Saturday, November 15, 2008

GOP Should Prepare For A Long Wander In The Wilderness

In the wreckage of the second failed Bush presidency as well another clear electoral loss after a Bush presidency, the GOP is scrambling to figure what went wrong and how to revive themselves for 2012. But the reality is that they are not so much in the driver's seat of their own destiny as are the Democrats whose success or failure is more likely than anything the GOP can do at this point to revive their political fortunes.

It will be up to President Obama and the Democratic majority in congress to deliver on a revival of the American economy and a big improvement in society and other important issues. More than anything, this alone will determine whether the voting public will turn out some Democrats in the 2010 midterm elections or not. But I think it is highly unlikely that President Obama will make the same mistakes like a Jimmy Carter, or appoint ineffective persons to deal with the economy and other important issues. If anything, Obama will carefully choose the best minds to deal with important issues, so the GOP can't really count on failure here. The biggest question is will the new solutions will work and whether they will they work before the 2010 midterm elections take place. The economy will be a stubborn problem to deal with for sure, and there certainly will be more major failures of major segments of the American economy before things begin to improve. That can't be avoided. Major economic cycles cannot be reversed overnight. But the GOP can't count on much help from Democratic failures here because the Obama Administration will make every effort to succeed.

During the 2008 election while Barack Obama talked about the economy, John McCain wanted to talk about Bill Ayers and other fringe issues that the public wasn't really interested in. And now the GOP finds their political base largely reduced down to just parts of the old Confederacy and some parts of the West. The GOP has to prove that they are a party that can manage a government again in the future, and move beyond a fringe issue party. And no, political lightweight Sarah Palin is not the future of their party either.

Part of the problem is also that the GOP has substantially reduced it's base of support by the divisive issue of illegal immigration which managed to turn out big Hispanic margins of around 70% for the Democrats in 2008, and helped to cost the Republicans Florida, Nevada and New Mexico, as well as the election. The GOP is now faced with proving that there is not substantial racism against the Hispanic community within their party if they want to have any real hopes in the future of winning national elections, otherwise they start out at an electoral disadvantage. And the GOP cannot win elections by only being the party of White people. It needs to win substantial numbers of persons of color and ethnic groups in the future, as White voters are declining numbers of all voters.

And another big problem is that the GOP seems to find the wrong issues to focus on, like for example right now. They are more interested in running more candidates for public office, when the public really wants to hear solutions to the current economic mess, not more about elections or running more candidates. If anything points to a GOP that doesn't get, it is issues such as this. The GOP had eight years under Bush to produce results, but instead left the country with nothing but problems, and now only wants to talk about running more candidates for office. It is absurd.

But the biggest problem for the GOP is that President Obama is unlikely to tank or disappoint the public. He is a highly competent politician who is willing to do whatever it takes to get results. This virtually ensures that he will win re-election in 2012, and probably by a bigger margin than in 2008. Likely the voters will give him at least eight years to try to change the country. And if he is highly successful, then another strong Democrat could even succeed him in 2016. Likely in 2012, the strongest GOP candidates will avoid this year, leaving a weaker tier of candidates to go through the motions of a losing effort to a big re-election win by Obama.

The fact of the matter is that the GOP needed to have more success in governing during the Bush years, but instead allowed huge problems such as Iraq, the economy, Katrina, and a drip-drip of other problems to only build. Now it will be difficult for this party to regain substantial power for quite some time. When you lose power, it's hard to come back again.

The GOP needs to brace themselves for a long period of wandering in the wilderness.

About the only real hope that the GOP can have is that some voters might become complacent or ungrateful if the Democrats restore wealth and prosperity to the nation. And indeed sometimes the voters do have short memories. In 2000, voters let some anger over Bill Clinton's Oval Office antics harm Al Gore, forgetting about the larger issue of the stronger economy under much of the Clinton years. Sometimes in anger a person does stupid things, including voters.

Voters with a short memory remind me of the joke about the little boy who was playing in the sand down at the beach, but then suddenly a big tide swept him out to sea, and his mother cried out, "God, God. If you bring back my son, I'll never ask for anything ever again. I'd be so grateful". Suddenly a miracle tide emerged and swept the little boy back to safety on the beach. At first the mother hugged the boy, but then looked to Heaven and proclaimed, "Yeah, but he had a hat!". Voters are unfortunately the very same way. They go in and out like tides, and often forget who brought them prosperity. About the best future hope of the GOP after 2012 might be that voters will remain this same way if the Democrats succeed in making the economy strong again. Otherwise the problems for the GOP might be generational.


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