There has been much debate about the reasons why the Republicans not only lost the White House in this election but also lost ground in both the House and Senate in each of the last two elections. Some argue that this is a rejection of conservative ideology, and conversely that it is an embracing of more “progressive” policies. Some argue that it a rejection of George Bush, and an acceptance of “Change.” More specifically, we will hear about Iraq, corruption, and so on.
Certainly, there are elements of some truth in many of these things, while at the same time being absolutely wrong. Let me count the ways:
- Rejection of conservative ideology: The kernel of truth here is that this was a rejection of Republican policy over the last few years. The rub is that this was NOT a conservative ideology, but strayed from conservative ideology in countless ways.
- Embracing a more “progressive” ideology: Enough people like a handout and a freebie that when these things are promised, they essentially sell their vote to the highest bidder. This is not an embracing of ideology as much as it is mere perceived self-interest.
- Rejection of George Bush’s policies: This is interesting, because most people, when presented with Bush’s “policies” can’t really give you firm examples of what they don’t like other than the war in Iraq, he’s dumb, and he’s too religious. I will discuss where we went particularly wrong on this.
- Embracing Change: Everyone likes the sound of this. People embrace change when things aren’t going the greatest without considering whether or not all change is good. Some change will make a bad situation worse, and I think that people just longed for a new face and thought “to hell with worrying about policy. I just want someone different.” Many of these people will regret that decision, but only time will demonstrate this.
There are more and more things along these lines we could discuss. But it misses the boat. These things can be overcome. Success in elections is much more about confidence, public message, and campaign strategy than all these things combined. The Republicans should have bucked all conventional wisdom starting 5-6 years ago, done exactly what everyone said they shouldn’t do, and if they had done it I believe they’d have the White House today.
And what was their crucial mistake? The mistake was distancing themselves from George W. Bush. You know, the guy in the White House with a 30% approval rating.
Let me explain. You see, this is not about distancing yourself from a man with a 30% approval rating in 2008. This is about, as a Party, rallying behind your party’s President and getting in the face of the public and preventing him from ever reaching that point. Bush’s approval rating has less to do with his actions as President – whatever you think of many of those actions – and more to do with a very persistent strategy of the Left. The Left did a very simple and concerted thing: they hated him, and they hated him incessantly. Even when Bush had higher approval ratings, they hammered away. They were starting to get there in 2004 but they ran a swizzle stick for a nominee. But they ratcheted things up after that to ridiculous extremes, and they had a counterpart in a good deal of the media that helped get the message out.
You see, even the good things Bush did in the public eye was met with such relentless criticism that supporters eventually doubted him. Sure, he screwed up on Harriet Meiers, but in the end he gave us Justices Roberts and Alito. Most of America would agree that these are pretty good choices, unless you relaly lean left. But the Left pounded away with words such as “extreme.” And even though Bush was supported during 9/11, the Left found certain ways to undermine him on that. They made fun of his initial reaction at the school, where he was informed of the situation. They made some really ridiculous claim that because he released a picture of him working during the crisis, it was for political purposes. Eventually, they allowed the nutjob whackos to rant about talking up conspiracy theories. And while most Americans dismissed those things, it contributed to weariness.
The Left really stepped things up. Despite holding both houses of Congress, they assailed the lowe approval ratings of Congress as a Bush phenomenon, and by extension, a Republican one. They did not shut up. Every thing was Bush’s fault. There was never a thing Bush did right. Iraq was labeled a disaster, and this was repeated so often that even when news outlets stopped reporting the boring news that there were almost no casualties in 2008, the lie remained alive that the country was near civil war and we were losing our men and women. When the surge worked, it was either denied, or it was suggested that nobody – even Bush – really thought it was going to work as well as it did.
And where was the Right while all this was going on? Running freakin’ scared. Cowering. Acting like jellyfish. And that is the major blunder they made.
Perhaps it’s the nature of the party to believe that people will see through these kinds of tactics of fear and intimidation, but doing so is a mistake. Sure, there are plenty of people who do see through it, but there are many more who simply do not pay close enough attention to things to understand that these non-stop claims are wrong. From day one, every day, at every opportunity, the Republicans should have stepped up their public pronouncements against the claims of the Left. Oh, some people tried valiantly, but most did not. Senators on the Right meekly complained about unfairness while they were politically trampled.
This is the root of what then started to become the unwinding of all conservatism. Instead of boldly standing on conservative principles, defending the President at every turn, and calling out the Left on their lies louder and more harshly than the allegations were made, we started capitulating. Bush was, in many ways, his own worst enemy. Spending and corruption – previously liberal trademarks – entered the Republican household. Maybe this embarrassment caused them to go hide in a corner. But that never stopped the Democrats from boldly defending the Clintons during the 90’s.
With every Republican who tried to become more liberal or distance themselves from Bush, three things happened: (1) The Left became even more emboldened, (2) it actually lent credence to the anti-Bushies, and (3) people became more and more tired of the spineless conservatives and Bush.
I truly believe that if, starting in 2006, all the Republicans would have continually made the case for why Bush was a good President – supreme court appointments, reduced taxes, family values, success in Iraq, etc. instead of acting embarrassed, then people would not have necessarily felt the need for “change.” As soon as we started distancing, we lost.
Look at the end result… distancing from Bush did no Republicans any good. A few of the Senators who lost very publicly distanced themselves from the President. Instead, the wave of Obamamania came through over the very discontent towards Bush that was directly or indirectly fostered by many Republicans. Many in the GOP became the Left’s best weapon. These other Senators didn’t necessarily lose for any reason other than the fact that voters for Obama just selected the Dem on their ballot for House or Senate. Doing nothing to counter the discontent for Bush, and in fact seeming to agree with the merits of it probably cost the GOP 4 or 5 Senate seats, and God only knows how many House seats.
This was the most relentless, long-term, and vicious string of political attacks the Left has ever waged against one individual. It could have been damped, if not stemmed altogether. But we didn’t do it. And now look what we’ve got.
Most disconcerting are the morons who continue to provide advice to the Republicans on how to turn this thing around. “We need to be more inclusive,” they say. “More tolerant.” “Can’t be so dogmatic on social issues.” In other words, we need to become more liberal.
For the love of all that’s holy, look at what listening to these idiots has gotten us to. They are the same ones who fostered the criticisms of Bush and conservatism. They are the same ones who thought running from the President was the best way to go. They gave us John McCain instead of a true conservative.
I implore all my fellow conservatives to realize the lessons in this. Don’t stand for the continued character assault and relentless bullying of the Left whenever someone with conservative principles starts making headway. I present to you the next victim of the relentlessly immoral attack machine: Sarah Palin. Even conservatives who loved her started to let the Left’s rants get in their heads. Don’t stand for it.
Listen, I do not necessarily agree with Bush on everything. I will criticize when criticism is needed. But there is a difference between fair criticism, honest disagreement, and vitriolic attack. I stand by him, even in these troubled times – which by the way are much more the result of liberal decisions in the past, have absolutely nothing to do with the tax code, and not as much to do with lack of regulation as the Left wants us all to believe. Barney Frank and Chris Dodd should be in jail. And yet, Bush was blamed for the crash.
And the Republicans ran away and looked for their mommy.