After the flurry of activity leading up to the mid-term elections, it is a bit disconcerting to no longer have the huge pre-election “to do” list charting a clear course of action. One thing I won’t be doing, wrote conservative blogger Bob Owens (www.confederateyankee.mu.nu) the day after the election, is “blaming Diebold.” I don’t hear those liberals who complained so much about the evil Bush-manipulated machines prior to the election questioning the integrity of the vote now that so many of those machines recorded Democrat wins, so I guess Democrats are having to change their “to do” lists as well.
Other items on Owens’ list of things he would not be doing were “staying in bed with massive depression,” “creating a new election-based psychological malady,” and “checking out immigration laws to other countries.” If I take those Michael Moore and Alec Baldwin-inspired options off the table, then what should I, as a conservative and a Republican, be doing?
One thing Republicans should do is follow Dean Barnett’s recommendation to "comport ourselves with dignity and class right now. No shrieks of foul play, no whining. There's no crying in politics, at least not in public. Let's remember what we want to do more than anything else - better our country. Sore loser antics won't help, and neither will slagging on our countrymen for not seeing things the way we did. We didn't make the sale, and that falls on us."
I couldn’t agree more. There are some real gripes conservatives can make about the media who downplayed any good news, when they covered it at all, and who spun every possible negative story as the direct result of evil and inept Republicans. We have been griping about that for years though, and the mainstream media really hasn’t seemed to get any better. In many ways, it has gotten worse (Broken Government anyone?). I am still all for exposing media bias, and it is valuable for media watchdogs like the Media Research Center to document it. This is just not the time to be publicly whining about the media (as I plead guilty to doing on many occasions) or attacking the media as the boogeyman who cost Republicans the election, even though there are good arguments to be made that they played a major role.
I still hold out hope that one day those in the old media will be so shamed when their bias is pointed out to them, that they will develop more balanced presentations. So far, though, rather than shame, the reaction has been more the “fake, but accurate” variety.
Conservatives should focus their time and attention on continuing to support and help expand the influence of new forms of media. Talk radio and the blogosphere have been extremely effective in getting out the conservative message, but their influence still pales in comparison to that of the mainstream media which exists not only in their “news” shows, but is often found seeping into their entertainment programming as well. As the influence of the new media grows, the less the bias of the old media will matter.
When Dean Barnett said we didn’t “make the sale, and that falls on us,” he could not have been any more right. Taking positive steps to expand the influence of the new media will help us make the sale next time around, but if the product in inferior, we will be in the same boat we were in this time around.
Conservatives need to decide what they expect from their members of Congress, such as to which issues they want attention focused, and then they need to convey that to them. It is hard to “make the sale” when you are trying to sell something you don’t believe to be the best. One way right-leaning bloggers are becoming active in the race for leadership in the House, for example, is by asking those running for positions to detail their plans for the next two years and to make themselves available to answer questions about specific issues and strategies. When those leaders who appear best prepared to work for real reform and to push forward conservative issues are identified, conservatives should do everything possible to support them and to hold their feet to the fire.
The suggestions above are just a few very general elements I propose be part of the new post-2006 election plan for conservatives. In the coming days, as Republicans look forward to the 2008 elections, plans will grow and become more and more specific. This is a start though, and certainly beats descending into a rant about Diebold conspiracy theories while fleeing to Canada.