Social conservatism? Most of the Republicans in D.C. act like they're embarrassed by Christians and social conservatives, even on issues where the public is on their side. Then, after the GOP puts up candidates who run away from social conservatism at every opportunity, it's the Christian conservatives who are blamed for the loss. Here's a thought: If you can't turn social conservatism into a winner in a nation that's 73% Christian when you're up against the party that defends the behavior of Jesse Jackson, Jr., Bill Clinton, and Bob Menendez, you're doing something wrong.
How do we distinguish ourselves from the Democrats when no one ultimately believes that we mean what we say? It has gotten so bad that Republicans like Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Pat Toomey, Jeff Sessions and Rand Paul are problematic for the D.C. GOP not because they're radical, but because they actually believe in all the things the other Republicans say, but don't mean on the campaign trail. Worse yet, the establishment Republicans have the nerve to cluck at conservatives for complaining about the situation as if the problem isn't their lies, condescension, and unprincipled behavior, but the people who are saying it’s unacceptable.
To a lot of the Republicans in D.C., politics is like a football game. The only thing that matters is if your team "wins,” but they’ve defined "winning" down to little more than getting good press, moving poll numbers, or just "doing something." Unfortunately, you can win a hundred of those "victories" and still lose the war. That’s why conservatives in "flyover country" define winning as enacting conservative legislation, repealing bad legislation or moving the country to the right.
Meaningful victories of that sort have been in short supply in DC and yet, this doesn't seem to trouble the Republican establishment. In fact, not only are they content to rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic, they seem genuinely hostile to conservatives who actually expect them to produce results. Again and again we're told that they have superior insight and a magic formula for victory, but they never seem to have anything to offer beyond the same old, tired excuses for their failures.
If they're so smart, why don't they get it?
Of course, black and Hispanic Americans won't vote for us. Democrats have been telling them for decades that we hate them and the GOP treats them like they have cooties. We do almost no minority outreach of consequence as a party. We don't tailor our message specifically to appeal to single women, young Americans, or people who live in cities either. We're behind on technology, we don't support new media, we don't do much to build conservative grassroots organizations, we don't help groups trying to reach out to new constituencies, we don't aid churches, and we've given up on impacting the mainstream media, the education system, and Hollywood.
We're like a football team that keeps running the same plays that don't work, no matter how many times they fail. Someone says, "Gee, we've run the ball 58 straight times; can we try passing it?" Then the response is, "Gosh, no, that's too risky and dangerous. Besides, the consultants who are getting filthy rich off of these losing tactics assure us that they'll pay off if we stick with them a little bit longer."
Well, here’s an alternate strategy for the Republican Party: How about we actually govern like we campaign on law and order, a strong defense, small government, social conservatism and on being the responsible, honest adult party? We should also start with the same premise the Democrats do -- which is, first keep the base happy, then try to reach out to the middle. Next, instead of campaigning on the leftovers of Reagan's 25 year old agenda, we could start with the question, "How can we make people's lives better today with conservative principles?" Instead of waiting for each group to come to us, we could actually go to it with a tailor made explanation of how our conservatism could make life better for it just like the Democrats do. Additionally, in lieu of putting all of our money into American Crossroads’ new conservative candidate-killing venture, could we perhaps try funding conservatives in the new media, get out the vote technology, groups that do minority outreach, or maybe even some conservative leaning women's magazines or gossip blogs to reach those low information voters? Rather than being the party that talks tough to begin with, but then caves and gives the Democrats 90% of what they want so that we get the worst of both worlds, maybe we could refuse to deal unless we get at least 60% of what we want. It would also help to replace failures like Mitch McConnell, John Boehner and Reince Priebus with leaders who have the strategic vision and charisma to sell our viewpoint to the American people.
Our principles don't have to change, but it's time to accept that our strategy, our tactics, and our "leaders" aren't getting the job done. We're not going to beat people whose entire agenda is giving away "free" stuff with our current strategy, which seems to be to give away half as much while we continually stay on defense and whine that we're not the ogres that they're making us out to be. Until we accept that doing it like we've always done it for the last decade is going to get us what we've always gotten, we're going to keep getting our teeth knocked in by the worst gang of cranky misfits, rabid socialists, and degenerate loons ever to hold office in this country.