What should the Republican Party do now?
That’s the post-election question. Yet, not being a Republican, I figure I can only answer this question: What should the Republican Party not do?
Before the election, I would have answered, “Talk about ‘legitimate rape.’” Even now I suggest a short course for GOP candidates about rape, with perhaps a refresher on basic biology.
I’m serious. And I’m pro-life.
Now, after the election, an object lesson in what not to do rears its ugly head in the last place one would expect a problem: Arkansas.
Last Tuesday, Arkansas Republicans gained solid control of the State Senate and probably a one-vote majority in the House of Representatives as well (one district contest still being recounted has the Republican 44 votes ahead). Until now, the Natural State was the only state in the union that hadn’t seen Republicans in control of either legislative chamber since Reconstruction.
One would imagine Arkansas GOPers were partying like it was 1994!
But not so much. Instead, one Republican state representative, Nate Bell of Mena, found time to declare a new political enemy and launch a drone attack.
“I’m very tired of Presidential politics,” Bell wrote on his Facebook page, “but there is one thing that needs to be said and Y’all know me. I’m not gonna be quiet.”
You can almost see the referee reaching for his penalty flag, eh?
Rep. Bell then assessed the blame for Mitt Romney’s loss: “The negative effects of Gary Johnson’s effort to suppress GOP turnout and his big lie that there was no difference between Romney and Obama directly and indirectly contributed to president Obama’s re-election.”
If you don’t even know who Gary Johnson is, you should. He was a very successful two-term governor of New Mexico, a state in which other Republicans haven’t had much luck. Johnson ran for president — as a Republican, first — but was ignored and blocked from participation in all but one or two GOP presidential debates. (The explanation was that Gov. Johnson failed to garner high enough poll support to participate in more debates, but of course, he couldn’t have garnered enough support since his name wasn’t actually part of those polls.)
After being so ingloriously dismissed, Johnson ran for and won the Libertarian Party’s nomination. While Johnson garnered more than a million votes nationally and 2 percent of the presidential ballots cast in Arkansas, his vote total was simply not greater than the margin of difference between Romney and Obama in Arkansas — or in any state, for that matter.
Still, it’s the doctrinaire demonization, not the lack of factual foundation, which is most perplexing. Rather than recognizing 2 percent of the vote that might be won back by way of persuasion, Bell, an elected official, busies himself with the endless public listing of enemies.
Robespierre Republicanism ought not be the next wave.
“Gary Johnson and his followers efforts to aid and abet the President’s re-election qualify them as enemies of freedom, liberty and the Constitution IMHO,” alleges Rep. Bell. “I swore an oath to defend that Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic and I will do so.”
Politics is about relationships (news flash: so is business and just about everything else). Win friends and influence people, Dale Carnegie would advise.
Like many Libertarians, I find the Democrats abysmal on virtually every issue, and Republicans . . . at least, better — slightly. And also because when the holder of an office performs as badly as Mr. Obama has performed, one should support his ouster, I would have preferred Mitt Romney.
What should Republicans do now? Stop bad-mouthing voters and win their trust. Find candidates who can run on issues that motivate freedom-loving Americans to come out and vote Republican.
Candidates who can also avoid being supremely obnoxious jerks.
Doesn’t sound so tough, really. And with the Democrats as the main competition, you could be a contender. [references]
November 11, 2012
This column first appeared on Townhall.com.