Why did Romney lose on Election Day? We've heard all the theories: his turnout wasn't high enough - he didn't appeal to minority groups - he didn't appeal to youth - people couldn't identify with a rich guy (or a Mormon) - it was Hurricane Sandy's fault - and so forth and so on.
Now, as more data becomes available, Ed Morrissey and I come to this conclusion: Romney in particular and Republicans in general are not selling themselves.
In order to win national elections, Republicans have to compete in all communities. That doesn’t mean pandering, but it does mean putting free-market, small-government philosophies and slogans into concrete policy proposals that will improve the lives of voters. It’s not enough to talk about empowering investors to take risk in the American economy; we need to talk about how we can encourage that investment to go into urban centers to revitalize neighborhoods and create jobs. We need to commit to school choice and educational reform, in combination with a shift in control away from federal mandates (and the costly administration they require) to the local school boards and parents. We have to have specific policy proposals on the table and the commitment to follow through on them.
Until we remember what Jack Kemp figured out two decades ago, we will never compete for those votes, and end up with a massive handicap in national elections.
If voters don't understand what the party's governance is going to be - and why it is superior to that of their opponents - then they are not going to win elections.
And - I will editorialize my own personal thoughts on social issues. Social conservatives do not have to shed their beliefs. Nevertheless, to appeal to the nation at large, Republicans have to be the party of free market and small government both for fiscal and regulation issues - and for social issues. Allow individuals to live their lives as they see fit. It's fine to try to convince them that your take on the issues is the most sensible one. But do that in communities, in your houses of worship and the like. Forcing your personal beliefs into law is no more "small-government" than having the mayor of New York City tell us what kind of soft drinks we can purchase.