If you have political sensibilities similar to mine, then yesterday's election was a disaster. Despite Obama's woefully pathetic four years of governing - our nation voted for another four. Despite impending doom about our fiscal cliff - more voters bought into the "Romney will take away your birth control" rhetoric. As many have said - if Republicans can't beat a guy with this record, then they have some very serious issues.
One of my favorite websites is HotAir - and one of the big reasons is the quiet, thoughtful wisdom of Ed Morrissey. Despite not always agreeing with Ed on some topics, Ed nevertheless virtually always gets my nod as a pundit who is respectful, considerate and examining the issues with a fair and open mind. This is Ed's take as to what happened yesterday. My opinion follows.
This time, Republicans can’t blame the candidate, or at least they shouldn’t. Mitt Romney ran one of the most well-organized national campaigns in recent memory within the GOP. He raised prodigious amounts of cash, keeping pace with Obama. The RNC followed suit, building a massive and impressive GOTV effort that really did produce a big increase in turnout — but not enough to match what Democrats did in this cycle. Republicans blamed John McCain in 2008 and even George Bush for the bailouts, but those fig leaves are gone, and the realignment is too apparent to ignore.
That reality presents a challenge to the GOP and to conservatives. We do not need to change our values, but we do need to find ways to communicate them in an engaging and welcoming manner. We need to think creatively about big issues, philosophy, and how we can relate conservative values to the needs of a wider range of voters. Conservatism cannot become constrictionism, or the realignment will continue, and it will become ever more difficult to win national elections.
Ed - here is what I believe conservatives and their libertarian partners need to do. They need to expand the freedom loving, market-conditions, personal responsibility to people's private lives as much as they do to their fiscal lives. I strongly believe that Mitt Romney lost in large part because of the demonization of what a Romney administration would do to women's rights, gays, minorities, etc. And although I actually disagree as to what the liberal pundits had to say for the most part on these matters, I neverthless think that a great many actions and words of the right did give them fuel for the fire.
What do I mean by this? What I mean is that the right has to concede that we are a diverse nation - and one where we do have different values as to "family values," sexuality, abortion, birth control and the like. Thus, just as the left should not be telling us whether we can purchase a Big Gulp or tax us into oblivion, neither should the right tell us what loving, adult partnerships are "worthy" of legal protection, what is "moral" sexual behavior, and so forth and so on. It is fine for conservatives to discuss and preach in their houses of worship, in their neighborhoods and online. Yet, they cannot, by law, force everyone else to accept what they think is right. If they continue to try, instead of getting candidates like Mitt Romney elected, they will have more and more Obamas and Graysons (God help us).
Republicans have to become the party of freedom. They have to reinvent what made our nation great - and let people know that freedom extends to all parts of their lives. Yes, I can hear some of the conservatives thinking that this is "giving up" what they cherish and what is critical. But all I can say is this. How has the plan of forcing your socially conservative views into law been working with the American people? Had the Republican party platform focused only on fiscal and security issues, and said "we leave people's personal lives to individuals" - then do you think we might have had a better chance yesterday?
The answer is not more candidates who are "clearly conservative" in every way. Our people are telling us, over and over, that they reject being told, by law, how they must live in their bedroom and in their personal relationships. So. If those of us who want to stop the trajectory of more out of control spending, more crushing regulation, more usurping of so many other freedoms by the government - then we have to extend that push for freedom into our social laws, too.
My socially conservative friends may think I am all wet. Yet, if you do, all I can say is, "How is the Republican party's model been working so far?" It is not the candidates (well, not all of them). It is not realizing the world in which we live today.
And thank you, Ed. You and HotAir continue to do a masterful job at presenting conservative and libertarian ideas in a respectful, cogent manner - day in and day out. Even on a sad day like today....