadium and asking them to make a few calls to asking supporters to text in order to create an instant data base, the Obama campaign was the only one to use this leap in technology. That’s where the technological mistake was in this campaign.

Of course Republicans need to add the cellular networks. They also need to be very careful to be on top of the next technological leap. Missing one of these means the end of connecting with anyone under 40. Granted, a few of us older voters are happy to be a part of the revolution, but we’re a minority. Right now the youth vote is a text away. What will that technology be in 2 years? 4? 8? Will Republicans have made a commitment to utilize the opportunities created?

In summary – Republicans failed to harness a technological leap.

The next thing that went very wrong for Republicans was the loss of the ground game.

The voters that put Bush 43 in office are 8 years older now. They were 50 to 60 when they did the doors back then. They weren’t walking the routes this year. The two who came by here were pretty obviously hired help. While Obama capitalized on youthful energy, there wasn’t much energy at all on the Republican side.

If we’re going to stop the bleed we need to appeal to a full spectrum of voter ages in equal shares.

I suppose it’s as good as time as any to recognize that the Democrats didn’t win this election, Barack Obama did. As we saw earlier, the DNC went into considerable debt to fund this one. Obama blew through record fundraising totals. The DNC had little to do with it all this time. Obama cornered the market on community organizing.

I saw little evidence of Republicans being organized.

Nothing did more to make that case than when someone came to my door on two separate occasions with exactly the same questions and materials. The second call should have gone somewhere else. Also, from the very little bit I saw on the inside, Republican staffers were uncertain about the chain of command.

Staffers for any campaign are interesting creatures. They know they are effectively prostituting themselves in hopes of a gig down the road. For the most part, they were previously unemployed, or they wouldn’t have had time to pick up on the campaign. It makes for an interesting work force.

Obama tapped huge numbers of volunteers to manage the campaign responsibilities normally held by staff.

Next we need to explore a couple of issues that fell apart for the GOP. Many of you won’t want to hear it, but abortion is one of them. This wedge issue is gone. We’ve moved into a generation of voters that have only known the opportunity for abortion, and they don’t consider that decision controversial. It is still highly personal, but no longer an issue for the campaign trail.

Take heart if this is your issue. Abortions are down nationwide. Like the article, though I tend to believe it’s due to the availability of the morning after pill and some other prescriptive methods. Also, birth control is widely accepted and practiced by the child-bearing generations. Unfortunately, I doubt there’s less teen sexual activity. (Keep in mind that I’m one of those moderates who declares that the better way to prevent abortion is to prevent unwanted pregnancies.)

Another issue on which the GOP must improve is the economy. We used to be known as the old guys you could trust to keep your money safe. We lost that honor when we started spending as hard and fast as Democrats. Yes, the war was part of that, but there are millions in pork that we gave into thinking “everyone was doing it.” That’s still the one golden crown John McCain didn’t use to his advantage – he walked the talk when it came to pork. He should have capitalized better on that.

Also, a little education (ok, brainwashing) is in order. The economy didn’t suck until Democrats successfully talked it into the dumpster. I’m not kidding here. They worked very hard to make a bad economy in order to capitalize on Bill Clinton’s success with “It’s the economy, stupid.” When John McCain said the fundamentals of the economy were sound, they still technically were sound. I wish I had an enormous bullhorn to shout to the world that it was nine months of Democratic bad mouthing that finally fulfilled a prophecy. The stock market moves on sentiment. The economy was close behind.

Argue what you’d like, but it will be hard to articulate anything where this recent Democratic suckfest can’t be used as a premise.

We need to beat Democrats at the “life sucks” mantra they put forward. Life isn’t so bad for the majority of those who voted for Obama. But, we don’t dare rely on a PollyAnna approach to make the counterpoint.

That’s it for now. I need to cook dinner. I’m sure I’ll think of other things later. Feel free to add your own. (Typos and bad tenses are exempt from your harsh eye until I’m fully finished!)


  1. The democrats talked the economy into the dumpster? Sorry you lost me on this one. You need to read and listen to what’s happening in financial reporting circles to understand that no one has talked anything into anything. The rock that started it was the failed housing mortgage underwriting standards. And what you’re seeing now is that people are not spending or borrowing and therefore markets are tumbling such as auto, retail, etc. Credit makes the world go round.

    You never really addressed local (state) republican leadership rebuilding. There is no republican leadership in our state. And I hope no one declares that that lackluster and always self promoting do nothing Mary Lazich is our new leader or I’ll puke. We need someone with substance that can articulate a vision and embrace the diverse economic base in our state.

    I need more coffee.

  2. Wilson828, thanks for weighing in. Yes, credit ended up being a big part of the stock market drop. But months before that started, Democrats were pronouncing the end of the average voter’s world. I’ll try to find some documentation.

    I’ve got three more parts! Be patient.

  3. I believe, at least originally, the hoopla about SP was that she was NEW, unknown, and this took most people by surprise as they did not predict her introduction into this race.

    If one believes/accepts/aknowledges that Dems talked the economy into the dumpster as you and I both do, then might it not also be true that mainstream media are following the same tactic of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of putting SP in the dumpster? The difference is, whereas the economy is already in the dumpster, SP is not there yet. It is not what THEY say, but how we as conservative Americans, and she as the object of their scorn, respond. If we can infuse more positive into the situation than the negative they inject, it need not be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    In other words, please don’t give up, give in, or concede as you did! If the mainstream media set women back 20 years, it is our challenge to bring women ahead at least 21 years!

    We need to learn from the Dems to essentially stop squeezing a pimple, picking a scab, and let these injuries heal and go away more quickly on their own, being replaced in the collective consciousness and daily conversation by other topics.

    As an example when Biden spoke about info he may have been privy to after the briefing, and this gaff caused a rift, and he was quickly reigned in, this had the potential to but did not sink the Dems. Instead we hear Matt Lauer and others giving that little attention but rather pressing both SP and JM about any possible contention and rift between the two of THEM: an obvious attempt at projection of Dem troubles onto the GOP, an attempt to distract attention from the real story of the Dem rift by digging elsewhere! The problem occurs when we conservatives go fo it!! We get off track so easily, trying to mend every wound along the way. How ’bout adopting an attitude of: I don’t care if they duked it out last night, today we’re movin’ right along?!

    Then we have a body language expert analyzing SP but not the wild hand gestures Matt Lauer is making in her direction as he interviews her. Some may say his overuse of such gestures, which seemed to infringe on her personal space, bordered on attack and may be an attempt to elicit a strong emotional response or alarm from SP as she answered the questions he posed… thereby given the body language expert something to talk about. (Essentially setting up SP.) Meanwhile SP was a study in graciousness and strength.

    That BO’s body language is *often* shifty-eyed, his face either stoic or smirking, tone of voice often overbearing, all strong negatives toward building trust and credibilty, has received little attention by comparison. Again, some may say there is an attempt to divert attention from true weaknesses of the Dems while refocusing public attention elsewhere.

    Only sheeple who let mainstream media do their thinking for them will fall for this. We must trust our own observations, weight the various foibles we see, sift and separate the accurate from the spin and encourage others to do so in order to stop the Dem’s negative self-fulfilling prophecies and replace that expectation with our own positives. The power of our attitudes is an incredibly powerful force.

    Let’s not write off women. Let’s stop the trend of helping the Dems divide-and-conquer the GOP. Let’s not think what “they” did wrong in the GOP, but how “we” can help keep conservatives strong.

  4. Tink – the only flaw I see in your argument is that a majority of Americans ARE sheeple.

  5. Cindy,
    I concur most Americans have become sheeple. However once a sheeple, not always a sheeple. For example, look at me.

    Therefore not a flawed point, but a challenge to us to wake ever more people out of their complacency by continuing to provide a few good thinking exercises each day.

  6. Wilson828 – here’s a National Review article showing Kerry using the technique in 2004.

    I’ll add more to this comment as I find them.

    Here’s a WSJ article from the same period. Still need to find stuff from this election cycle!

    One more recent, though granted not MSM.

    Obama declared the economy in a recession in March 2008 although two consecutive quarters of decline in real GDP – the definition of recession – have not occurred since 2001.

    Obama, Pelosi AND McCain said the U.S was in recession in early September, despite continued GDP growth.

    (I’d say that’s another clue as to why McCain lost – again the inability to differentiate the argument.

    Ok, I’m comfortable that I documented the talk existed. Probably one last point to be made. Yes, there’s tight credit. How’d that happen? Remember when the first institution went down it was due to short interest. What creates short interest? A lack of confidence. What created a lack of confidence? Words like recession and housing bubble.

    Trash talk isn’t the only reason the market hit the skids. I will contend the negative talk put a pin in the market balloon, though. The timing was everything. McCain went along for the ride on the economy instead of making a stand – as he began – that fundamentals were strong enough to fend off collapse.

    It’s probably a good idea to articulate that though the market is down significantly, I still wouldn’t label the move a collapse. Even though we may see negative GDP at the end of the quarter, we’re still not technically defining recession.

    I still see lines at the coffee shops. The end is no where near.

  7. Randy in Richmond says:

    The negative talk is not just in and on the MSM. Small town newspapers, local radio and TV newscasts, Leno and Letterman, even advertising contribute to the ‘sense’ of negativity on the economy. In the past when the indicators were mostly positive this went on as part of the constant Bush bashing. This is the huge advantage the Dems and Obama have in knowing the reporting will be slanted in their direction. But the influence of the MSM is slowly declining. Yet there’s no question who they were for in this last election. Certainly McCain had a hill to climb but his campaign chose to travel on secondary roads rather than take the Interstate.


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