Since the election of Barack Obama, there have been questions among Republicans and right-wing pundits about the future of the Republican Party and how the GOP might be able to retake both Congress and the White House. I have an answer for them, but it will take some telling.
I visited my local bookstore a few days ago and found the entire front table was taken up with every imaginable type of Barack Obama memorabilia.
Have you noticed that when a Democrat gets elected to the White House, we end up with an overwhelming array of printed material showing up any place where books are sold, including grocery stores? You will never see this happen when a Republican is elected. Not even Ronald Reagan got this reaction. It wasn’t until the Gipper left office that such commemorative works started selling. Given that Reagan got a bigger percentage of the popular vote than Obama did, it’s a little difficult to conclude that the reason for the difference in reaction is that Obama is more popular.
Why the difference then? Those Americans traditionally supporting Republican candidates tend not to let their entire beings get wrapped up in letting one politician or another be the answer to all their problems — or the cause of them.
The left, however, does. Demonstrably.
For eight years, the left went crazy. If their latte wasn’t exactly how they like it, it was Bush’s fault. If they lost their jobs, it isn’t because they weren’t providing the company real value. It was Bush’s fault. If the price of gasoline went up, it wasn’t because we won’t let anyone drill for oil here in the U.S. It was because Bush was making a killing in the oil markets. Forget the mere fact that these charges being directed at Bush were easily disproved. Mere facts made no difference to the accusers. Mind you, I’ve made no secret of my discontent with Bush over the years, but it seemed to me that the ills being piled onto Bush were laughable.
Now we see that undiluted frothing hate being redirected into frothing adulation and support for President Obama. As an example: Despite pledges of being an open and ethical administration, and despite Obama’s promise of a lobbyist-free administration, we now see a long string of ethically questionable Democrats and lobbyists connected to Obama’s past and his present nominated for lucrative jobs within his administration. Yet there are no complaints from the left, who were so caustic over George W. Bush’s ethical failings. Obama can do no wrong in their eyes. The transition is remarkable but predictable.
The desire to defend one of their own had led to a herd mentality on the left. After all, these are not the actions that one would witness from independent and unconventional thinkers who are dealing in fact. Rather, it is what one would see in the emotional arguments over favorite sports teams or rock stars. All the arguments sound exactly the same.
So where does this observation lead us? I predict that we will see serious disappointment and even resentment from the left in four year. For proof, one need look no further than Jimmy Carter, whose transition from an object of adulation to one of disappointment and resentment resulted directly in the landslide election of Ronald Reagan.
Ronald Reagan, for all that he was and did for this country, could not possibly have gotten himself elected to the presidency were it not for the towering failure of Jimmy Carter’s presidency. The facts certainly were on Reagan’s side. That point was not lost on the Republican base, which, as the candidacy of John McCain showed us, is always checking a candidate’s adherence to Republican principles. But certainly principles do not matter to those with a herd mentality. What drove the center and even most of the left away from Jimmy Carter three years into his presidency was disappointment and resentment. In short, emotion. Those two factors — leftist disappointment and a satisfied right-wing base — are what resulted in Reagan’s landslide victory.
So, with that history in mind, here’s what our future looks like.
The left may have already started turning against Obama. Support for his stimulus bill was recently down to 37% (it has since rebounded a bit). Obama’s approval ratings are already slipping from their post-election high. So we see that the chain of events which led to the removal of Jimmy Carter after one term may already be in motion with Barack Obama. An article in the pragmatic Financial Times asks the question: “Has Barack Obama’s presidency already failed?”
With these factors already in play, the GOP has to mind its own house. Here’s how they can do that. Over the next four years, Republicans are going to have a laundry list of government excess and associated failures to run on. All they need to do is start pointing at those failures as they occur. Not because they wish those failures to happen, but because they are inevitable when liberal policies are applied.
I suggest that what is needed now is someone — preferably, several someones — to stand on the Republican principles that Reagan stood for: support for free markets and limited government.
Get a real Republican out there. Someone the party can support because of his adherence to facts and principles. Someone who won’t compromise those principles for the sake of “bipartisanship.”
If the GOP follows these broad ideas, the swing toward the Republican Party will be a dramatic one.