I saw this brief story at Talking Points Memo that made me wonder about the Republican comeback and what that might look like.
The story read as follows: "Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), the highest ranked House Republican woman, said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union":
"I don't think it's about the Republican Party needing to become more moderate; I really believe it's the Republican Party becoming more modern," she said. "And whether it's Hispanics, whether it's women, whether it's young people, the Republican Party has to make it a priority to take our values, to take our vision to every corner of this country."Such an interesting statement so soon after a significant defeat, but one that is to be expected. Should Republicans dare to go the moderate route and risk being laughed right out of town? Of course not. You can't go from hating everyone who is non-white and male, applauding the idea of someone without healthcare dying, and talk about rape as being God's plan to all of a sudden supporting gay marriage, caring about poor people, offering amnesty for Mexicans and respecting a vagina. It is just not believable.
"I think it's more about the messenger and who's communicating our values to every corner of this country."
No, something else has to be done to woo these same demographics into the Republican fold. It is absolutely necessary for the GOP's survival, but it won't be easy.
What Republicans need to do, and what I expect they will do in the coming months, is to lay off the gays, immigration, vaginas and poor people and instead focus solely on the economy and the size of government. These are steady, benign, non-racially charged issues that poll well with all kinds of people. Had Republicans truly stuck to this meme and not strayed into rape talk and bashing 47% of the country they may have actually pulled it off.
As a result of their huge loss though, Republicans now have to lay low. They need to go to the mattresses on the hot button issues that were soundly defeated this time around.
However, Republicans know that they still have the economy on their side. Nearly sixty million people voted for Romney to "fix" the economy. That issue has not gone away. I do not believe Obama was re-elected on the economy alone and do not believe the President was given a mandate on that issue. He actually still has a lot to prove to those red states and to those states where the vote was really close.
The reality is, Republicans did not lose on the economy. They lost on the crazy, and in keeping with Rep. Rogers statement Republicans do not know how to be anything else. They have turned crazy into an art form and have worked too hard and too long to just give it up.
Nevertheless, as with any loss there is some sucking up to do in the short term while they save face and plan for a comeback. To get those people who moved away from them this year, Republican's may have to, as Bill O'Reilly so eloquently put it, give them stuff in the short term; gay marriage, legal pot, amnesty, abortions, school loans, higher taxes for rich people, leaving Big Bird alone. This will be bad medicine going down, but once they get past the foul taste they may find that the same people who would never vote (R) might see a party willing to ease up on social issues and truly work on what they are experts in: ruining the economy and starting wars. In terms of those two areas, crazy wins every time.
Of course this is not going to happen in the short term. The recent crop of Republicans who were ousted in 2012 is a testament to that. But then Rep. Rodgers ended her comment with what could be the most telling aspect of this whole thing:
"I think it's more about the messenger and who's communicating our values to every corner of this country."She may be right. Rest assured, one day some actor or evangelist or smooth talking, charismatic personality will arise once more to take back the party. It is inevitable. Once that happens, then everything I said is out the window. Let's face it, the only reason Romney won the first debate was because Obama didn't show. However, put Obama up against a Ronald Reagan or a plain talking simpleton like George W. and things may not go so well for Dems next time.
Remember, if this was really about voting for a liberal agenda then Al Gore and/or John Kerry would have defeated an obvious failure like Bush. But it was not to be. Remember too that Obama will not be running next time. Put someone like Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton up against a thinner Chris Christie or a good looking Scott Brown type with a pickup truck and things may look a whole lot different in 2016.
For now, assume terrorist looking Muslims will remain easy targets while Mexicans, gays and vaginas will become a little less threatening. But if someone comes along who makes those nearly sixty million feel inspired once more then look for the scales to tip back into the Republican's favor. When that happens look too for the crazy return in full force.
Anytime you doubt this just remember "freedom fries." That happened and will happen again. That's a promise.
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