It’s been roughly 12 hours since Ohio went blue last night. And let me tell you, it’s been a long twelve hours. But like all things in life, this too shall pass. While today may feel like the first of many long days to come, I am confident tomorrow is a new day and will bring with it new reasons for optimism. Okay, maybe not tomorrow tomorrow; but soon.
You see, in this great nation we are blessed with the unique opportunity of political experimentation. Our federal system affords us 50 states to use as laboratories for perfecting the craft of governance, social accountability, and personal responsibility. Our electoral model allows every two (or four) years for one party to assume temporary control of government; but said control is just that – temporary. Yes, elections have consequences; but records and results do as well. The impulse is to expect short term repercussions for promises that appear left unfulfilled and records that leave us wanting. But as Tuesday’s election demonstrated, the equation that balances records, results, consequences, and repercussions is anything but an exact science. Sometimes a reckoning takes… time.
I’ve spent the hours since the presidential election was conceded last night/this morning watching, reading, and listening to pundits, prognosticators, and politicians attempt to explain what happened yesterday and why the Republican message seems to have missed the mark. One could spend countless hours cataloging the many hypotheses and explanations. One could offer a million ways to pick apart our party, our candidate, and our priorities. One could; but what’s the point?
From where I sit, nearly every grand idea or explanation presented the day after an electoral defeat such as this is nothing more than an indication of a feeling or inclination said pundit realized all along; but attempted to bury or hide deep down so it wouldn’t be revealed to the opposition during the campaign. Someone who follows politics on a daily basis would have to intentionally turn a blind eye to the facts in front of him to not know his party’s (or his candidate’s) inherent weaknesses and flaws. Moreover, if a pundit or prognosticator is blind to those realities, he or she is not long for the profession; or shouldn’t be.
We know where and why we fell short. Our gut was fearful all along. The only question is whether we have any intention of doing anything about it now?
To be clear, I don’t pretend to be the world’s greatest pundit or political mind. I started this humble blog what now seems like forever ago with the hope not of changing minds, but only to demonstrate the ability to do so. I have grown and “evolved” with my readers over the years, have hardened my stance on some issues, and have opened my mind to others. My core principles have been a constant, but the peripheral debates and my positions on them have seen some movement. I call it growth. I know that’s a dirty word to some, but I’m cool with it. No one really likes those people anyway.
As bloggers go, I readily admit that I’m probably among the worst in the business. I spend more time writing elsewhere or banging out content for this site that I know no one will ever actually read than I do actually promoting this site or doing those things that bloggers are supposed to do. Truth be told, I’m not even sure what it bloggers are supposed to be doing.
Then why do it? Because like our great American system, I see this site as a laboratory for ideas and experimentation. I see it as an opportunity to engage in political debate with passionate and articulate minds – Left, Right, and Center. The end result? A very average blog in terms of performance, a whole lot of headaches, and a great deal of personal and political growth for the blogger behind it.
Why do I share any of that?
You might have noticed. This site is not “Republican Robot.” It’s not “Go Along Republican.” And for what it’s worth, it’s not “Down the Middle Politics”, either. It’s Republican Redefined; always has been; and always will be.
The name implies a few things. To some it implies arrogance. Who is this guy to “redefine” what it means to be republican? To others it evokes fear that RINO’s run amok herein. If he wants to change things, he can’t be one of us – troll! And to many more, it just says Republican; and that is all they really need.
I like the ones that keep it simple.
To me, it has always said two things. First, Republican. There’s no talk around here of third parties or “throwing out the baby with the bath water.” We’re righting this ship or we’re going down with it. Period. Second, Redefined. While I’d take the shortcomings of this Party over the other choice any day of the week, and twice on Sunday, we do have out fair share of shortcomings. We have our flaws. We have our weaknesses. We have our hypocrisies and we have our contradictions. If you’re a Republican and you haven’t realized that by now, maybe Tuesday will serve as a wake up call.
As a Party, we have but two choices. 1) Continue doing the same things we’ve done for 50 years – running primaries that produce robotic drones destined for a malfunction or a talking points overload; waiting idly by for the electorate to wake up, see the facts before them, and come our way; and pointing to the glory years of Reagan and calling upon the “Greatest Generation” to come and save us. Or 2) We “wake up” and realize that the timeline of history has moved on and that if we are to remain as the last line of defense for the American way of life, the American Dream, and the vision of our Founding Fathers; we are going to have to get to work.
No, I’m not saying it is time to abandon principle. It’s not time to throw out the platform. But make no mistake about it, we’re getting killed in the messaging and strategy department. On issues from Health Care to Immigration Reform, we were silent or without solutions for far too long. We can be the “Party of Life” without running ridiculous candidates that get so bogged down attempting to prove it that they alienate the other 50% of the electorate. We can be the party that embraces legal immigration and secure borders without turning away a population that appears to a natural fit and new voice for our conservative message. We can be the party of the 21st Century without abandoning our past; but we can’t remain shackled by it, or the contest for the future will be lost.
My friends, the Republican Party is not broken. Our cause is just. Our principles are sound. Our compass has merely frozen. We’ve been marching in the same direction for so long that we’re not even sure when the needle stopped moving.
It’s time to stop, look within, find our bearings, and begin to move forward with a new sense of clarity and purpose. Just like a business in the Free Market must reinvent itself, redefined itself, from time-to-time or begin losing its competitive advantage; we too must begin the process of forming a new and inviting party for tomorrow’s generation or we will be left behind in the Free Market of ideas.
Political movements are not long on the tree before they must be picked or fall to the ground and begin anew.
Now is the time for watering. Not for picking.