Where Do Republicans Go From Here?

If the Republicans couldn't beat 7.9 percent unemployment, rising taxes and debt, a lackluster housing market and a recent terrorist attack overseas, columnist Lisa Bigelow believes it's time for them to rethink their message to the electorate


You could see defeat in their faces on Fox News as the returns began rolling in.

Pennsylvania? “Fool’s gold.” Michigan? “That was a long shot, anyway.” Virginia? “It all depends on Fairfax County.” Florida? “It’s the voters in the I-4 corridor.”

And, of course, Ohio.

Indeed, only the brilliant, but reviled Republican strategist Karl Rove looked optimistic after 9 p.m.

At 10:30, my husband and I turned off the television, a persistent, sinking feeling in our collective gut. I woke at 1 a.m. and couldn’t resist grabbing my phone and loading Drudge.

Headline: “The Divided States of America.”

Sigh. So close. So close.

Naturally, sleep proved elusive as I pondered the meaning of the results. Although exit poll voters gave the edge on the economy to Romney, Obama still won. Women and minorities supported the president roundly, while white men, upper income voters, the religious right and other traditional conservative stalwarts supported Romney.

Of course, defeating an incumbent president is nearly impossible. But the fact that Republicans didn’t win in a landslide last Tuesday indicates the party of Lincoln has an elephant-sized case of head-in-the-sanditis.

Republican strategists will no doubt spend a lot more time analyzing this past election than I will. While I’m sure we’ll all hear tons about how GOP candidates need to do a better job getting their message out to Hispanics and middle-income moms, the problem isn’t the breadth of communication; it’s the communication itself.

I think Washington has a habit of underestimating the man (or woman) in the street. Voters get what the Republicans are saying. They just don’t like it.

That doesn’t mean they embrace the liberal agenda, either, as evidenced by the halfhearted endorsement of the Obama mandate. It just means that they found the reality of another Obama administration more tolerable than the idea of a Romney administration.

The long-held assumption that America is a center-right country is false. We’re center-center. We want compromise. And nobody, from the single mom waitress in Cuyahoga County to the hedge fund manager in New Canaan, wants to see the government waste taxpayer money.

Let’s not forget, the fact of the matter is George W. Bush spent money like a drunken sailor and left Obama with a big fat mess. It’s not as if the economy was plugging along nicely and Obama wrecked it. The ugly truth is the country has still not recovered from the Bush years. Voters recognized it. Republican leadership should, too.

But the common thread between all of the reasons voters chose Obama is the Republicans’ insistence on not accepting the reality of the shifting priorities of the American electorate.

When Romney shifted to the right on immigration that was a big mistake. Why? Although rounding up illegal immigrants and shipping them back home sounds great on paper, it is not a practical solution to our border problem. Developing a sensible amnesty program is and Hispanic voters noticed.

Maintaining a pro-life platform was an even bigger mistake and the right wing needs to accept America is never going to outlaw abortion. Women noticed and they're tired of it. Yes, I know no one even talked about overturning Roe v. Wade. If you don’t want an abortion, don’t get an abortion—but let others make their own choices. Voters believe that is the American way.

Romney also would have been better off taking credit for the truth of being the ideological father of Obamacare (and also for being pro-choice while leading Massachusetts). Standing up to the noisy far right, with whom northeastern and west coast voters do not identify, would have demonstrated courageous leadership. And though it would have made the GOP faithful red-faced in anger, it would have garnered the respect of voters. 

Finally, how refreshing would it have been to hear Romney say, “I think we should keep the Bush tax cuts. But healing a divided nation and making real progress will only be achieved through bipartisan legislation. That’s why I cannot release specific details now.

“I need the American people to give me a chance to sit down with our Democratic friends and work out a compromise that every party can be proud of. It may include entitlement cuts and higher revenues. But we won’t know how great our nation could be unless you elect me to prove it.”

Alas, it was not to be.

Kendall L Owott November 13, 2012 at 02:30 PM
BUDGET BALANCING FOR SOCIAL LIBERALS If you make gender-selection abortion illegal, then government assistance will be denied and taxes will be reduced. This simple answer should not be interpreted to address anything else implied in your complicated question/assertion nor to agree to be included in whatever groups you feel those who answer your question/assertion belong.
J.James November 13, 2012 at 04:09 PM
That is absolutely not true. During the period of time when an abortion can be safely performed, there is not nearly enough functionality in that tiny cluster of cells and tissue to defend itself. Life does not begin at conception. In the human sense of the word, life does not begin until the moment of birth. In the scientific sense of the word, all cells are alive. That does not however, by any stretch, mean that a small cluster of dividing cells constitutes a life. Sticking to that argument, every teenage boy in the country is guilty of mass murder at least once a day. You don't have to agree with it, you don't have to advocate it, and you are very free to speak out against it, that is your right. However, it is absolutely not anyone's right to tell any woman of any age that she is not responsible for her own body and the choices that impact her life. There are gray areas in the topic of abortion. I'll even concede that there are plenty of people who abuse the method as a cheap escape from a fleeting mistake. That being said, it is, again, their choice to make. When the government begins writing up legislation that dictates what citizens can and cannot do with their own bodies and lives, then we are no longer living in a democracy. Religious beliefs, be they Judeo-Christian, Muslim, or anything else, have absolutely no say in the matter. This is a secular nation. What your church believes about abortion, is entirely irrelevant.
Kendall L Owott November 13, 2012 at 06:02 PM
J. James, there are many statements but to start, there are scientific evidence-backed references which say human life begins at fertilization such as The Harper Collins Illustrated Medical Dictionary; Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, 5th edition; Langman's Medical Embryology, 7th edition and Patten's Foundations of Embryology, 6th edition. If you can accept an objective, science-based viewpoint on this question, perhaps we can go further if you like.
J.James November 13, 2012 at 07:02 PM
The embryonic period begins at week five. This is when internal organs, as well as the heart and brain BEGIN development. At this point the embryo is roughly the size of a pen tip. Scientifically speaking, is it alive? Yes. Philisophically, is it a life? No. It's nothing more than a cluster of dividing cells. It is incapable of thought, it's heart is not yet beating, its brain stem not even close to being complete. It is only marginally more alive than a sperm is. Just because something is, scientifically speaking, alive does not mean that it is a life. A tree is alive. Plankton is alive. The myriad microorganisms floating through the air are alive. But they are nothing more than that. Basic, rudimentary, biological functions. There is a vast difference between conception, and a middle-to-late term pregnancy. The baby that is born is a human life. The group of cells, or blastocyst if you insist on speaking so technically, is not a baby.
Kendall L Owott November 13, 2012 at 07:22 PM
J. James, OK, I think we agree that at fertilization a life is present but you question what kind of life. DNA tells us that it is a human life and the DNA of the early-stage human is different than that of the mother and we don’t need philosophy to establish that this is a human life which differs from – to use your examples – trees and plankton. So where we are now is that we are speaking of a human life with only a small % of its eventual adult capabilities. If left alone to develop, barring complications, a baby will be born later in the development cycle. The human development cycle doesn’t end at the birth of a baby, though, but continues through adulthood. OK so far?
J.James November 13, 2012 at 07:32 PM
No. You misunderstand me. It is not a human life. It is living cells. A human life consists of so much more, that's where the philosophy lies. When the brain is functional, the heart is beating, and it is approaching a point where it can live independently from its mother, then and only then it is a life. Up until that point it is nothing more than developing cells. Granted, cells which hold within them the potential to become a life. But potential does not a life make.
Kendall L Owott November 13, 2012 at 08:03 PM
J. James, I guess we take our leave, then. I am in no position to contradict the scientific references above Good luck in your knowledge search.
Esprit de Corps November 13, 2012 at 08:33 PM
Mr. Vegan, the difference between a fetus and a lobster is that in several years, the fetus will go out to dinner, whereas the lobster will be dinner.
J.James November 13, 2012 at 08:44 PM
I thank you sincerely for making it interesting. This is one of those very touchy topics that lies in the foggy middle-ground between fact and opinion. It is the facts and studies that I have personally come across upon which I have based my opinion on the subject. The philosophical questions raised are large ones, and I fear will never be sufficiently answered. Suffice it to say, science always prevails if people are willing enough to go out and find answers.
Michael Brown November 14, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Lisa. Sorry to hear that Fox News misled you into thinking that Romney had a chance. That chance is in Hell and there I hope it will remain. Fox News commentators no longer couch their hate and bigotry. O'Riely's "they want stuff" comment illustrates just the tip of the confusion that muddles the modern conservative mind. Quoting conservative columnist David Frum: "[The GOP has] been fleeced, exploited, and lied to by a conservative entertainment complex." But please keep it up. Keep saying "maker vs. taker" and "legitimate rape." Keep trying to regulate a woman's uterus. Keep denying equal rights to gay people. Keep marginalizing minority voters with phrases like "self-deportation" and "food stamp President." Keep feeding more bigotry to that every shrinking portion of the population that you are pandering to. See you in four years.
Hollywood2 November 14, 2012 at 12:54 AM
Michael, Can I get an Amen! Enough said!
Ade November 14, 2012 at 01:49 PM
"Ade may get cranky, call me names and question my ability to think"....... 10:36pm Monday, Nov 12. Kendall Owott --- I can cut and paste, too.
Stephanie November 14, 2012 at 08:06 PM
J Bauer: The idea that anyone would use abortion as another form of contraception is just so far from reality. Abortion is a horrific experience, something that a woman will remember for the rest of her life. It's something that no woman would ever want to go through, but sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. I'm not sure how reliable your source is, given that you've only said it was done in 2004. But since 54% of rapes/sexual assaults go unreported (RAINN.org), I can use my common sense to say that your 1% statistic does not accurately reflect reality. The same applies to the incest statistic. Many girls may not yet have the emotional strength to tell people what happened to her.
Kendall L Owott November 15, 2012 at 03:34 AM
THE RIGHT STUFF Stephanie, J. Bauer has research to back up the viewpoint stated. I can’t guarantee that the link below is the same research source, but the numbers match up. http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/3711005.pdf The Guttmacher Institute is a pro-choice research organization and the paper is empirically-based which means they interviewed 1209 women at 11 US abortion facilities and facility staff asked them if they wanted to complete an anonymous survey as to why they were getting an abortion. Please read the paper and if some of the methodology fogs you, ask at American University for help. There’s no disgrace in asking for academic help at a university if the methodology is unfamiliar to you. After you read and understand the paper, you will be in a better position to criticize J. Bauer’s comments or to agree with them or to add new ones. You are entitled to your opinion, as is J. Bauer, but you will need to run your own controlled survey or find and quote other rigorous surveys if you want to introduce new facts. For a blog post, it is OK to use your common sense, but in research, you need facts. Good luck. Challenge yourself and everyone else the right way and your education will be much richer and useful.
J Bauer November 15, 2012 at 12:37 PM
Stephanie, those were not "my" statistics. The study is well disseminated and it was done by the Guttmacher Institute. For your information the Guttmacher Institute is funded and owned by an arm of Planned Parenthood. So, the reasons for an abortion that I gave you were actually compiled by the most pro-abortion organization that I can think of. You mention "But since 54% of rapes/sexual assaults go unreported " okay, so double the 1% and call it 2% +.5% = 2.5% for incest and rape. Thats a tiny proportion. As for your other comment, of course it is not a fun process, but as you said "sometimes you just have to do what you have to do"... by the way, what does that mean? In the context of how you used it, it seems to be that you are pointing out abortions are unpleasant, but well worth the effort given the outcome. You are practically illustrating the point that many people look at abortion as a convenience option all too often and certainly as a post-event contraception method - even if it is an unpleasant one. And, in reality, if this were not the case then the numbers I gave you would look far different than they do.
Lisa Bigelow November 15, 2012 at 01:53 PM
Esprit & Hollywood -- Seriously?!? Lisa B.
Esprit de Corps November 15, 2012 at 02:24 PM
A thousand pardons, Ms. Bigelow but what is wrong with introducing good hygiene when someone else introduces a questionable topic? Should such childish comments go unregarded? The advice is from a respected medical site. In penance, I volunteer to be zapped by Editor Jaimie Cura with the hope that Hollywood2 is also zapped. As always, Ms. Bigelow, you show remarkable restraint and grace. May the rest of the day be good for you.
Lisa Bigelow November 15, 2012 at 02:31 PM
LOL I do appreciate good hygiene, as I imagine our nation's professional entertainers do as well! and you have a good day, too! thanks for the good humor. Lisa B.
Chandra Johnson Greene November 15, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Comments have been deleted from this thread because they violate Patch's Terms of Use. Please refrain from posting inappropriate content.
Esprit de Corps November 15, 2012 at 02:42 PM
At your service, Madame Bigelow.
Hollywood2 November 15, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Serious! Lisa, you should try it!
Esprit de Corps November 15, 2012 at 02:48 PM
You are no gentleman, sir.
Hermann Zwergel November 15, 2012 at 03:20 PM
This GOP governor "get's it". CNSNews.com) - Louisiana's Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal gave his first post-election interview to the liberal-leaning Politico, and he had some unflattering things to say about his fellow Republicans. “Stop being the stupid party,” Politico quoted Jindal as saying during the 45-minute telephone interview. “It is no secret we had a number of Republicans damage our brand this year with offensive, bizarre comments — enough of that,” Jindal was quoted as saying. “It’s not going to be the last time anyone says something stupid within our party, but it can’t be tolerated within our party. "We’ve also had enough of this dumbed-down conservatism. We need to stop being simplistic, we need to trust the intelligence of the American people and we need to stop insulting the intelligence of the voters.” He said the GOP must not be the party of "big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, big anything." "We cannot be, we must not be, the party that simply protects the rich so they get to keep their toys.”
Esprit de Corps November 15, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Ms. Greene, nothing has happened.
Paul M Potenza November 15, 2012 at 04:40 PM
The fact of the matter is that Obama inherited a financial mess resulting from 30 years of political pandering and financial mishandling from both sides of the isle and from the House, Senate and the Executive Branch. The bill has to be paid, and it is up to us to figure out how best to do it. When a President spends his firt term trying to ahieve a second, there is something wrong with the man himself, if not the laws that govern the reelection of his office. When he spends the first 18 months of his presidencey focusing on the biggest tax increase in our history (Obamacare)-which will in fact achieve the opposite effect on the economyy - and not the problem at hand, there is something wrong with the man himself.
Paul M Potenza November 15, 2012 at 04:45 PM
I am pesonally torn by the abortion issue, and that is what I suppose makes it such a hot button issue for so many Americans. As a doctor, I cannot imagine witnessing the fetus fighting to save its own life. On the other hand, if there are people out there who, in essence, except in the instance of rape or medical necessity, choose to terminate their own young, then I suppose there is some Darwinian logic at work after all. An only exception to this is when the government comes in and agrees to pay for children born into situations where the parent or parents cannot afford to care for them, thus providing a perverse incentive to continue the practice. How much of taht actually goes on? I don't know, but it rubs me the wrong way as I am sure it does many parents who sacrifice out of pure love for their children and know they have to limit thier progeny to a certain number for financial reasons. If I may take a moment to sound exeedingly philosophical and archaic, I must say that we still need a voice in our political system to remind the people what has made this country the greatest on earth, and that is the words of our founding fathers. They believed in natural law and the liberty of the individual. To understand these notions is to have a firm grasp of morality and an understanding that self reliance brings the greatest rewards and leads to a sense of human dignity.
Paul M Potenza November 15, 2012 at 04:51 PM
The American people no longer understand this because they are ignorant of history and unaware of the unbelieveable blessings that were given to us by the words of our Founding Fathers. Pitting class against class, expecting others to care for us, assuming that governmental control and support is the only way to get by are anathema to what this country was intended to stand for. If I am old, and out of touch with the realitis of today, then so be it. these realities have come to us by our failure to live up to the gifts we have been given. I am too old, and I have worked too hard and long to create what I have, and yes, I did build it myself. Ihope that as a nation we can somehow work our way back to the American ideals we were taught, but I am doubtful.
Kendall L Owott November 16, 2012 at 05:54 AM
A BETTER WAY Dr. Potenza/Stephanie Take a look at the Guttmacher Institute Study p 117 (link below) and note that “more than one-third of interview respondents said they had considered adoption and concluded that it was a morally unconscionable option because giving one's child away is wrong.” http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/3711005.pdf Whether you are for or against abortion, the study will convince you that some of these women have all kinds of difficult choices in their lives and are in a different class entirely from those who would abort for gender selection (family balancing) or so they would look and feel good for a Paris vacation – quoted above. The plight of some of these poor women is truly sad. The choice of death for a child rather than adoption is stark and chilling, especially when the women feel it is a more moral choice. The choice of abortion for trivial reasons like gender selection, personal pleasure or trendy appearance is even sadder, evil and narcissistic. We need to do more to help these women in a better way than to dump their flesh and blood sons and daughters like biological trash. 100% pro-choice makes no sense.
Paul M Potenza November 19, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Good point, Kendall. That is one angle I never knew of, abortion for moral reasons. We do live in a crazy world at that. I wonder how much we need to help these people, however, who as you say dump their flesh and blood like biological trash. After all, if women abort for moral or amoral reasons, they bring the plight onto themselves and perhaps they will have to answer for it some day.
J.James November 24, 2012 at 11:43 PM
A documentary came out not long ago called 12th and Delaware. In Fort Pierce, Florida there is an abortion clinic on the corner of 12th and Delaware. Directly across the street is a "Pro-Life" clinic. The film-makers set out to make a decidedly pro-life documentary. What they actually found may surprise you if you're willing to watch it. If nothing else, it may add another layer to your argument. It's a fascinating, enlightening documentary, for pro-choice and pro-life alike. I encourage anyone interested in the topic to give it a view.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »