When Benjamin Franklin, the oldest delegate (and most world-famous member) at the Constitutional Convention, exited the hall, tradition says that a woman asked him what form of government they have given us. “A republic, madam,” the sage of Pennsylvania is said to have replied. “If you can keep it.”
Well, the Republican Party has finally regained control of the U.S. Senate, for the time being, with the magnificent 2014 wave election – and yes, it WAS a wave election (as leftist Joe Trippi said, “you don’t get wavier than this!”) – but the Republicans must still be concerned with the question set before us by the political landscape of the next two years: The American people have given us a majority… now let’s see if we can keep it.
It won’t be easy. The 2014 tsunami was largely a perfect storm for the Republican Party, in that the Democrats had to defend more seats than the GOP, many of which were in Republican states. 2016 will be the opposite, with the Republicans defending incumbent Senators in hostile territory, in a presidential year that won’t be nearly as favorable. Incumbent majorities have a greater challenge than the opposition, in that the GOP won’t be able to run against Harry Reid next time, while the Democrats will be able to run against Mitch McConnell (the presumed majority leader).
The Republican approach of individual campaigns without a national effort, state-by-state issues rather than a national theme, cannot be expected to prevail in that atmosphere. Before the GOP gets too self-congratulatory over the amazing victories of November 2014 – practically running the table with Senate and Governorships from coast to coast – let’s contemplate what needs to be changed to win – and to deserve to win! – next time.
The Republican Party continues its imbecilic national non-strategy of dismissing vote fraud, or leaving it up to the states. There is a 30-year-old consent decree that forbids the national GOP from most challenges to vote fraud, that’s true… but A) it’s far less limiting than it’s presented, and B) it can and should be challenged and overturned.
Now that the US Senate is firmly in Republican hands, it’s time for the GOP to lead by talking about the issues that have gone untouched out of fear and complacency for far too long. The Democrats have dozens of different approaches for stealing votes, many of which are small on their own, but which, when added up, likely total millions of votes per election nationwide.
For example, a recent independent study proved that four to six percent of non-citizens (both legal and illegal) vote in our elections. When the researchers estimated the number of non-citizens at the levels that Democrats admit to being in the USA, they had to admit that this method alone was responsible for the narrowest victories, such as Al Franken’s 2008 Senate “win.” But when we double the estimate to the number of illegals more rationally assumed to be present in the USA, particularly counting these past couple years’ influx, this statistic proves to be most likely responsible for dozens of close seats.
Other well-known Democrat methods of vote fraud include people with two homes registering and voting in both places, corrupt party officials casting absentee ballots for fictional or dead registrations, blocking military votes by scheduling the balloting so that those stationed abroad can’t make it back in time, and sending busloads of homeless and patronage workers from precinct to precinct all day long, voting different names in as many as twenty or thirty polling places over the course of a day.
The states CAN control these issues on their own, but they need a national wave of shaming to gain the respect to take corrective measures, especially since the Democrats cry RACIST every time anyone brings up the subject.
It is likely that any Democrat who wins a statewide or even congressional-district sized seat by less than five percent has won it on the back of stolen and fictional votes – whether the specific candidate himself knows it and blessed it or not. Look at states like New Hampshire and Virginia, where the GOP looks like it lost narrowly to the Democrats. In all likelihood, if there were any way to tabulate only the real votes and exclude the fake ones, the GOP really did win those outright. But without requirements for Real ID and a fear of prosecution of all practitioners of vote fraud, there is no way to prove it.
The Republican Party can no longer rely on courageous independent groups like True the Vote for this effort; we need the GOP to display leadership and end vote fraud for good.
The GOP establishment’s war with the base is a potentially fatal cancer that must be corrected, and fast. There has always been a rivalry between the right and the middle in the Republican Party, and that’s unavoidable. We have a diverse party, with variety on all three legs of the Republican stool (economic, social, and foreign policy); of course our primaries will often be hard-fought. That much can’t be helped; as long as the Democrats are the party of the socialists, virtually everyone who can’t stomach socialism has to crowd into the Republican tent. And that makes the Republican tent almost unmanageably inclusive.
But even so… the battles of 2014 in such states as Illinois, Mississippi, and Kansas are terribly disruptive, and pose a long-term threat to the very survival of the GOP as a national party. The tea party movement, largely populated by relative newcomers to politics, perhaps doesn’t know as well how much compromise is indeed necessary in politics, but by the same token, the vindictiveness of the establishment when it defeats a conservative is – to use an old cliché – cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.
The GOP has long believed that it could abuse the right, on the simple statement “Where else can they go?!”
But that theory – which had validity in the 1960s when the wings were closer together – has less and less validity today. The establishment Republicans – call them the moderates, the liberals, the RINOs, whatever you like – must learn that cheating to win a primary (as the Barbour/Cochran faction clearly did in Mississippi) and publicly attacking the conservatives with the same attacks that Democrats use (using terms like “racist” and “extremist” and “fringe”) is a great way to destroy the coalition and cause the split into a third party scenario that we have long feared.
In particular, both conservatives and the establishment need to take the long view and stop clinging to a three, four, or five term incumbent so old that he may be able to win this time, but he’ll make the seat unwinnable next time. The Cochran and Roberts seats are particularly strong examples of this problem: in 2014, both gentlemen were challenged by younger, more vibrant candidates who could have not only won this year, but could have easily held the seats in 2020, when such defense will be far more difficult. A responsible party leadership would have talked the incumbents into retiring this year, not pulled out the stops to keep them in office until they took root there, ensuring that 2020 will be far harder than it had to be!
A National Wave
Yes, this was a wave election. This many pickups, this many surprises, cannot be attributed to the luck or GOTV efforts or individual campaign talents of each state or each candidate who won. Clearly, the Democrats are in disarray, at a nadir of popularity and confidence that opinion polls only hinted at, but only an actual election can confirm. And heaven knows, this nadir on their part is deserved, after so many years of toxic policies and behavior in office.
But that’s not enough to be sustainable. The GOP has continued to fail to campaign the way that a national party MUST in order to win new voters to its philosophy and approach for the long term. The current method of individual campaigning makes every election a fresh effort, in which we must start from scratch to appeal to all voters. Why?
The GOP does stand for a solid, coherent set of policies. Its national platform remains generally clear and consistent, declaring the Republicans as the party of employment and economic growth, of individual freedom and social responsibility, in line with the Founding Fathers’ values of capitalism, responsible limited government, and the Judeo-Christian tradition. But even though we all “know” this, the average voter never hears it.
Oh, the voter hears bits and pieces of it from his candidates, one by one, but never from a single source, like a TV or radio commercial, tying everything together and saying “This is what it means to be a Republican; if you agree, please vote for us for EVERY office!”
There are many reasons why this action is necessary. For one thing, it’s proven to work. Yes, we had landslides in 2010 and 2014, but these landslides are not built on fundamentals that will convert people, so with the electoral map changes and voter participation changes of presidential elections, the gains are likely to be reversed two years later. On the contrary, nationalized elections like 1980 and 1994 have true legs over several cycles, because the unifying messages of the landslide year stay with the voters.
Consider the seats that were narrowly lost - or even not so narrowly - from statewide seats to local races. Party and message unity could have made the difference - two, three, five, even ten points. How could the GOP retain the governorship in Michigan, and pick up the governorship in Illinois, but lose both senate races? Ten percent of the voters in those two states voted for the Republican for Governor, but picked the Democrat for Senator. Unity of message and advertising could have made that difference, and more. Instead of losing both offices in New Hampshire, they could both have been wins.
In 1980, both the national Republican Party and such bright lights in the conservative movement as NCPAC produced brilliant TV and Radio commercials, not attacking or supporting individual candidates, but showing the failures of Democrats in general, and touting the advantages of the Republicans in general. We haven’t done so since, and we haven’t had such successes since.
If the GOP has a million dollars, it writes ten checks for a hundred grand each to the candidates it favors – or twenty checks for fifty grand each, or a hundred checks for ten grand each, so that every state rep and state senator and congressional candidate owes the party his or her thanks.
But if the party instead spent that million on a generic ad buy for Republicans in general, tying together, for example, Pat Quinn, Dick Durbin, Tammy Duckworth and Rahm Emanuel, the failed leaders of a failed system, then every Republican on the ballot would benefit from such advertising, not only the ones that get their own checks.
We drive through metro areas like Chicago that have dozens of state legislative and congressional districts, and we hear radio commercials for one candidate filling the airwaves. That means that one person has spent the money to cover the entire metro, only to reach the voters of a tiny sliver of the station’s audience. This is insane.
If the GOP is ever to insulate itself from the untrue attacks of the Democrats and their shills in the entertainment and news media, it MUST return to the 1980 formula of broad “Vote Republican” advertising.
The schools, the pop culture, the news media, and even many so-called churches are all united in a 24/7 effort to slander the Republican Party. If we want the 2014 election to have legs, the Republican Party – and the conservative movement – need to do more to fight back, by focusing our attention on the real villains of modern politics.
We don’t suffer corruption, violence, economic hardship, and political gridlock because of individual Democrats like Harry Reid and Barack Obama. We suffer these things because they are part and parcel of the Democratic Party agenda.
And it’s time the American people were told so, throughout election time, by a party that’s proud of what it stands for.
Copyright 2014 John F. Di Leo
John F. Di Leo is a Chicago-based international trade compliance lecturer. A movement conservative in the 1980s and a minor party official in the 1990s (serving one term as Milwaukee County Republican Party Chairman), he has now been a recovering politician for 17 years.
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