It was not so long ago that the mighty Republican Party thoroughly enjoyed looking into the mirror. What was looking back at them? 1994's Contract with America successfully bogged down President Bill Clinton's progressive agenda, and the remainder of the decade saw the GOP controlling both the Senate and House of Representatives. A new millennium started with their candidate, a relative novice in Governor Bush, defeating Vice President Al Gore who represented a popular outgoing Clinton administration. In the mid-1990s, Senator Phil Gramm of Texas promised to hunt "Democrats with dogs."
However, the past two years have not been so kind to Lincoln's Party. The dogs have turned on their masters. An avalanche of bad press and poor decisions have given the Democrats control of both houses of Congress and the executive branch.
Names like Tom Delay, Mark Foley, Larry Craig, and Terri Schiavo have dragged the party down (not really Schiavo's fault). And those names are dwarfed by an unpopular war and a faltering economy. It all amounts to clear and abject failure. However, politics, like most things, is cyclical. President Obama will not always be looked upon with glassy-eyed hysteria. In order to turn things around more quickly, the Republican Party will have to follow these steps:
1) Stop blaming the media. For a group of people that favours rough-and-tumble characters like cowboys and soldiers (or any role Ronald Reagan played as an actor), Republicans sure are quick and eager to blame their problems on the media. "NBC is picking on me! The New York Times is making fun of me!" Voters do not care about such concerns because such concerns do not apply to them. And look at the logic of how this complaint is registered; the party is going to use the media to broadcast their view that the media is biased?
2) Take away Sarah Palin's passport and tell her that without it, she cannot visit the lower 48. She'll believe you. Allow the governor, her husband, Dude, and their children, Trig, Willow, Divot, and Plank to leave the Washington political landscape and return to Alaska. Instead, in order to bring in independent female voters, turn to women like Senators Kay Bailey Hutchinson, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, and Jodi Rell or push for more Republican women to run (there are more Republican women, right?). With Palin by his side, McCain lost the female vote by thirteen points to Senator Obama. The female voting block could be energized similar to the way the African-American block was with Obama.
3) Crank up those culture wars! Although the nation appears to be getting more liberal with its voting practices, the United States is pretty damn conservative with its cultural beliefs. Once the conservative electorate realizes there is a direct correlation between liberal officials and liberal laws, the Republicans could rebound. In a recent CBS poll, 61 per cent of those asked wanted marriage to be limited to one man and one woman. In a Quinnipiac poll, 63 per cent of people favored capital punishment. Finally, also in a CBS poll, 64 per cent of those asked said they favored either a total ban on abortion or more stringent laws against its practice. One could hypothesise that is one mass of people maintaining consistency throughout all three questions with few jumping ship or jumping onboard. If Republicans can get six out of every ten Americans voting their way, Democrats will be reeling, as will gays with their pesky quest for equal rights.
4) Hitch your wagon to a rising star. Quick question: who is the leader of the Republican Party? That should be a simple enough question to answer, but Republicans have none. George W. Bush will rarely be heard from again. Dick Cheney's schedule is full of hunting trips and cardiothoracic visits. John McCain will go back to being an effective senator, but he is still quite old. Senator Mitch McConnell, Senate minority leader, barely won re-election in the GOP stronghold of Kentucky. He, like his Democratic counterpart in the Senate, Harry Reid, is ineffective. And House minority leader John Boehner has spearheaded an effort straight to the bottom. In order to crawl out from underneath these stale figures, Republicans need to look outside Washington. The future is bright for Louisiana's governor, Bobby Jindal, or Minnesota's governor, Tim Pawlenty. A Washington-based option could be Senator Mike Crapo of Idaho. Crapo (pronounced Cray-po) ran unopposed during his 2004 election bid. One of these men or one of the previously mentioned could be the new face of the Republican Party.
The Republican Party will not go the way of the dodo bird or the Whigs. It will return. Six brief years ago Democrats were lamenting their congressional losses. Four short years ago they could not defeat Bush during his reelection run. Things will turn around for the Republicans, and if wise decisions are made the process with be expedited. Of course wise decisions are at a premium.