Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Message To The GOP: No More McCain, No More Huck, A Lot More Reagan Please

John McCain is a war hero. Unfortunately, that about exhausts the characteristics that I can identify in his personality which made him a "great" pick for the party's leadership. If we're being honest, he was a profoundly mediocre candidate. He made a strategically interesting veep choice (and, for the record, I highly doubt a different choice would have produced a significantly different result) but his campaign was otherwise strategically ineffective. He focused on branding himself as The Maverick rather than exploiting the ample opportunity that the economic crisis presented him with from a policy standpoint. Most importantly, he failed to court the Americans that can be counted on to win you elections: the capitalists.

The Reagan Coalition is not dead; it's just dormant. There have been some important changes to the demographics - particularly the electoral play that social conservatism on the issues of abortion and gay marriage get - but not very many. A successful Republican Party will court the voters that have been active since Barry Goldwater's glorious (albeit ill-fated) campaign in 1964. The consequences of failing to do so are clear in last night's results.

I'm skeptical, however, about the chances of the GOP succeeding in saving their party in the short term. The McCains of the party (and, according to an unfortunate interview I saw yesterday, the Pawlentys) would tack to the center on economics and foreign policy and take the pragmatist approach. On the other hand, the Huckabees of the party would drag them further along the path towards an entirely religion-dominated platform. Neither of these models reflect the Reagan Coalition as it survives today. If the Republican Party wants to rebuild itself, if it truly has an interest in winning elections again, then it will drop the evangelical 'tude, tone it back on the social issues, and remember that Republicans used to be Capitalists, and that most Americans still are.

Four years of President Obama ought to be enough to remind the United States of the consequences of allowing the culture of entitlement to have free reign. While the moochers suckle on the teat of an expanding government, entrepreneurs and businessmen and women will fail because Obama is so eager to "spread the wealth".

This election was a wake-up call for the Republicans. Free markets, free people. This is what America wants. Why not give it back to them?

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