Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What We Learned

Well, I'm not sure how much we can legitimately learn from yesterday's election results. We got our butts kicked, and good (and that's to say nothing of the 1st District, which I'll speak to once we have a result). Here are some of the lessons learned from the 2008 Presidential Election.

  • Democrat Light is no way to go: Unfortunately, it looks like a lot of the calls of the Anybody but McCain camp from 2006 looked increasingly prescient. McCain was never a darling of conservatives due to his generalized support of larger government. Sure, McCain always stood up for lower tax cuts and an end to pork-barrel spending, but his comments and support of the Wall Street Bailout were consistent with many big government positions that he has taken over the years.

    What the American public told Republicans yesterday was that when Republicans race toward the center in an effort to look like Democrats...voters select the genuine article.

  • The Republican Brand Sucks: We have talked extensively about the branding of the Republican party over the years, and I'm pretty sure that the value of the brand has reached its post-Watergate era nadir. I said back in July:
    the problem with Republican politics in the 21st century is not the ideology of conservatism, but leadership that itself is not conservative. Once we figure out how to fix that, Republicans will reassume the mantle of ascendancy that we lost when Congressional leadership went native a few years back.
    And it's pretty clear that we didn't do a very good job of that recently. Just take a look at the results and you'll see that. How else can you explain losses in North Carolina, a near loss in Georgia, a razor thin win in Missouri. These are Republican strongholds in Presidential Elections, and we couldn't hold on to them. It's not because these voters aren't naturally conservatives, it's just that they could no longer tell the differences between the Democratic Party and their own.

  • Sarah Palin saved the day: Anybody who thinks that Sarah Palin lost this election is out of their mind. This election was realistically over not too long after the convention, we can see from hindsight. And let's face it, can you look me in the eye and tell me Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, or anybody else would have made a significant difference in the outcome, enough to tip the election? Of course not. People blaming this loss on Sarah Palin simply do not understand electoral politics.

    What Sarah Palin did do, however, is energize the conservative base. When conservatives are energized, they go to the polls, and take their friends and family to the polls with them. And what that did was get enough conservatives in the booth voting for downballot Republican candidates, particularly members of Congress. It seems pretty likely that the reason that we lost but 12 seats in the House of Representatives is squarely because of Sarah Palin.
Now, we put it all behind us, but we do not forget. It's our job to move forward, take what we have learned, and put the best foot forward for 2010 and beyond...



not ready for commie-time said...

I re-registered earlier this year as a member of the Constitution Party. The GOP no longer represents fundamental conservative values (liberty, national sovereignty, free markets, and minimal federal government among those most important to me) and I feel that the lessons that you outline here (while obvious to you and I) will not be learned collectively by the GOP until they continue to lose for at least another election cycle or two. Frankly, I’m convinced that we will never make positive changes in government until the two party system is seriously challenged. The Constitution Party possesses a turnkey, fundamentally conservative platform, and I encourage other estranged Republicans to research them as I have.

G. A. Harrison said...

Dead On!

streiff said...

I'm letting this pass for the time being.

The Constitution has 0 elected officials in office at the state level. When they have a couple of governors and some members in the House then feel free to flog them as an alternative.

For better or for worse, the Republican party is the party of conservatism. Until that changes there will be no promoting of third parties here.

not ready for commie-time said...

Thank you oh so much for your graciousness, King Streiff. Why even bother having comments turned on? Do you simply want an echo chamber similar to FSP, or would you be bold enough to allow fellow conservatives like myself to freely speak about the state of the GOP in Maryland?

My point: The fact of the matter is that the GOP is no longer the party of conservatism. There are a few scattered about the party that represent me, but they are the minority within the party. Maybe as a result of this election, the GOP will reverse course, maybe they won't. I'm not waiting around to find out.

While I can see that my post may appear to have been a promotion of the Constitution Party, I felt that simply stating that I was leaving the GOP for a third party could be mistaken for liberal troll-speak. I am a conservative, and I am going to a true conservative party. I will work to build that number of elected officials that you use to dismiss my comments, and I'm sure there are a lot of other Maryland conservatives who feel the way I do.

I enjoy your blog, and I will continue to read it, but realize this: Conservatism does not necessarily equal Republican Party.

wind river said...

My vote went to Baldwin.

wind river said...

After reading your answer Streiff, I agree but it MUST rid itself of the "old guard" to be viable again. Jindel and Palin and those under 50 are MUST be the new look and idealism of the New GOP. Not GOP lite but GOP for the 21st century. When the Democrats have gone Commando Guerrilla Dem, the old tired GOP is destined for the rocking chair on the porch.

streiff said...

Feel free to speak about the state of Maryland and conservatism. That's what we're about.

If you want to continue to feel marginalized stay with whatever third party you wish. I'll just not have it promoted on this site because in our system third parties simply aren't viable.

When you get some people elected and show that you can raise money -- or even start a Constitution Party in Maryland blog (I'll give you a link) -- we can discuss promoting the Constitution Party here. Until such time the only party we're going to discuss building on this site is the Republican Party.

Some Guy said...

Though I gladly voted for Obama, this post is dead-on correct. The brand needs to be defined and clarified. Period. That might be in the form of an ideal or a person, but right now it doesn't work. Also, I agree 100% that Palin kept the race from being a bigger defeat. One thing people forget is that she also brought in tons of money to the campaign. Had she been named earlier, maybe the Michigan office could have stayed open. I don't want to pretend to know what her future with the party is, but she was an asset overall. No other VP candidate would have closed the deal.

streiff said...

I think you're right. First off, we don't need any more senators as our nominee. The go-along-get-along mentality that enables one to function in the Senate is simply not conducive to carrying out a national campaign.

Second, we need to look at our younger talent. I've met Bobby Jindal a couple of times and he's a huge talent. I hope the McCain campaign doesn't get away with blaming Palin for the loss. If she hadn't been on the ticket McCain would have been out speed, out of altitude, and out of ideas around the time of the RNC convention.

Greg Kline said...


I agree wholeheartedly. I am a big Jindal fan and eagerly look forward to his entry on the national stage though timing seems to be working against him.

One lesson we need to learn, is that phony baloney "bipartisanship" or as you say "go along get along" is only a path to irrelevence.

The Dems made a decision in 2000 to relentlessly attack Republicans ina a partisan and vicious matter. The Dems did the same in Maryland after 2002.

People say they don't like it but it works. Our opponents need to be defeated and conservatives need to be as determined and as relentless as they are.

As far as third parties, it is a dead end folks. This country has never and will never have viable third parties. Oh, third party's aided in realignment, the reshuffled the deck but they never won on any national scale.

Conservatives need to fight for the heart and soul of the Republican party and not sit on the sidelines as too many have the last few years.

Higgy said...

Palin is the best thing to happen to the republican party since Reagan. The so called McCain staffers trying to denigrate her are cowards.

Streiff there effectively is no republican party in Maryland. We had one at one time - 40 years ago. Erhlich is a good man, but too nice. We need someone with chutzpah, lots of it. Someone like Palin who's not afraid to go toe to toe with the big dogs and tell it like it is.

streiff said...

Agreed. We've really slid into a Rodney-King party of getting our ass kicked and then wanting to get along.

The bigger point here is that taking off on a third party tangent is not going to fix the problem. We need to reclaim the Republican party and start winning elections.

Kwame Mujabo said...

Sarah Palin is going to be the first female president of the United States.

bud said...

One thing Republican may want to be wary of going forward: a party purity purge. Sure, Gilchrest had his faults and probably deserved to lose his seat. During the primary contest, the GOP allowed themselves to be split in 3's. In the end, it became too difficult to reassemble the broken pieces.