mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

We lost. Where do we go from here?

Well, the Republicans lost this election. Obama will be our president for the next 4 years.

Obviously, I'm disappointed. I think that the Republicans are stronger on issues like national security, that they are more pro-business and pro individual liberty, that they are better for the economy, and that they are less likely to appoint activist judges to the Supreme Court.

Still, I think we'll survive the next few years. I'm hoping that the Obama that we see is more of the one we saw during the campaign - leaning towards the center - and less the super-liberal that his voting record suggests. I'm hoping he's more Bill Clinton than Nancy Pelosi, that doesn't go overboard on regulation or massive government programs or wealth redistribution.

I'm also hopeful that the Republican party rebounds, maybe picks up some seats in 2010 to give us a more divided government. Since I tend to lean libertarian on a lot of issue, which means I think the government should do as little as possible, I see a divided government as a good thing - it means that only the things that people really want get done.

I also think it's a good sign how close the race was. Sure, we lost by a pretty good margin. But despite having a whole lot less money, a media that loved Obama, an economy that's been painted as the worst thing since the Great Depression (over dramatically, IMHO), and a president with a 27% approval rating, 56 million people still voted Republican. That suggests to me that the Republicans may be down, but not out.

So where does the Republican party go from here? Well, it's obvious that there are a few things they need to do differently - not use public funding, put more people on the ground in battleground states, not focus on issues that don't seem to be getting a lot of public traction like the Ayers issue.

But much of it is that the party needs to nominate someone with more appeal, especially crossover appeal. McCain might have been the best we could have done this time, but I think if the Republicans nominate Huckabee or Romney or Palin in 2012, there is no chance of taking back the White House.

And that's the bigger thing - the Republicans need to work on changing their base, or demographics are going to kill the party in the long term. Right now, most of the polls seem to show that the base is older, white males. That is a shrinking base. The Republicans need to start appealing to women, to young people, to Hispanics and Asians and yes, even to African Americans. There is no reason that the Republican views on taxes or defense shouldn't have as much appeal to a middle-class small business owner who is female or black as it does to a white male.
The Republicans need to figure out how to sell that.

I think focusing on some of the better parts of libertarianism would help - not the Ron Paul populist part, but less government, especially on social issues. The challenging part is doing this without alienating the hardcore religious in the party.

One interesting thing that I've read in a few places, including this article by the lovely Kim Strassel, is that part of the problem is that the Dems have moved to the right on a lot of issues. Welfare has been reformed. Obama managed to wrap his government handouts as "tax cuts", taking the Republican's favorite selling point. Despite a record of voting for super-restrictive gun laws, Obama recast himself as a friend of the hunter and target shooter because gun control has become a losing issue. Republicans need to take these issues back.

Or maybe they will get lucky and the Dems will move back to the left, will see their wins as an indicator that Americans want to move to the hard left when in reality I suspect most are in the middle. That would be the best thing that could happen to the Republicans. But they can't count on that - they need to start figuring out how to sell the party again.

I'm hoping that this is an opportunity to strengthen the party long-term - but I'm not overly optomistic about it.


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