I was asked recently what lesson should the GOP have learned from the results of the 2006 Mid-Term elections. That’s easy: You can’t please everyone, but you sure can make them all mad at you at the same time!
Voters are not in the mood for petty political bickering or platitudes about “hope”. In fact, they are more skeptical of so called “political solutions” and even more negative about the direction the country is taking than they were in November 2006. Perhaps more disturbing is the fact that more American voters now think their children will be worse off than they are.
These factors, among others, are setting the stage for this November’s crucial state and local elections. Keep in mind, the stakes were already high due to the fact that the governors and state senators elected this November in New Jersey, Virginia, Mississippi, Louisiana and Kentucky will decide the shape of the legislative and congressional maps after the next census. Consequently, the election results will now also serve as an important indicator of what’s at stake for both parties in the 2008 presidential and congressional elections.
With an overwhelming majority of voters seeking answers and progress on the challenges we face, Republican and Democrat candidates cannot simply expect their respective base to achieve victories. In order to win, candidates will have to communicate a message that is not bound by party lines, but in fact pulls us together through a common vision that speaks to our prosperity and our security.
In my travels for state and local candidates, I am seeing a new generation of Republican leaders emerge who are serious about fiscal stewardship and who respect the opinions of those with whom they may not always agree. I am meeting Republicans who reflect more and more the communities they come from and who are speaking with clarity on the issues that matter in the everyday lives of individuals and families.
This new generation of Republican leaders realizes that there is no magic formula, no secret potion nor handshake that will make our Party more attractive to voters. Our success, they correctly surmise, rests in demonstrating our commitment to strong families, a strong economy and a safe and secure world.
There is no time or resource to waste: Republican candidates running in 2007 must act now to articulate and to demonstrate that they will serve with integrity, accountability and fiscal responsibility. We forgot that and paid a dear price for it in 2006. To win this November and beyond, they, and our Party must present positive ideas and programs for solving the challenges facing state and local communities. Voters need to understand that we will secure the future by creating a legacy of ownership in one’s business, one’s home, and one’s community. Only individuals can create a legacy of ownership, not government.
The Republican Party’s mission has not changed since its founding in 1856. It remains to empower the people of this great nation to put their hopes into action. This principle is what separates Republicans from Democrats.
Once Republicans effectively make the case that only opportunity can defeat dependence and only self-reliance can overcome adversity, then and only then will voters give us a mandate to lead: A mandate that seeks to empower future generations; that seeks to secure the freedoms our sons and daughters have fought and died for; a mandate that recognizes the values of faith and family inherent in the very fabric of American life.
As this campaign season unfolds and the voters weigh what’s at stake for them, they will want to know which Republican Party will rise to lead: the party they rejected in November 2006 or the Party of Lincoln.
And what’s at stake for the GOP? Well, Lincoln said it best when he noted “I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.” Let us be true to ourselves and stand right with the voters once again.