Tuesday, February 17, 2009

How to fix the GOP?

John Hawkins is the list-master of the conservative blogosphere, and he's now got a list of "Six Keys to Turning Around the Republican Party." I think he's right in saying that the first step to figuring out how to go forward is figuring out how things went wrong, to wit:
Bush and his Republican allies in Congress systematically alienated their conservative supporters by almost totally ignoring their concerns on issues like spending and immigration, even to the point of gratuitously insulting conservatives who disagreed with them. The Party then topped this all off by choosing the single least popular man in the entire Republican Party with conservative activists, John McCain, as the party’s presidential nominee.
Read the whole thing. The important thing is not to let the liberal media, the Democrats and Republican "moderates" get inside your head with their what-went-wrong narratives, which always end with the conclusion that that those right-wing anti-government nuts and the evangelical holy-rollers are the problem with the GOP.

I started trying to get the "what went wrong" story straight even before the election, with my "How John McCain Lost" article on Oct. 7. That had been preceded by articles on "Libertarian Populism" (Sept. 30) and "The Bible vs. the Bailout" (Oct. 2), and was followed with "You Did Not Lose" (Nov. 5), "Don't Overthink It" (Nov. 12) and "Future Ex-Democrats" (Nov. 24).

The most important thing, after a solid ass-kicking like Republicans took on Nov. 4, is not to panic or become demoralized. You could argue that Democrats might not have lost in 2004 if they hadn't panicked and become demoralized after their surprising defeats in 2002. I think we can see that Howard Dean in late 2003 was basically on the path that would lead to Democratic victories in 2006 and '08, and John Edwards was viable at that point. Instead the party's Establishment got skittish and went with that insufferable loser, John Kerry.

But the Democrats did something very smart after 2004. Instead of freaking out over those "values voters" and getting all down in the dumps, they got busy organizing and raising money so that when the GOP hit a long streak of bad moves and bad news in 2005-06, the Dems were ready to take advantage of it. A day of organizing is worth a week of blathering about "strategy," and an hour of fund-raising is worth far more than a month of navel-gazing op-ed columns pumped out by the punditocracy.

But the pundits always want to over-intellectualize everything, because that's what they get paid to do, and the consultants always want to talk "strategy," because they's what they get paid to do. Grassroots organizing, candidate recruitment and fundraising -- those are the three things the GOP needs to focus on in the near term. It's hard to focus on that kind of important stuff if you let yourself get bummed out by doomsaying pundits.

UPDATE: Moe Lane:
Whining does not count as "doing something about it." Neither does demanding that the Party drop everything to concentrate on your pet issue, stapling your hand to your forehead about how the awful Party never listened to you, and/or threatening to move out to the countryside with a full load of ammo and survival gear. All any of that does is depress people who are trying to actually fix things.
Hear! Hear!


  1. The party is Means.
    The Constitution is End.
    Just R-T-F-M.

  2. after this week, I think Specter might have taken over as the conservatives least favorite Republican

  3. Well, as I've been saying, the recent ' just say no" and
    " it just won't work" strategy was a big loser and in my opinion further eroded the GOP.
    I'm going to go with Michael Steele on this one; Retalibans are not to be believed in word or deed. There is no reason to trust the GOP and even the chairman knows that.
    The problem is that the GOP and the CONS are trying to live off of the heyday of the immediate aftermath of 9-11.
    What the Retalibans don't realize is that the knee-jerk reactionary politics of post-9-11 was and is not something to build anything on, much to the chagrin of Rove and his third-reichian ambitions of his permanent GOP majority.
    The Retalibans have traded in principles for politics and the rest of the country sees this.