Conservatives were disappointed last week when the GOP members of the House wasted an opportunity for a fresh start in 2007. For some inexplicable reason, they decided to stay the course and overwhelmingly kept Roy Blunt as whip and John Boehner as minority leader.
The message this sends is House Republicans have not learned what ails them. A brief reminder why we didn't win the elections in D.C. is what we stood for: incompetency, infidelity, wife beating, young adult predators and the biggest spenders in history.
The House at this point is demonstrating they have no desire to get it right. Fortunately, one factor working in Republicans favor and perhaps our chance to retake Congress in 2008 is the Democrats ineptitude. Incoming speaker Nancy Pelosi demonstrated her inability to lead her own party effectively when Democrats broke with her and defeated John Murtha, her hand picked choice for majority leader, losing to Steny Hoyer.
The question will be whether the Democrats prove even less capable at running Congress than the Republicans were prior to the 2006 electoral disaster. If so, and signs certainly look that way, Republicans have a decent shot at recovery in 2008, but only if we get our act together and provide a strong, coherent conservative alternative to the political left in the Democrat party and the status quo in our own party.
The Lessons Of 2006 Can Pave The Way
To Victory For The GOP In 2008
In 2006, the GOP lost the election a lot more than the Democrats won it. That being said, the other side has gotten a lot smarter in their political efforts. In 2006, they recruited well-qualified candidates who in the south and west were pro-gun and at least moderate on abortion and they ran on such poll tested ideas as raising the minimum wage, cutting interest rates for student loans, lobby and ethics reform, requiring negotiation directly with the drug manufacturers on prices, enacting the 9/11 Commission recommendations and pay as you go (which they falsely call fiscal responsibility).
For 2008 in Texas, the other side is already using the lessons of 2006 and recruiting the right candidates to run for local, county-wide and state offices and they are beginning their fundraising. This probably means that the key election will no longer be the primary but the general election, where the focus of GOP efforts needs to be.
The GOP also needs to have a unified vision of what it stands for and what it intends to deliver. This can be accomplished by a local platform that brings together the party leadership with key elected officials. It also becomes the message the GOP sends out to voters by answering the question, if we vote for you, what will you do when you win?
The GOP needs to rediscover the building block theory of winning elections. A winning solution is comprised of many subsets. The GOP needs to identify and directly go after subsets of voters they can get their share of votes from. One thing the GOP has unfortunately neglected is a "people are policy" campaign which lets voters in particular groups know about accomplishments of interest and elected officials from their group, be they Hispanic, black, evangelical, middle class and blue collar, or pro-law enforcement.
Thoughts This Fortnight
CRADDICK-DEWHURST PROPOSE BUSTING THE STATE
SPENDING CAP FOR THE NEXT BUDGET, HUH? - In Texas, sometimes we hear things that cause one to take a double take, so most recently when the Legislative Budget Board leaders told us they have to bust the "loose" state spending cap to give property tax relief, we wonder what's going on? Keep in mind that CLOUT has sued the state over spending limits breached in 2005 and for using Enron funny numbers. Now they want to exceed the caps significantly on top of the bad numbers that fuel significant state spending increases. TCR reminds these Republicans "it's the spending, stupid." It seems Craddick and Dewhurst are determined to bring Washington style overspending to Texas. This idea needs to be flushed now or the GOP will be rewarded just as it was in D.C.
THE IRAQ QUAGMIRE, IS THE WAY OUT TALKING TO IRAN AND SYRIA? - This silly idea is so ridiculous, it amazes TCR any intelligent person is pushing it. The militias, the terrorists, and the chaos in the Iraq government is fueled by support, weapons and funding from Iran and Syria. Maybe we should punish the terror masters and not bribe them or roll over for them. One other thing, the concept that if we only create a Palestinian (new terror) state that the problems in Iraq will go away is beyond the pale and so idiotic and it's not worthy of serious discussion. Simply said, Iraq and the issues surrounding it have zero to do with Israel. Hatred of the Judeo-Christian world is what fuels this war. Israel is a beacon of sanity in an otherwise dangerous and unstable Middle East and a loyal ally of the U.S.
IS THE DEMOCRAT OLD GUARD DOOMED? - The New York Times Magazine on 11/19/06 has an article by Matt Bai with an interesting take on the future of American politics. He believes the anxiety in the electorate is based on what he calls "the creeping chaos - the sense that leaders no longer have a firm grasp on events or the credibility to unite disparate constituencies."
They think Bush and his allies have lost the capacity to admit and fix their own mistakes. In addition, he adds:
"Thoughtful and dynamic leadership, after all, require a willingness to negotiate and a tolerance for dissent - which is the main reason that Republicans now find themselves glumly packing boxes rather than gleefully packing the courts…After the midterms, that tidal resentment has now washed away both of our old governing philosophies: the expansive and often misguided liberalism that dominated American politics up through the 1970s, as well as the impractical, mean-spirited brand of conservatism that rose up in reaction to it…It may be, then, that we have just witnesses the last big election of the 20th century; the question now is what kind of different, more relevant ideologies might rise from the ruins…This is why the new Democratic majority in Washington may fare no better in addressing the nation's modern preoccupations than the Republican majority that preceded it. At week's end, democrats were preparing to name two 66-year-olds, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, as Senate majority leader and House Speaker. In the House, Pelosi will be supported by new committee chairmen including longtime liberals like Barney Frank of Massachusetts and Charles Rangel of New York...But the party remains reluctant to make room for its next generation, a pragmatic and talented group - led, perhaps, by Rahm Emanuel, the chief strategist behind the House elections. But the party that controls the next era of American politics may well be the one whose long-serving leasers can eventually summon the wisdom to step out of the way"...
TCR Comment: Will the one who learns the lessons of the 2006 election first, have the upper hand for the next decade?
RETURNING - (Friday, January 12, 2007 at 8 pm) to Channel 8 PBS in Houston, Texas - The Connection - Red, White & Blue, featuring TCR Editor Gary Polland and liberal commentator David Jones. The leading bi-weekly public affairs television show on the Gulf Coast with outstanding and important guests.
About Your Editor
Gary Polland is a long-time conservative and Republican spokesman, fund-raiser, and leader who recently completed three terms as the Harris County Republican Chairman. During his three terms, Gary was described as the most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events - The National Conservative Weekly. He is in his ninth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last four years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant and can be reached at (713) 621-6335.