Last night was a bloodbath, friends. President-elect Hillary Clinton and Jack Reed won 32 states, the Democrats took the Senate back, and the Republican majority in the House is down to 10--that is. With John Boehner having been defeated in the Republican House Primary, there is no real consensus on who the Speaker will be.
The Republican Party's moment of ascendance in November 2014 was just that--momentary. It is hard to believe that a modern American political party could fall from grace with such rapidity, but that's what has happened---and here is how it did:
1. We did not capitalize on the opportunity the voters gave us in 2014. The overwhelming victory handed us in November of 2014 did not come from Republican Party regulars or movement Conservatives. It came to us from disaffected working class Democrats, the apolitical and the non-aligned, people who do not value our ideological positions, but who did say to us, "fix things". And we didn't. We simply took our turn in the batters-box of partisan gridlock and spent more time making the President look bad than we did making the Republican Party look good.
2. We failed at the Presidential level because we failed to recognize that this election was JUST LIKE the 1980 election, and that our victory would come courtesy of working class Democrats, people whose real wages and income have at best stagnated, and who increasingly have been turned off by the Democratic Party's brand of identity politics. Our candidate did not put forward coherent policy positions to bring market forces to bear in healthcare and education, we did not attack the cozy relationship between banks and government, we did not put "the little guy" squarely in our sights and figure out how to apply conservative principles to advancing his plight and that of his family. We did not advance a positive message of how we were better suited to leading the nation forward; rather, we continued to focus on making life better for business and harder on those we feel "take" from the government.
3. We bungled the Senate hearings for the new Attorney General and the new Supreme Court Justice. Sonia Sotomayor's surprise resignation turned into a circus, and we have been without the ninth Justice for 16 months. Rather than working with the White House to create a list nominees acceptable to the Democrats, we played hardball and refused to give the President's two nominees hearings.
4. We did not do anything to make the healthcare system in the country better. For good or bad, Obamacare is the law of the land. Given the President's veto power, there was never a hope of repealing it, we spent over a year trying to do so without trying to do things that WERE possible. And now here we are, two years down the road and the chances of making changes to the system that our voters would have liked, has disappeared.
5. We let the President trap us into an immigration fight, and during that fight we fell all over ourselves in the race to be as insulting and insensitive to Hispanic voters as we could. So instead of cutting a deal with the President that got us the Fence and got him a path to legality, we played chicken with him, he issued his executive orders, and even though the Supreme Court walked some of it back, we succeeded in alienating a growing portion of the electorate. Exit polls indicate that we did worse with Hispanics than we did in 2012. We lost Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico. We won Texas by 53-47.
6. We did nothing to grow the economy. We could have traded a modest rise in the minimum wage for lower corporate taxes and brought jobs back to the United States, but we decided to die on that Hill and continue to resist an issue that breaks against us every time it is polled. So no raise in the minimum wage, and no fall corporate tax rates.
7. We fell in love with the conditions of our 2014 victory and did not examine presumptions. The conventional wisdom was that our new technology "got out our vote", while what really happened was that the other side simply didn't. I remember talking to a dude a few days after we took the Senate and won a squeaker in the Florida Governor's race. He's a Florida absentee voter, and he had been on the Romney for President Team. Yet even then, he got three emails from Charlie Crist during the election, and not one from Rick Scott. We weren't very good then, and we aren't very good now.
8. We did nothing to continue with the inroads we made in 2014 with candidate diversity--women, blacks, Hispanics, the young--seem to have been forgotten about in our candidate search this year.
There was so much hope, back in early November of 2014. The Democratic Party was demoralized and its shining hope was an unlikable woman in her late 60's. And here we are, a Party in tatters. It was all avoidable...it was all so avoidable.....