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When 72-year-old John McCain revamped his campaign for president by hiring the very same character assassins who sucker punched him in 2000, the GOP lost a consonant. They were no longer the Grand Old Party; they were just the Old Party.
When he picked Sarah Palin to be his running mate, a long simmering fissure between the moderate pragmatists and the blind ideologues rose to the surface, they were no longer a unified party and so they lost another consonant. Now they are just Old.
An article in Time Magazine points to the end of the life cycle of Reagan’s political movement. For good or for bad, Ronny dawned a new light on the US and brought new ideas and optimism to a country stymied by crime, terrorism and a financial low pressure system. Nowadays conservatives yearn for these good old days but don’t know if they should shift their gear stick into drive or reverse to get there.
For the next few years, Republicans will be forced to do something they have long resisted; a little soul searching. They will have to redefine their core values and align them with the will of the populace. (There is nothing that nudges the two majors parties toward the center than a good ass-whipping on Election Day.) But what new role will they play?
Before ’92, Republicans long held the role of a throttle on the Democrats’ agenda – tamping down on spending and pushing for discernible results with their programs. But the Republicans moral authority to guard the purse-strings evaporated with Duke Cunningham, the Bridge to Nowhere, Jack Abramoff and the exploding federal budget. Likewise, social conservatives strived to create restrictions on the cascading changes unraveling around them. Instead Ted Haggard, Mark Foley, and Larry Craig branded them with a new Scarlet Letter – H for Hypocrite.
These old roles still have a place in America, but for a while they won’t look to Republicans to fill them. It will take a while to regain their trust – even longer if Obama is all that he cracks up to be. But instead of looking to gain or retain power just for the sake of it, they should look to serve their constituents with humility and patience. Instead of knee-jerk attacks on the Democrats’ policies, look to refine them to meet your constituent’s needs. The more that you work against the other party instead of work for the people, the longer you will remain in the dog house. You won’t regain the hearts and minds of Americans until you put them above your power plays.
The losses that Republicans have seen during the past two elections could have been mitigated with a bit of self-policing. Excising Foley and Abramoff and Tom DeLay years ago may have hurt in the short-term, but would have slowed the bleeding now.
Looking to the future, you should get rid of the deadwood (Ted Stevens comes to mind) and reclaim the mantles you have abdicated to the Dems. How the hell did the Democrats become the party that looked out for the welfare of those in uniform and veterans? Between lack of Humvee armor, Walter Reed and underfunding PTSD the Democrats saw a need and filled it. Take a page from their book and find an issue they have been ignoring and embrace it.
About six years ago, I finally switched my registration from Undeclared to Democrat. I used to read the voting histories of the county dog catcher before I voted for them. This year I went D straight down the line. And I hate that the Republics have become so far removed from this country’s well-being that I can no longer consider voting for them. A country’s overall political strength is built upon the checks and balances that two or more parties give to one another.
I honestly look forward to the day I can vote for a Republican again. But they will have to come to me and the rest of America. We will not go to them.