With the GOP heading to the Advance this weekend, and given that I am now in new digs (although I may yet succumb to peer pressure and grab the Conway/VP/VV format), I thought this previous post was worth rewinding. Enjoy.
I get that folks tend not to listen to me. I have great ideas, great concepts, but they are not everyone’s cup of tea. My wife is kind enough to listen, but heavily filters-and, frankly, rightly so. My boss listen’s half way, but typically doesn’t hear. My kids don’t hear me at all until the third time I say something.
Still, when you say something that is so clearly correct and the target is non-responsive…well, that is bothersome.
A year ago in the wake of the Kilgore 2005 loss, many GOP types were extoling the need for a convention to select more electable statewide nominees. I offered up this post rebutting the idea, and said:
“The real key to winning elections is parties that stand for something. The key lies with candidates who promise not just to lead but offer real and achievable ideas that will better the lives of all the citizens that candidate wants to represent and workable plans to make those ideas reality. The key lies with candidates who excite and motivate the party base to work and persuade the undecided voters to believe.”
The GOP clearly did not do this in 2006, and were further hampered in Virginia by an Allen campaign that found new ways to stumble. Compare George Allen’s reaction to the “macaca” incident to Michael Richards, who after a horrible racial epithet loaded run-in with a heckler in LA immediately went on David Letterman to apologize. This is right out of the Kennedy playbook-screw up, apologize immediately, cauterize the wound, stop the bleeding, and move on. Nonetheless, the reason why this was able to happen was because the GOP has lost its way and has moved far away from either Goldwater-Reagan convservatism or the cut government tenets of the 1994 “Contract with America”. Instead, the GOP was seen as being primarily interested in staying in power so as to keep power for the sake of having power. Exceptions like Frank Wolf scored comfortable victories in the face of a Democratic wave because they stand for something.
But the Webb campaign was not much better. While it was a tactical masterpiece of running a campaign and taking advantage of every opportunity, it didn’t really make a case for what the Democrats would do, only that they wouldn’t do what the GOP did. Jim Webb ultimately ran as not being George Allen or George Bush, and his lack of issue definition now has some bloggers wondering how complete his dedication to the Democratic Party is. At the national level, the Congressional Democrats are still a blank slate, and we really don’t know what they will do…even though after a campaign such as we just endured one might think that voters would be able to say with complete confidence what was going to happen.
Why is this the case? Because neither party really stands for anything beyond not being what the other guy is. There is no high level, guiding concept of what either party is grounded in. Both parties seek to protray the other as the sum of it’s most extreme parts.
I will say it here, and mark my words this statement will come true:
The first major party that is able to establish an identity for itself will run the table in 2008. It is not a matter of position papers, blogs, websites, study groups, or even individual legislation passed. It is a matter of showing the country a studied view of where the country needs to go, an explanation of how to get there, and a logical and unified concept of governance that ties it all together.
With that, Reagan 1980/84 type victories, even landslides. Without that, neither party can either hope to establish electoral dominance…or even effectively govern for the long haul.
Until they do this, the Republicans and Democrats are in trouble.