November 5, 2008


Republicans Confront Formidable Task Ahead: Leaders Agree on Need for Party Restructuring (Michael Abramowitz, 11/05/08, Washington Post)

At least one thing seemed clear after the electoral drubbing the GOP suffered yesterday: Republicans will soon find themselves in the throes of an intense debate over the direction of a party that has no obvious leader and no clear path back to power.

"It's amazing how a butt-kicking can help clear people's heads," said Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who received serious consideration to be McCain's running mate. "The Republican idea factory has gotten stale. We are still running on the policy ideas of 20 or 30 years ago. . . . The defeat and the setback saddens me, but it's now an opportunity to dust ourselves off."

Exit polls suggested a considerable rebuilding task for the GOP: Not since 1980 has a lower percentage of the electorate described itself as Republican. Ominously for the party, McCain was crushed among young voters and Hispanics, the fast-growing minority population once seen as potential gold for Republicans.

Utah's Republican governor, Jon M. Huntsman Jr., predicted a "broad discussion of the future of the party" with virtually every big issue on the table. "Was there anything that went right for us over the last several years?" he asked, saying that the party's international agenda has been "flawed" and U.S. prestige abroad "squandered, in terms of where you see our level of respect overseas."

"Domestically we have been totally tone-deaf in terms of recognizing the environment and where most Americans are in terms of having a healthy environment," said Huntsman, a popular governor who easily won reelection. "We have been missing in action in terms of any semblance of fiscal responsibility, [and] we have put forward nothing meaningful in terms of health-care reform that has any traction."

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), another individual often mentioned as a possible party leader, said the GOP must do a better job talking about the issues that most concern middle-income Americans, including health care and economic security. "There is a challenge for us to reconnect to people, to show that our policies are what the middle class really cares about," he said.

Other prominent party figures said the GOP should not overreact to the election results, asserting that Democrat Barack Obama moved toward the center during the general election campaign and co-opted traditionally Republican themes such as lower taxes.

These aren't things that will be available to run on next time but things they can do along with President Obama now:

(1) Hispanics: Immigration reform that legalizes those already here after a few obligatory hoop jumps and widens quotas enough that they're illusory.

(2) Environmental concerns: Carbon tax that makes people pay for the externalities of their own behavior.

(3) Health: Universal Health Care, but via HSAs and other similar vehicles.

(4) Taxes: Vote for the tax cuts.

Take advantage of Barack Obama running to the center and make him govern towards you. There'll be plenty more to run on later.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at November 5, 2008 12:45 PM
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