I read two posts yesterday which reminded me of a notion I’d been pondering for some time. Here’s the idea in a nutshell: While the Democrats continue to lose favor with the American people as they propose increased government spending and regulation as the solution to every problem, the GOP (while taking some important strides in the right direction) has not yet presented itself as a viable alternative.
Given Democratic control of Congress and the White House, Republicans still have time to come up with solutions. After all, Republican Congressmen and congressional candidates did not sign the Contract with America until September 27, 1994, just six weeks before the fall elections which would return control of Congress to the GOP for the first time in forty years.
In the first post, Jim Geraghty reflected on the decline on Obama’s fortunes, but cautioned that this may not be a boon for the opposing party:
On Election Day 2008, many Americans didn’t like where they were. Nearly a year later, they still don’t like where they are; they feel like they’re stuck with the same problems or that they’re worsening. But they’re not convinced that the Republicans have the solutions. For the Right, the job is barely halfway done.
The second had a more peevish tone, almost like that of a child upset that he didn’t get an engraved invitation to a public forum advertised on the Internet (and in the local paper). Bruce Bartlett, who makes some good points about the GOP going off track during the George W. Bush years, repeats a lot of nonsense about the state of the party, suggesting he gets his news from left-wing blogs and a hostile media:
I think the Republican Party is in the same boat the Democrats were in in the early eighties — dominated by extremists unable to see how badly their party was alienating moderates and independents. . . . I will know that the party is on the path to recovery when someone in a position of influence reaches out to former Republicans like me. We are the most likely group among independents to vote Republican. But I see no effort to do so. All I see is pandering to the party’s crazies like the birthers .
Pandering to the birthers? Huh? Who? Where? Didn’t the GOP caucus in the House vote overwhelmingly (with no opposition) vote in favor of a bill recognizing Hawai’i as the President’s birth place?
If Bartlett really wants to influence the GOP, why is he waiting for an invitation? Why doesn’t he craft some position papers and write some op-eds on what he thinks the party should be doing and where it should be going instead of whining about how bad it is. (Or suggesting just what the GOP needs to do to reach out to alienated Reaganites like him.)
He’s a smart guy and has done a lot of good work for our party. A lot.
The GOP needs solutions if we are ever to recapture and retain the majority. And we need smart thinkers in the Reaganite mold, to held craft them. Whining about how bad things are won’t help the party correct its faults.
Offering constructive solutions will.
Consider this: The Democrats did well in ’06 and ’08 in large part by being the non-Republicans at a time when the party in power was becoming increasingly unpopular. Yet, once in power, their numbers have plummeted. It is entirely likely that the GOP could do well in 2010 merely by being the “not Democrats”
But, if the GOP wants to use that party to good end, we need to become more than just the “not Democrats.” That’s why we need solutions. Bartlett is right to some extent. Republicans have not yet done the work they need to do.
He’s wrong, however, to see them pandering to the extremists. Republicans need develop solutions to today’s problems based on the principles which Ronald Reagan articulated so eloquently (and persuasively) in the last third of the Twentieth Century.
UPDATE, another related post, Republican Voters Say GOP Reps in Congress Still Out of Touch