First, make your base happy; then reach for the middle: This may be the single most basic rule in politics, but half the Republicans in D.C. don't seem to get it. If the people who give you money, put your yard signs up, stuff your envelopes, and make phone calls for you are disappointed in your performance, then you've got a real problem. Make those people happy first; then if you feel like you have to split with them to reach out to moderates, break with your biggest supporters on issues that don't get their blood boiling. Why this is such a baffling concept to some Republicans in Congress, I'll never know.
You're not smarter than everybody else in the country: One of the more bizarre tics of Americans politics of late has been the towering daddy-knows-best arrogance of politicians in D.C. In the last few years, we've seen both parties insist on pushing legislation that is absolutely despised by most of the American people. Yet, despite the fact that the people have flipped out at townhall meetings and called until the Capitol Hill switchboard has melted down, the message we've gotten from D.C. is, "We know best; so do what we say and you'll thank us later."
Consultants and lickspittle staffers may disagree, but outside the D.C. bubble, there seems to be very little evidence that shows politicians in D.C. are hyper-competent super geniuses who are capable of seeing hidden trends nobody in flyover country can pick out. So, a word to the wise: Politicians should try to vote their conscience and do what's best, but if the American people are screaming "stop" at the top of their lungs, it would be wise to respect their wishes if only because they are your employers.
You weren't elected to centralize more power in D.C.: We live in a world where the federal government is too big, too involved in the lives of the American people, and it spends way too much. Moreover, for every 50 new laws the government passes, 49 will do little of note at best and will hurt more than they help at worst. That's why the goal of Republicans in Congress shouldn't be to get government to work; it should be to get government off our backs. If Congress did nothing for the next 10 years but roll back laws on the books, slash regulations, and reduce the power of the federal government, it would do far more good than passing 1000 new laws.
Remember, we don't have all the time in the world: Many Americans are TERRIFIED by what they see going on in Washington. They believe our government is corrupt, the country is rapidly moving towards socialism, and they think that unless we do something right now, future generations of Americans won't have the same opportunities we do today.
It's extremely frustrating for those Americans, who see a tidal wave coming right at this country, to look to D.C. and see Republicans who come across like they're enjoying a lazy Sunday float down the river in an inner tube. This is the most dangerous time for our country's future since WWII and we need Republicans in D.C. who not only SAY that they get it; we need Republicans in D.C. who VOTE like they get it.