What went wrong

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By David Lim­baugh

Has the na­tion gone ir­re­versibly blue? Did in­tra­party dis­unity sab­o­tage Mitt Rom­ney’s pres­i­den­tial quest? Or is there some other ex­pla­na­tion for the na­tion’s re-elec­tion of a pres­i­dent with the worst record in decades?

I re­ceived an email from a bril­liant con­ser­va­tive friend who won­ders whether Republicans can ever win an­other elec­tion and thus whether the na­tion is for­ever lost. I ran into a col­lege stu­dent at church the Sun­day be­fore the elec­tion, and de­spite his strong con­ser­vatism and high in­tel­li­gence, he ad­mit­ted con­fu­sion about the can­di­dates’ re­spec­tive po­si­tions af­ter the pres­i­den­tial de­bates.

My first re­ac­tion af­ter the elec­tion ver­dict was to fear both that Amer­ica’s fi­nan­cial col­lapse is now in­evitable and im­mi­nent and that Amer­ica’s im­plo­sion is in­evitable be­cause the elec­tion seemed to re­veal that the ma­jor­ity of Amer­i­cans no longer em­brace Amer­ica’s found­ing prin­ci­ples.

Even with such fa­tal­is­tic fears, I was ex­hort­ing my fel­low con­ser­va­tives on Twit­ter not to give up; no mat­ter how bad things seem, we can re­verse this. We must quit feel­ing sorry for our­selves; we must not ac­cept this death sen­tence; and we must fight on.

Af­ter sift­ing through the ev­i­dence and read­ing ev­ery­one’s ideas, I am feel­ing some­what more op­ti­mistic but nev­er­the­less rec­og­nize that the task be­fore us is enor­mous.

I think we can break con­ser­va­tive post-mortem opin­ion into roughly three camps. The first is com­posed of the de­featists, who be­lieve we have passed the tip­ping point be­cause Amer­ica now has more tak­ers than pro­duc­ers. Euro­pean so­cial­ism is here to stay.

The sec­ond is con­vinced that mostly de­mo­graphic changes did us in but we can adapt. Mi­nor­ity groups are vot­ing in greater per­cent­ages, and the Demo­cratic Party is get­ting most of their votes. We have to al­ter our ap­proach to im­mi­gra­tion and de­velop other strate­gies to reach the His­panic and African-Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties.

I worry that “outreach” could be a eu­phemism for pan­der­ing to iden­tity pol­i­tics in­stead of fig­ur­ing out ways to con­vince all peo­ple, in­clud­ing mi­nori­ties, of the su­pe­ri­or­ity of con­ser­va­tive ideas. Un­less we do that, we will have won the bat­tle and lost the war.

The third group is con­ser­va­tives who be­lieve that Rom­ney and the GOP didn’t do a good enough job mak­ing the con­ser­va­tive case and ral­ly­ing the base.

The sec­ond and third groups, at least, are not de­featist; they haven’t given up on the party or, more im­por­tantly, on the coun­try. They dis­agree in their di­ag­noses and thus in their so­lu­tions, but at least they see some light at the end of the tun­nel.

Exit polls re­veal that mil­lions of Republicans stayed home, with the GOP hav­ing gar­nered fewer votes than John McCain in 2008. This is why the poll­sters turned out to be cor­rect. They were bas­ing their mod­els on a weak Repub­li­can turnout.

There was also a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of Republicans who weren’t ad­e­quately in­formed about Obama’s record or con­vinced that his sec­ond term would be as dis­as­trous as many of us ex­pect it will be.

As many of us con­ser­va­tives have preached for years, con­trary to the con­ven­tional wis­dom of the es­tab­lish­ment, though you must woo in­de­pen­dents, you must first se­cure and en­er­gize your base. Rom­ney per­formed well with in­de­pen­dents, and I had talked my­self into be­liev­ing that he was mo­ti­vat­ing the base, as well, but hind­sight re­veals that he didn’t quite close the sale with many of them, which is amaz­ing con­sid­er­ing Obama’s record.

There is no ques­tion de­mo­graph­ics have changed sig­nif­i­cantly and will continue to change. There is no doubt that large per­cent­ages of peo­ple are on gov­ern­ment as­sis­tance, which makes the Republicans’ fu­ture more chal­leng­ing. But I re­ject the fa­tal­is­tic con­clu­sion that we can’t turn this around.

Con­ser­va­tive ideas — our found­ing prin­ci­ples — are still sal­able, but it will re­quire more than empty rhetoric. We must faith­fully ad­here to them in prac­tice. We just have to fig­ure out how to make our case more ef­fec­tively and to reach mi­nori­ties and, yes, sin­gle women, with­out di­lut­ing our tran­scen­dent and univer­sal prin­ci­ples. Outreach is fine, as long as it doesn’t mean be­com­ing minilib­er­als, as we have seen with our for­ays into fed­eral pro­grams on ed­u­ca­tion.

So let’s do a bet­ter job of walk­ing the walk in­stead of merely talk­ing the talk. Let’s have a sin­cere dis­cus­sion within the con­ser­va­tive move­ment and the Repub­li­can Party and then choose the best course on which to pro­ceed.

We must never give up. Amer­ica is not over. David Lim­baugh is the au­thor of “The Great De­stroyer”.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.