The Republican Party will bounce back. There’s no doubt about that. They’ve been down before and they’ll be down again. But if they want to limit their time in the majority, they must take the lead in bipartisanship. Republican leaders in the House and Senate (Mitch McConnell and John Boehner respectively) must actively pursue cooperation and utterly avoid confrontation. This is the only way Republicans can continue to help their constituents, their country, and themselves.
Once it becomes absolutely clear that the minority party is willing to work together for the good of the people, the majority usually invites them to the table for more serious discussion. It is then time that Republicans can voice their dissent, explain their differences, and participate in good old fashioned debate. Bipartisanship will also allow Republicans to challenge President Bush without seeming selfish or maverick. Instead, it will be what it is – an elected official speaking his mind on behalf of his constituents, regardless of what the president or congress thinks.
But enough of this nice-guy talk. What do the Republicans need to do to win back the majority and retain the White House in 2008? Well the very first thing they need to do is figure out a plan for Iraq. Minimizing the loss of lives (both American and Iraqi) should be their first order of business. Whether that means adding or decreasing troops - which according to Bush’s plan to surge 20,000 troops to Iraq, is no longer up for debate - the loss of lives must come to an end. So Republicans should take the lead and send a delegation to the Middle East led by two war veterans with opposing views about the future of Iraq. John McCain (“There are two keys to any surge of U.S. troops. To be of value the surge must be substantial and it must be sustained -- it must be substantial and it must be sustained.”) and Chuck Hagel (“The idea that the Iraqis will respond only to more troops is complete folly, unless you're going to kill all the Iraqis."), should lead a group of Republicans across Iraq and the Middle East to get a first hand look at what is happening. Then they can come back with a plan to fix the mess, unite the party, and win back votes they lost because of this war.
There’s more Republicans can do to get back on top. They should take the lead on the immigration issue and come up with a clear and unified stance against immigration. They should go against the President on this issue and hold strong to their beliefs. Republican leaders should also challenge the President on issues like mail privacy, and guest logs at the White House. The minority party and the party of less government must always call for transparency and protection of the people’s rights. This includes a fierce confrontation with former Republican leaders who were involved with ethical scandals. Republican leaders should adamantly call for the prosecution of Mark Foley, and other elected leaders who broke the law while in office. This will show they are serious about ethics and corruption overhauls, and shed light on Democrats like William Jefferson (bribery) and John Murtha (ABSCAM scandal) who have ethical issues of their own. Finally, the Republican members must avoid the age-old temptation of bringing up same-sex marriage, abortion, and stem cell research. These issues are no longer winners for Republicans, and they should not publicly advocate for, or argue against them.
The Republican leaders need to face the facts. The Democrats showed up for the fight more prepared, more determined, and better armed. They handily took control of the House and were just a few thousands votes away from winning at least a dozen more seats. They shocked everyone by retaking the Senate and picking up the majority of Governor’s mansions and State Legislatures. Clearly, their campaign work and the people’s desire for change showed up on Election Day. The party of small taxes, small spending, pro business, pro security, now needs to show up if they want to win anything in two years. The Republican Party must take this latest punch with grace and courage, and then bounce back off the floor and be willing to sit down at the same table with the enemy. Republicans must work together with Democrats if they want to see their constituents helped, their country improved, and their party back on top in 2008.