Everyone seems to have an idea about why the GOP did so poorly in the 2006 elections and appears on track to have a pretty tough go of it ahead in 2008.
The Democrats think the GOP lost because George Bush is an extreme right wing religious fanatic who lied us into a crusade against Muslims, or a war for oil -- take your pick, and that he mismanaged that war because he is evil and wants to kill as many American soldiers as possible. Or something to that effect. (Throw in the word “Halliburton” and the phrase “tax cuts for the rich” and you will have about half of the Democrats’ talking points.) The Democrats believe they won because Americans wanted them to pull the troops out of Iraq immediately. The remainder of the Democrats’ talking points have to do with corruption. They would have us all believe that GOP lawmakers are crooks and perverts, while those in the Democratic party don’t have such problems.
The GOP losses in 2006 were in large measure due to the President’s unpopularity resulting from a war that was not going swimmingly and due to some widely publicized cases of Republican congressmen caught engaging in misconduct. The Democrats were wrong when they thought the election results were a mandate to do whatever it took to lose the war and surrender in Iraq. Americans wanted a better result, but most still wanted to pursue victory if there was any possibility that it could be achieved. Democrats were also wrong in saying there is a bigger problem among GOP legislators than among Democratic ones when it comes to matters of corruption and unethical behavior. The problem is more one of the inability of many in the media to attach a “D” after the names of Democrats caught with their pants down or their hands in the cookie jar, than it is a lack of Democrats engaging in any such behavior.
Many Republicans are battling over the reason for the 2006 losses and come down in different camps. Some think the cause was not enough Republicans running as strong conservatives -- especially on the issues of spending and immigration. Others think the blame lies with those Republicans who preferred their side go down in defeat to punish those who did not take a strong enough stand on various issues. I think it was a little bit of both. Too many Republican politicians were too squishy on issues like spending and immigration and let the Democrats campaign to the right of them. That never should have been allowed to happen. There were also some in the Republican party who decided they would prefer a loss to punish the party in the hopes that the result would be a return to more conservative principles. Those people sure got what they wanted, but I wonder how happy they are with Speaker Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Reid.
One big problem I see right now for the GOP is that some factions within the party are too busy trying to convince each other they are right about what went wrong in 2006 that they can’t come together to build a strategy that will win elections. There are many things that can be done to elect conservative Republicans, including recruiting attractive candidates with strong conservative credentials. There are also many ways to ensure another Republican defeat. Unfortunately I am seeing a whole lot of defeatist behavior. Here is a short list of things I see some Republicans doing that could ensure another loss in 2008.
1. Instead of taking positive action and doing the hard work necessary to elect strong conservative candidates in the primaries, whine about how the Republicans aren’t any better than the Democrats. It is sure as heck a lot easier to whine than to make phone calls, stuff envelopes and knock on doors for conservative candidates.
2. After a primary candidate is chosen (without any help from you), forget about how many more positions on issues you and the GOP candidate share, and forget how far left their Democratic opponent is, and instead work against the Republican in the general election (or withhold support from them) to “send a message.”
3. Instead of disagreeing in a civil manner over various issues with those in the party, get emotional and accuse those on your side of being mean doodyheads. (If anyone doubts this is going on, I will gladly share evidence of it with you, but will admit that generally a word worse than “doodyhead” is employed.)
4. Bask in the misery of another loss and instead of working to get conservative Republicans elected in 2010, try to pull as many others as possible into your negative state of being.
Okay, those were just a few suggestions. There are literally thousands of other ways to lose elections, but those worked pretty well the last time around.